Stand together for Sathees
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Sathees is an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka who came to Australia in 2014 by
boat. Sathees was 14 years old when he took that trip alone to Australia. Upon arrival in Australia Sathees didn't know any English. Seven years on Sathees has worked extremely hard to learn English, pass year 12, complete his Diploma of Community Services and always front of mind for him has been to give back to a country who has provided a safe place for him to live for the past 7 years.
Sathees has volunteered his time for lots of organisations around Geelong and Melbourne. He now works for Scope looking after people with disabilities in the Geelong community. His goal is to one day become a social worker.
Sathees needs your help as he has been denied a SHEV visa by the Australian Government and is in grave danger of being deported. He is currently on a bridging visa E whilst applying for a Ministerial Intervention to be granted a protection visa to stay kin Australia.
As a 14-year-old, I feel very strongly that Sathees's case has not had a fair hearing and I feel so shameful that Australia could send Sathees back to a country which still persecutes Tamil people. I urge the Minister Mr Peter Dutton to look at Sathees’s case and see him as a person not a boat number who has contributed to the Australian community to make it a better place to live especially for those he cares for who have disabilities’. If you would like to know more about Sathees and the amazing contributions he is making to our country please read his full story below.
(HIS FULL STORY)
Sathees was born in Kilinochchi a small town located in the Northern province of Sri Lanka he grew up with his two younger brothers his mum and his dad. His mum worked as a housekeeper and his dad worked as a builder before the war his family lived a normal and happy life. All Sathees and his brother all went to school.
In late 2008 the war started, he was 10 at the time. The Tamil people wanted their own state, which caused conflict with the majority of rulers and a civil war broke out. Sathees’s family fled their family home as their town came under fire. He remembers going to 11 different places and they were on the move regularly. His family lost their uncle and his Auntie’s leg was blown off during the war. When the war ceased the family tried to get back to normal after 3 years of war. Then the unthinkable happened Sathees’s dad was arrested because they accused him of being a Tamil tiger and he was put in jail and has still to this day not been released or charged.
Life for his family got extremely hard with no income from his father, his mother caring for 3 boys and his disabled Auntie. Due to his father being jailed they were continually targeted by the Sri Lankan Army Sathess taking most of the Soldiers’ taunts and horrible beatings. His Mother fearing for their lives, the trauma, and distress that came from the war, and the toll of his father being arrested, she found a people smuggler.
They took the long trip from the North of Sri Lanka to the South of Sri Lanka. Sathess understood that his Mother and smaller brothers would travel together by boat to Australia. Sathees remembers being separated from his family when it was time to travel by small boat out to a larger boat. He was told not to worry that his family would be coming on the next small boat, but his mum never came, and he still doesn’t know what happened. He made the 15-day journey by himself as a 14-year-old. He explains that he felt lost without his family and the conditions were unexplainable, he was put in the bottom of the boat where there was no light and it was freezing. There were 83 people on the boat and he went 3 days without any food or water.
Their boat made it into Australian waters and was intercepted off the coast of the Cocos Islands. All 83 people were transferred to the Island to be processed by the Australian Government. He remembers being on this Island for approx. 3 weeks before being flown to the Christmas Island detention center. He stayed on Christmas Island for a couple of months before being sent to Tasmania. This was the first place where Sathees went to school. He stayed in the detention center and was only allowed out to go to school each day. After Tasmania, he was released into community detention and was transferred to Melbourne, where he lived in a community house and went to an intensive English school. After he finished language school he was transferred to Geelong and was put in a community house here in Geelong.
When he came to Geelong he had a government guardian until he turned 18. Sathees worked really hard to improve his English and completed his Cert III in Community Services and his VCAL certificate at Belmont High School. Doing the community services certificate gave him a passion to volunteer and give back to a country that had offered him a new life. He volunteered at every opportunity he could; working with Children at camps, visiting the elderly in nursing homes and becoming a Volunteer surf lifesaver over his summer break.
In October of 2017 Sathees was denied a SHEV visa due to not meeting the requirements of the Refugee Convention. The Australian Government believes there was not enough evidence to support him “being in fear of his life”. When I spoke with Sathees and asked him why he thought the Government felt this way he said “
Once denied his fast-track visa he was put on a bridging visa E. This meant that no longer would the government support him with Centre-link or housing. He needed a job
and a house fast. He moved in on a friend’s couch and this is where he lived for the next 9 months, supporting himself by washing dishes at a local café.
He knew he wanted to work in the community, his long-term career goal is to become a Social worker. Sathees applied for a disability support worker role with
Scope. Currently, Sathees works 30-40 hours per week caring for people with disabilities and absolutely looks working with all his clients. He is now supporting himself as an international student and doing his Diploma of Community Services which he graduated from in mid-2019.
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