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Please don’t send Banik family away from their home just because Arko has mild autism…

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In 2007, Dr Biswajit “Jit” Banik and his wife, Dr Sarmin Sayeed (both internationally qualified medical practitioners) arrived in Australia along with their only son, Arkojeet, then aged 3 years of age.

Since arriving, Jit has completed a PhD in Men’s Health, establishing himself as an international expert in rural Men’s Health and an academic  in the Faculty of Medicine at Melbourne’s Monash University, whist his wife, Sarmin, obtained her Australian medical registration and worked tirelessly as a general practitioner in a Melbourne suburban general practice while completing a PhD in women’s health at the Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University (Dr Sarmin already has a Masters of Public Health).

 Today, the Banik family continues to contribute to the Australian society with both Jit and Sarmin working full-time as medical professionals: Jit as an academic at Monash University, and Sarmin as a highly regarded, popular and trusted local GP working for Health Watch Australia.

Yet, despite their extraordinary personal and academic achievements and contributions to the Australian community over the last nine years, and their collective potential to make enormous future contributions to Australia and the wider international community, the Australian Government has decided that Sarmin and Jit’s value and personal efforts do not outweigh the ‘burden’ of accepting their child, Arkojeet aged 12, who has mild autism.

 On the 9th of July 2015, the Baniks’ application for permanent residency was rejected however it’s currently been reviewed by the immigration Minister for a Ministerial Intervention. This is despite the fact that they were initially accepted and nominated by an Australian government agency for a Skilled Nominated Visa, deeming them as professionals possessing skills ‘highly beneficial and desirable’ to the Australian society, prompting them to uproot themselves and move to Australia in good faith to re-establish their whole lives.

Now, nine years on, with a legacy of enormous contributions and commitment to Australia, which they have embraced deeply and yearn to call home, the immigration rejected the Banik's application, purely because of Arkojeet’s condition; a condition which has been deemed as mild, and one which Dr Jit and his wife Sarmin have managed thus far by themselves, without any burden whatsoever to the Australian community or Government funded resources.

To say that Arkojeet represents a significant burden to Australia is simply not true. It is also far outweighed by the past and future potential contributions made by his parents to the Australian community; including, working tirelessly and honorably and paying their fair share taxes to the Australian governement over the years without any extraordinary claims for financial or other support.

Since arriving in Australia, Arkojeet has been diagnosed by his Paediatrician, GP and several Australian psychologists, and more importantly by the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) with a “mild autism spectrum” disorder, which has been extermely well managed with appropriate care and early interventions by his parents, both of whom are highly skilled in this area of medicine and who possess both the medical expertise and values to responsibly care for their child without placing the burden of care on anyone else, including the Australian government.

The majority of Arkojeet’s behaviours are classified as normal for his age and his only symptoms are minor attention and communication difficulties. With continuing improvements in his behaviour and development, Arkojeet is currently being considered for a transition to a mainstream school in Melbourne.

Please do not allow the Banik’s to be rejected by Australian immigration. Not only do they represent the type of professionals both desirable and necessary to the future of Australia, but also ones with the most exemplary and highest of all values and outlook; something attested to by their academeic achievements, community and workforce contributions, the enduring friendships they have established and the extraordinary manner in which they have been embraced by friends, collegues, locals and patients alike.

Furthermore, if Arkojeet were forced to return to Bangladesh, nearly ten years of positive progress would likely be halted. A country such as Bangladesh not only lacks the expertise and services required to help Arkojeet’s autism to improve, but is rife with social stigma and bullying in relation to mental disorders. If Arkojeet were forced to leave this supportive Australian environment, his safety, dignity and wellbeing would all be put at significant and great risk.

Their wishes are simple and ones that everyone can understand and embrace; firstly, to protect their child and provide the best and most supportive environment for him to thrive and reach his full potential, and secondly, to be at home in a place which allows them to continue being who they are; two extraordinary, intelligent, hard-working, selfless and caring individuals with a perpetual thirst to continually learn, grow,  evolve, give and contribute to society, with full responsibility for themselves and their loved ones and continually exercising their best endeavours wherever possible to make the world a richer and better place for all.   

Won’t you please, please help them?

If you, like us, have been touched by Banik family’s personal circumstances and associated challenges and are willing to support our appeal, please sign the attached online petition and help the Banik's plead with the Immigration Minister to let them stay in the country that they yearn to call home.

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