Mother quits market stall after complaints about son with Down Syndrome

A mother of a three year old boy with Down Syndrome says she's been forced to quit her market food stall, after customers complained about her bringing the boy to the markets.

Jackie Macedo has been cooking at Sydney's Orange Grove Markets for 14 years.

And for the last few, she's been bringing her little boy Noah with her.

But this week Jackie received a phone call from the market operators saying there'd been complaints about him being there.

"The manager has said it's a duty of care issue so I guess they feel I'm neglecting my child by bringing him along here," Jackie told SBS.

She wrote on her blog: "The organisers of Orange Grove Farmers’ Market have always been supportive of Noah’s presence at this event and for that, I will forever be grateful." 

She was told other stall holders too are concerned.

"They feel that Noah's presence here is impacting their ability to trade effectively," she said.

Stall holders SBS spoke to though, said they love having the little boy with down syndrome around.

Stall holder Lyssandra Spill said Noah was a welcome sight at the markets.

"People come and give him a cuddle," she said.

Stall holder Beatrice Rankin said having Noah at the market was better than leaving him all day to work in an office job.

"When people leave their children from 7 in the morning until 7 at night working in an office, thats OK, with strangers raising their children. And you can't have your child at work? That doesn't make sense to me," she said.

This isn't the first time Jackie's been in this position.

She used to work at 6 different markets, but said that when successive operators asked her to leave Noah at home, she cut back to just two.

As a single mum, Jackie said she has few affordable care options on a Saturday.

"I think they think they're looking out of him because of his disability, not trying ot get rid of him because they want him out of sight, but frankly I think they're wrong," Jackie said.

Other customers SBS approached agreed that Noah appears safe in his cot outside the stall, and is better off being close to his mum.

"We've seen him here week after week and he's perfectly contented," said Ron Haddick.

Karen Lateo agreed: "Noah has become part of the market, he has an extended family here."

Despite the huge amount of support Jackie has at the markets, she says rather than fighting back against the complaints she's decided that after 14 years, this will be her last week there.

"I've just got to figure out what next, I really don't know yet," she said.

Source: SBS