Despite being model migrants in a tiny country town, a family is being deported purely because one of their children has autism.
Our government is moving to deport a family from Australia purely because one of their children has been diagnosed with Autism.
The Custodio family have built a life and become vital members of their local community over the last five years, in Bell, a small town of 500 people on Queensland’s Darling Downs. As this SBS article on this story states so succinctly:
Not only are they a model migrant family in terms of their education and contribution to the local community; they consider themselves a poster family for the federal government’s campaign for migrants to settle and invest in regional areas.
Bell is part of the large Maranoa electorate held by Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud who has repeatedly highlighted “the massive skill shortage, particularly in rural and regional areas”.
Yet the family is now facing deportation because 11-year old Gain, who has autism, “does not satisfy the health requirements” of the Federal Government’s immigration policy.
I myself have been diagnosed with autism (ASD), and I certainly do not see myself as a burden on Australian society because of it, nor do many others, thankfully. I am not even receiving NDIS funding yet, despite 18 months trying to get approved and meeting the NDIA’s own strict requirements for what qualifies when it comes to an ASD diagnosis.
I certainly do not see this family as a burden on Australian society, regardless of which country they originally came from. To deny them permanent residency now despite their deep ties to the community and hard-working ethos that is characteristic of many immigrants, all because their child has autism, is beyond cruel and heartless.
We have seen some very un-Australian decisions made because of this medical policy that applies to immigrants, all on the supposed basis that a well-off country like ours cannot bear to possibly provide medical care for those with a serious(?) medical condition that is no fault of their own.
What kind of message does this send to Australia and the world? We will look after your children with the NDIS (despite slashing funds for it and outsourcing assessment decisions), but only if you were born in this country originally, otherwise you’re out.
That really makes it the lucky country then doesn’t it, and very unlucky for anyone who emigrates to Australia only to find out one of their children has a previously undiagnosed medical condition.
We have seen some spectacularly cruel practices from this Government…but this particular case has really hit home personally for me.
If you want to read the full justification for the Government’s decision here, I encourage you to read the full SBS article, I am not going to go into all the details here. There is a petition going on Change.org though you can sign if you find this as appalling as I do.
However, more than just signing the petition, I would very strongly encourage everyone to call Minister David Littleproud, call Prime Minister Scott Morrison, contact your local members and Senators, and tell them Australia will not stand for treating anyone this way.
We have seen some spectacularly cruel practices from this Government, from dog-whistling over Sudanese migrants in Melbourne to refusing to commit to placing gun-loving One Nation last on the coming ballot paper, but this particular case has really hit home personally for me.
If you know anyone with ASD, family, friends, children of friends, work colleagues etc, I ask you to think about how you would feel if they were faced with being deported purely because of their medical condition.
The government needs to do the thing, grant permanent residency to the Custodia family and give them access to the same opportunities everyone else has in this country and that we all deserve.
It is time to stop demonising people for being diagnosed with Autism, we all deserve better than that.