I am going to finish the year of my little epistles by telling you what I most want for Christmas.
Groan! Yes, I can hear you … but wait. This is no ordinary Christmas present. And, you know what, both you and I have a share in the outcome of this gift.
Sounds a bit mysterious, doesn’t it? Well, if you stay with me for a minute, you will (I believe) be astounded by how a ‘no brainer’ has become a desperate battle for life for one very, very bright young fellow and his parents.
First up, to protect their privacy, I will not name this family or reveal things which may inadvertently lead to their identification.
Outside of that, everything you are about to read is on the record and I – and others – are in the process of trying to help them through the maze of officialdom to enable them to stay in Australia and continue to make a contribution to our society.
Let’s start some years ago when they were in another country, living and working, but the parents were both shot and wounded in a robbery. Their peace of mind was shattered. They feared for their future and that of their young son.
Fear, stress and a rising crime rate … and so it was that they sought sanctuary in Australia. Not as refugees, but via a business visa.
The father came first to Perth, but within days of his wife and son joining him, he suffered a major health issue that resulted in months, in fact, years of therapy, just to get back to some semblance of life. He’s made great progress, but is still not fully recovered.
But he does what he can around the house and also does some cleaning and simple food preparation for meals offered to youth by the church to which the family goes. Ultimately, he wants to be well enough to start a translation business.
If I am not yet clear, let me say it plainly: this family is no drain on the welfare system. They have taken responsibility for their situation and are working … and, by Jove, they are working through it.
Now to his wife. She has been a stoic, reliable support for him, while working to pay the rent, the bills, and so on.
You should see her references from employers. Brilliant. While caring for her husband and getting her son through high school, she has overcome such adversity … the mental and physical drain … and kept working – not only for income, but also giving back to the community and those who have helped her and her family.
I mentioned her son. A champion already; a great citizen of the future … wants to be a doctor, in fact, and his first couple of years at university have been a parade of high distinctions.
But getting to uni? Well, he was elected Head Boy of his high school … academically talented … a champion athlete … a community leader and mentor to younger students. Heck, is this the sort of young Australian we want in the years to come?
I have known this family for most of the time they have been in Australia, which is around six or so years now.
Like others, I see so much good in the young fellow and his parents that, honestly, it was hard not to help. I’ve given a little financially and I also like my chats with the young bloke … kind of mentoring him. They’re not a good family; they’re a great family.
But at the moment they are working their way through officialdom because the mother is a few years older than Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme would like, and because she is over 50 years of age, the regulations want her to have worked for her nominated employer for at least four years and be earning at least $129,000 per annum. She’s got the four years, but not the high income.
There is ministerial discretion in matters such as this, with the federal Immigration Minister being able to grant the family permanent residence. I hope he does; otherwise, they will be forced to leave Australia. For me, permanent residency would be the best of Christmas presents … notwithstanding the little bags of joy I have in store for my grandkids!
Australia needs people like this family. I hope we get them.
So friends, on that note … let me wish you all an early Merry (and safe) Christmas and the best of New Years. And as we celebrate, let’s take a moment to acknowledge our good fortune (yes, I know, hard work is required to get that), and spare a thought for those who work equally hard but without the commensurate return.