Ella Ingram – the 22-year-old student whose trail-blazing legal battle proved global insurer QBE had discriminated against her – was today named as a finalist in the 2016 Human Rights Awards.
The Melbourne woman is one of six finalists for the Young People's Human Rights Medal 2016. The medal is awarded annually by the Australian Human Rights Commission to a person under 25 years of age who has made “an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Australia”.
Beyond Blue congratulates Ella on her well-deserved nomination.
Ella was 17 years old when she was forced to cancel her New York travel plans on doctors’ advice following a diagnosis of depression in 2012. In a David-and-Goliath battle, Ella took the multinational corporation to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. She won a landmark victory in December 2015 when it was found QBE had discriminated against her on the grounds of her mental health.
The tribunal found QBE had unfairly discriminated by selling a travel insurance policy with a blanket mental health exclusion and then using that clause to deny Ella a refund. The insurer was found guilty under the Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Act, 1992.
QBE was ordered to pay Ella’s claim of A$4,292.48 plus A$15,000 compensation.
QBE is just one of the many insurers with blanket mental health exclusion clauses in travel, life, total and permanent disability, and income-protection policies. Ella’s determination and victory has become legend across the multi-billion dollar industry.
Ella is committed to working with the Australian depression, anxiety and suicide prevention organisation Beyond Blue, peak body Mental Health Australia and Public Interest Advocacy Centre to continue raising awareness of insurance discrimination.
“It’s really exciting and I feel very honoured to be named as a finalist,” Ella said. “I hope it sends a message to the insurance industry that people with depression shouldn’t be treated differently.
“I hope my nomination helps other people living with a mental illness to stand up for their rights.”
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said Ella’s case had put insurance discrimination in the national spotlight.
“The practice of excluding people with mental health conditions from accessing travel, income protection and life insurance policies reinforces stigma and discourages people from seeking support when they need it most,” Ms Harman said.
Beyond Blue is also shortlisted for the Racism. It Stops With Me Australian Human Rights award 2016 which recognises the contribution of individuals and organisations in reducing and preventing racism in Australia.
Beyond Blue is one of five finalists for its Invisible Discriminator campaign which graphically highlights the impact of subtle racism and discrimination on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Human Rights Awards will be presented on Friday, December 9 in Sydney.