Wayne is a New Zealand citizen, with a debilitating illness. He is forced to live on the streets in Australia, because of these two facts. He is currently on the streets in Brisbane.
Wayne moved from New Zealand to Australia in 2002. He came here to work as a security guard, including on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. While working in Australia, he developed an autoimmune disease called Grave’s Disease, sometimes called “toxic diffuse goitre.” The disease is apparently hereditary.
This disease, an overactivity of the thyroid gland, causes hyperthyroidism. The body’s immune system becomes misdirected. It tries to attack diseases which aren’t there. Having nothing else to attack, it attacks the organs, cells and tissues it is supposed to protect.
The most common symptoms of Grave’s Disease are weight loss without dieting, rapid heart rate and nervousness. Other symptoms include trouble sleeping, fatigue, frequent bowel movements, irritability, heat sensitivity, increased sweating, muscular weakness, and hand tremors. Grave’s Disease is the only kind of hyperthyroidism that is associated with swelling of the tissue around the eyes and bulging of the eyes.
Wayne has developed a severe bulging of the eyes. Apart from the physical debilitating nature of the disease, his physical appearance has altered drastically. Many people become unjustly alarmed at the fact that his eyes look so unnatural. For this reason, he is often shunned, persecuted or even physically and/or verbally attacked.
Also because of the debilitating and mutational effect of the disease, he is unable to work. Many people do not want to employ him because of his physical appearance (bulging eyes), which to most people is alarming. This adds further emotional trauma to the physical debilitation.
He has apparently been denied Centrelink benefit, because he is not a permanent resident. He apparently cannot apply for permanent residency, because he is unable to work. He apparently cannot receive New Zealand Invalids benefit, even though he satisfies their test of being unable to work eight hours a week, as the condition is operational.
Unfortunately, the waiting list for the operation is a minimum of almost two years. In that time, he will probably suffer irreparable physical damage as a result of the illness, including permanent blindness. This damage will be compounded and accelerated by the fact that he is living on the streets, without basic survival needs.
One major problem is that any physical exertion, including working, causes profuse sweating. This sweating is exacerbated by the disease itself, sweating being a symptom. Sweat from his forehead goes into his eyes. The eyelids cannot completely close over his eyes, due to the bulging nature of the eyeballs. Also, the membrane over his eyeballs has possibly weakened due to the incomplete protection normally afforded by the ability to completely close the eyes as required. This is probably accelerating the likely blindness unless he receives necessary medical treatment.
Without financial assistance, he cannot access this medical assistance, nor live in an environment that will protect him from the harsh Australian elements. Without the necessary operation, he will deteriorate physically and emotionally to an irrecoverable stage. This deterioration will, apparently, lead to profound blindness and heart problems.
Premature death can result from thyrotoxic storm, caused by untreated hyperthyroidism. It is brought on by acute stress, such as trauma or infection. The symptoms here are severe, including pounding heart, sweating, restlessness, shaking, diarrhea, change in consciousness, agitation and confusion. Congestive heart failure can develop rapidly and lead to death.
At the present, Wayne is in constant severe pain, with nowhere to live, and no prospects of receiving the required medical assistance. There are three treatments for Grave’s Disease: medicine, radioactive iodine, or surgery. Doctors have apparently diagnosed that Wayne requires surgery, the most drastic form of treatment.
By Craig Hill
Parliamentary Submission for Senator Andrew Bartlett