Sunday 1 August 2010

Jailed welfare cheat granted access to IVF treatment

A jailed 45-year-old welfare cheat has won the right to IVF fertility treatment while living as a serving prisoner in Australia.
Kimberley Castles, an inmate at minimum-security Tarrengower Prison, had claimed in the Supreme Court that her human rights were breached because she was refused access to fertility treatment. Debbie Mortimer, SC, had told the Supreme Court that significant psychological harm had been caused to Castles, who was having self-financed IVF treatment before she was jailed last November. Ms Mortimer told Justice Karin Emerton her client wrote to prison authorities within days of being incarcerated asking to continue IVF.

Castles sued the Justice Department, seeking an injunction and a declaration she could continue treatment.Ms Mortimer said conjugal visits were allowed at Tarrengower and that time was running out for Castles - who has age-based infertility - because she turns 46 in December and that is the cut-off date for treatment from Melbourne IVF.

Justice Emerton said: “(The relevant section of the Corrections Act) confers on Ms Castles the right to continue to undergo IVF treatment for her infertility, although not necessarily at the Melbourne IVF Clinic.“IVF treatment is both necessary for the preservation of Ms Castles’ reproductive health and reasonable given the commitment to the treatment that Ms Castles has already demonstrated, her willingness to pay for further treatment, her age and the fact that she will become ineligible for further treatment before she is released from prison.”Justice Emerton said the prisoner’s request for a permit that would enable her to leave the prison to undergo required treatment over a number of months could not be accommodated, so she would have to apply for permits on a “visit by visit basis”. Castles is serving an 18-month minimum term for fraudulently claiming almost $140,000 in single-parent welfare benefits between 1984 and 1998, and then claiming further benefits under a false name between 2000 and 2006.

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