Advocates Call For Community Services Official's Removal After
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 20, 2006
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA--Australia's Community Services Minister, John Cobb, defended himself this week over something he said during a September 12 meeting with disability advocacy representatives.
There is some disagreement, however, between Cobb and some of the eight advocates who met with him in his office that day to discuss Australia's National Disability Advocacy Program.
According to The Australian news service, several of those present said they heard Cobb say that if a child of his had been born with a disability, he would have sent it to an institution.
"He said he had lots of children in his family and if he had a child that would cause stress he would get rid of it -- they were his words," explained Queensland Advocacy chief Kevin Cocks.
Heidi Forrest, president of People with Disability Australia and mother of a child with a disability, reportedly left the meeting in tears.
"I love my son and that was kind of saying that I'm no good for trying to have my son," she said later.
The groups have called for Cobb, who last year received the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's Human Rights Medal, to step down or be removed from his post.
On Thursday, Cobb said he did not say anything about sending a child to an institution, but only meant to show that he respected families that deal with family members with disabilities.
"I did say I have a large family and what I said was I'm not sure how I would handle it in a large family if I had a child that caused incredible disruption and I believe that."
"Cobb would 'get rid of' disabled child" (The Australian)