A devout Christian woman – who refused Buddhism-based mental health therapies due to her religion – has lost a Centrelink battle for disability support pension.
A devout Christian woman – who refused Buddhism-based mental health therapies due to her religion – has lost a Centrelink battle for disability support pension.

Devout Christian woman loses Centrelink battle

A DEVOUT Christian woman who refused any Buddhist-based therapies like mindfulness has lost a legal bid for disability support pension amid her claims of mental ill health.

The woman lodged a Centrelink claim back in July 2017, claiming she was suffering from a depressive disorder that meant she wasn't able to work a minimum of 15 hours per week.

But her claim was refused on the grounds her illness wasn't fully treated or stabilised at the qualification period at the time of her claim - a key condition required by Centrelink for payment.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia, in a recently-published Hobart decision, also said there had been a lack of consensus as to her diagnosis - with one doctor opining she had depression, another believing she had an anxiety disorder or even post traumatic stress disorder, and a third diagnosing major depressive disorder.

The issue of whether the woman's condition was fully treated during the qualification period for her claim was at issue before the tribunal, given her religious beliefs prevented her from receiving typical therapies.

The woman's treating psychologist told the tribunal he had an "eclectic" approach, but felt he would alienate the woman if he used treatments like cognitive behaviour therapy.

"(The woman) confirmed that because of her Christian beliefs she was not open to any treatments that she perceived to be contrary to her faith," tribunal member Lynette Rieper said.

"She said, for example, that she would not accept treatment that had its origins in the Buddhist faith such as mindfulness."

The tribunal found the woman didn't receive treatment in the qualification period beyond supportive counselling, but accepted that was at least partially due to her religious beliefs.

However, it ultimately said it had "significant doubts" about whether the woman genuinely had a compelling reason for not undertaking therapy beyond supportive counselling.

The tribunal also had doubts about the woman's level of impairment despite claims she needed a church worker to visit her twice a week for cooking, cleaning and other household tasks.

Ms Rieper noted evidence that she cooked for herself, kept her own house in an orderly fashion, exercised and was "fully independent in activities of daily living".

Upholding the previous decision refusing the woman's claim, Ms Rieper also noted evidence that just before the qualification period, the woman had taken part in a 900km bike ride interstate and had a "wonderful time".

 

amber.wilson@news.com.au

 

 

 

Originally published as Devout Christian woman loses Centrelink battle


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