Please do not abandon our sister Rochelle due to her having Down Syndrome-Minister Dutton

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My parents, Neville and Teresa Browne deserve the right to spend the rest of their days with all their children. Neville and Teresa live in Kolkata in India. My youngest sister, Rochelle lives with them. Dad is 80, Mum is 79 and Rochelle is 33. Aside from Rochelle, Mum and Dad have four other daughters. All of those daughters live in Perth and are married and each has two children. All of them are also Australian citizens.

We applied on 30 July 2007 for Parent Visa Sub Class 103 to migrate to Australia. The visa waiting period is 10 years. Now the Immigration department (Border Protection/Home Affairs) has processed the application and denied residency status to the family. That decision has since been affirmed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The reason for the negative decision is that my sister, Rochelle has Down syndrome. The department therefore argues that she will be a “burden to the taxpayer in Australia and have denied visas to all the applicants (Mum, Dad and sister).

After this rejection, we then applied to the Administrative Appeals tribunal where unfortunately we were not given a chance to submit further documentation and evidence to support our case. We were informed that the hearing was on the 27th March, 2018 and the letter stated that we could submit further documentation and evidence to support our case which we understood to be lodged before the hearing date. I received a phone call a week prior to the hearing from the tribunal asking if I would like to accept a video link which I did not understand what that meant at the time and so I said no. After speaking to my family, I then understood what it meant and rang back first thing the next morning to say yes I agree to having a video conference but the tribunal said the decision had already been made that the Immigration Department decision was upheld and rejected - which was before the 27th March, 2018 date stated in the letter. 

Over the ten year period from the date of the application, Mum, Dad and Rochelle have come to Australia on a number of occasions to spend family time with their children and grandchildren (Nieces and Nephews). There has never been any issue on those occasions.

Down Syndrome Western Australia have supported our application and stated the following: “Down syndrome is not an illness and the majority of people with Down syndrome are healthy and active.” Although people with Down syndrome can be more likely to have certain health conditions such as bowel or heart problems, Rochelle appears to be a healthy adult who leads a healthy lifestyle and it could be expected that she would require no more medical treatment than the rest of the population”.

Rochelle will not require health or community care services. She will not be in any fashion, a burden to the taxpayer. However, if we separate the applications and remove Rochelle then she will be left in India quite possibly in a care facility with people she does not know. Additionally, the four sisters in Perth will allocate time each year when they will go to India to care for her. At that time there will be a cost to the Australian taxpayer, when we have to take leave without pay to do this.

The only person who can change this decision is Minister Dutton. For us to be able to convince Minister Dutton that he should intervene in this case and allow our parents and sister to come here is for us to have a number of signatures on the attached petition calling for him to allow them to do so.

Please take the time to sign the petition and we urge you to also share it on the various social media sites to garner greater support.