ASTUTE

Ministerial Intervention

Dear Minister

What do you do when another request for Ministerial Intervention lands on your desk? One out of the hundreds and thousands to not even successfully reach your office. Have you met these people pleading for your attention? Have you considered what it feels like to live with uncertainty and fear of being kicked out of a country you love so much?

Behind every faceless piece of paper on your desk is a real human being with real stories. Perhaps it makes it easier or more efficient to see these people as another application number, to apply the assessment rubric because if you had to delve into the stories of each and every request, you would never get through them all. However…

I wish just for one day you could be in my shoes. The shoes of an advisor trying to console a  debilitated family having just lost a husband, a father, a brother, a son – taken too soon and too suddenly, unable to process his passing before being thrust into the woes of immigration matters. It has barely been a week since the family I met today lost their loved one. 

Their story begins with a highly-skilled man packing his life into a suitcase, leaving Europe for Australia where his unique set of skills is high in demand. He migrated with his family on an Employer Sponsored visa and they started building their life with the intention of making Australia a permanent home. The children are enrolled in schools and involved in local sports clubs, close relationships have been formed, exciting projects worked on, properties overseas sold – the future looked good. Fate, however, was anything but. 

At the time of his passing, he was a few months short of applying for Permanent Residency.

I enter a family house filled with flowers – this is a family that is loved and supported by their local community. Trophies and medals are lined up on the shelves. A usually cosy family house is filled with pain and sorrow. I look into their bloodshot eyes and while I would like to grieve with them, my mind is going a mile a minute, thinking of the best strategy to intercept their falling future before it completely shatters. Through their pain, I want to bring them hope. Hope that the family still has a future in this country while being fully aware that there are not many avenues available to them. 

Minister, your discretionary powers are such that you can intervene but are not legally bound to do so. But even getting to this step, we both know is no easy feat. An application must be made, a refusal received, a Tribunal decision finalised with a referral sent to your office. This may take time – months, even years of uncertainty for the grieving family. At the end of it all, they might not even receive a favourable decision because you might not think it is in the public interest to exercise your powers. All the effort, time, money, and tears amounting to a brief letter that just means that they are no longer welcomed here. 

Many families are going through a similar scenario. The Australian Government has benefited from deceased migrants through taxes paid in large digits and implemented public projects. The least this country can do is show our gratitude by allowing their families to continue to live in Australia and benefit from the contributions of their loved ones. They deserve stability in these turbulent times in their lives and our support as a community. They deserve your attention.

Dear Minister, would you like your family to suffer like this?

Sincerely yours

Ieva