Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has acted expeditiously and granted permanent residency to a Perth family which was facing deportation to India because one child has Down syndrome.
Aneesh Kollikkara and Krishna Aneesh had been told they had less than two weeks to leave Australia following the Immigration Department’s rejection of their application for permanent residency after their 10-year-old son Aaryan was deemed to be a burden on the taxpayer.
The boy is considered high functioning, attending a mainstream private school with no need to access NDIS support.
His 8-year-old sister is also privately schooled.
Both parents work in critical industries. Ms. Aneesh is a cyber security expert and Mr. Kollikkara is in telecommunications.
People With Disability Australia treasurer and advocate for the family Suresh Rajan told SBS News: “You cannot think in terms of human beings in monetary terms, saying: this child is a burden to the taxpayer. Where is the humanity?”
The Department of Home Affairs calculated the cost of their permanent residency at $664,000 over 10 years, including medical expenses and the cost of Aaryan’s schooling.
That’s despite him being in private schooling and never accessing NDIS funding.
Mr. Rajan estimated that even if that was the cost, the parents, and eventually Aaryan, would be paying far more than that amount in taxes.
“So where’s the burden to the taxpayer?” he asked
Australian Christian Lobby Acting Director Dan Flynn voiced concern over the message the Albanese government was sending.
He told Vision Radio: “What the government is doing is they are sending a message that if you have if a child that has Down syndrome, they’re a burden. And I think it’s a message that goes beyond the immigration issue to the life issue. It’s sending a message to everyone and to young pregnant mothers, that if their child has Down syndrome, that child really ought to be aborted because they’re a burden on society.”
“These children are not burdens. They bring a lot of joy and happiness. And this particular child is a beautiful child as they appear to be seen online,” he added.
“To deport a family because they have a child with Down syndrome is basic discrimination on the basis of disability. Nothing short of it. So we’ll be getting pretty angry. And the minister is going to be hearing from us in no uncertain terms.”
It turned out there was no need for a last minute campaign. The Minister had already received a petition with 27,000 signatures supporting the family.
As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was preparing to leave on an official trip to India, Immigration Minister Andrew Giles acted decisively and offered the Aneesh family full permanent residency.
His letter to them said that he had “personally considered” their case and acted out of “public interest”.
“I literally burst into tears, I was really happy — we can stay here, we can live in this community and we can provide a good environment for our kids. I thank everyone who supported us,” Krishna said.
Mr. Rajan said: “The minister has applied complete human rights principles here, and we’re so grateful to him for that.”
“It’s an incredible decision and incredibly quick.”