The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) continues to be dismayed by the number of cases that are being referred to us by people being denied residency visas in Australia due to their failure to satisfy the health waiver condition. Most of these cases involve people with disabilities or people with a family member with a disability.
This week we were contacted by a family that have been denied residency due to the possible health needs of Jacqueline Ingram, wife and mother. Jacqueline and her family moved to Australia in 2011 from South Africa seeking a better life for her family. She and Clive, her husband, have two children. The family have been denied residency as Jacqueline has kidney disease.
Both Jacqueline and Clive are educated professionals; Clive has a law degree from South Africa and Jacqueline a Masters (MBA) from the USA. Both works within the disability sector in Canberra and both have undertaken studies in Australia to work.
“The disability sector is desperately short of staff, the Ingrams provide us two trained and qualified professionals to undertake a vital service in placing people with disabilities in employment,” said Dwayne Cranfield (CEO, NEDA). “It is inconceivable that we would even consider denying the Ingrams a visa.”
As Clive Ingram stated to us “We have private health insurance, and my wife’s illness is under control. We pay taxes and international school fees for our children”. “We pay our way,” said Jacquline, “we are not a burden”. Jacquline continued “If we fail in our bid for residency, we will be given 21 days notice to leave the country. Further, we are particularly devastated for our 15-year-old daughter, Caitlin who has completed most of her schooling here in Australia. She has been studying in Australia since Year 4, and the transition back to a South African school will be extremely traumatic for her.
Jacquline continued by stating ‘Caitlin is settled here in Australia and is very involved in her academic studies, sport and dance extramural activities. She has a dance performance in December which she will likely have to miss as a result of us having to pack up and leave because our immigration matter is now concluded. They have kept us in limbo since 2014 dragging out this decision. We don't even know if Caitlin would get into a high school for Year 10 in South Africa next year as their enrolments have closed in August already and most of the good schools are full by now. So that's another distressing situation for us. The life of a young teenage girl could be ruined by sending her back to South Africa, but the Department of Immigration is not interested in a human life, they just measure our situation by the financial burden we might become.”
“This is disgraceful behaviour on the part of our government,” stated NEDA President Suresh Rajan. “With the NDIS being the biggest social reform in decades, and service providers crying out for skilled staff it is ridiculous that we would send this family away. These people have chosen Australia; we should be honoured that they want to live here and contribute to our community. And this continues to show that we, as a nation, are not interested in complying with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)”.
For Clive and Jacqueline, it has also been a difficult time as they are separated from their son Brett 19, who upon completion of his studies at a private school in Canberra returned to South Africa for a holiday. Brett's visa has been cancelled by the Department of Immigration. Consequently, he is now stuck in South Africa unable to return. Their 15-year-old daughter Caitlin has been offered overseas school trips, but can't participate as if she leaves the country she will not be allowed back in due to the families visa requirement.
“When did we as a nation become so punitive” stated the NEDA President Suresh Rajan, “when did we decide that we would punish people based on illness or disabilities, separate families, cause distress and pain, rip families apart with no concern for their wellbeing. The Department of Immigration has some real soul searching to do and so do we as a nation”.
The Ingram family has a change.org petition. NEDA encourages everyone to sign this petition below. For additional information, please follow the links below:
For further information, please contact NEDA CEO Mr Dwayne Cranfield on 02 62626867 or NEDA President Mr Suresh Rajan on 0413436001.