Dear Minister O’Connor,
First of all, I would like to congratulate you for being instrumental in the implementation of the Gillard Government’s community proposal pilot which allows for community organisations to nominate persons and families as refugees under a humanitarian sponsorship program.
This initiative recognises the compassionate aspects of immigration and at the same time involves the community organisations in a partnership for the refugees’ settlement. It also contributes to further understanding within the community by acknowledging the value systems being upheld by specific cultural communities.
Your ministry’s community-focused initiative gave me courage to respectfully write to you with regard to our application for a carer for our mother who turned 94 years old this year.
Our mother received an Impairment Assessment of 40 points which exceeded the 30 points required to be met for application for a carer’s visa.
The carer we nominated has been working as a Nurse in Singapore since 2009. She passed the Nursing Board Examination in the Philippines in her first attempt and was readily approved to work in Singapore. She is also our mother’s step granddaughter whom our mother supported including her education.
We have requested the then Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Hon Chris Bowen, MP to exercise his Ministerial discretion as allowed by the Migration Act, to approve on compassionate grounds our application for a carer for my frail and impaired mother.
Our application was supported by submissions of two Federal Ministers who appreciate my contributions to the community.
Sixteen other community organisation and media leaders also supported our application.
We were devastated to receive a letter signed by the Assistant Manager, NSW Ministerial Intervention that, as the new Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, you have “… decided that it would not be in the public interest to intervene”.
In our mind, we have been asking what is it in our application that was considered not in the “public interest”?
On points of “public interest“, I would like to ask the following questions:
* Would it not be in the public interest that my mother does not use Australia’s limited resources for aged care facilities, by being cared for at our home?
* Would it not be in the public interest that my mother would not require health care and use of public funds by preventing anxiety and depression to aggravate her health condition, and granting her wish to be cared for by someone who is a family member?
* Would it not be in the public interest that the carer ~ who is experienced and a qualified nurse ~ will be contributing to the economy of Australia as a consumer as well as pay taxes where applicable, and without the government having to spend on her health, education and well being before coming to Australia to care for my frail mother?
* Would it not be in the public interest that the carer we nominated (who is a qualified and experienced nurse) could help alleviate the shortage of experienced nursing staff in the country as she could also work a few hours as allowed by the carer’s visa?
Considering the recommendations for approval contained in 18 letters of support from two Members of Parliament and various members of the Filipino-Australian media, leaders of community organisations and the secretary-general of a national sport organisation, is it unreasonable to expect that those who supported our application have also considered public interest?
Each of those who supported our application for intervention on compassionate grounds would have assessed in depth the role I do for a number of organisations, and that your approval of our pleading will allow me to continue helping the community and the country in the area of community journalism and sports.
I wish to share that an example due to difficulties we now face, recently I have resigned as Media & PR of the sport organisation, which position I have held since 2006. My role necessitated going with the national teams when they compete in world championships and other significant international as well as attend national competitions. In addition we also need to visit our younger son who plays professionally in Germany and who is the Team Captain of the national sports team in the world championships and other important overseas tournaments.
I am also a freelance writer in the Filipino-Australian media and radio broadcaster. These roles require me to cover events. Now that my mother has become more frail, I am constrained in my movements.
I submit that the approval of the visa of the prospective carer for my mother – based on compassionate grounds – does not contravene public interest. In fact, it is in line with Australia’s public interest considerations and with the ministry’s recent community initiative.
Your approval of the carer’s visa can promote public interest as the prospective carer can help minimise usage of public aged health care resources, and can help minimise the shortage of qualified nurse in the country in addition to the savings that the country will benefit by not spending on the education and training of medical related professionals.
We look forward to receiving a response from your office to our desperate request for you to exercise Ministerial Intervention on compassionate grounds to grant our pleadings.
*** Please see separate commentary on what is “public interest”. / Ed. 16/06/2013
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