Old Boy saves family from deportation

December 11, 2016

We were delighted recently to hear the following story from Old Collegian and inducted College Legend John Mooney (SPC 1960-65)- of his tireless dedication to help a desperate family look forward to a bright future.

Read this lovely story from John Mooney…

“On Friday, 15th August, 2014, I received the great honour of being inducted as a Legend of our College at a dinner presentation evening at Il Gambero restaurant in Lygon Street.

In my acceptance speech, I spoke of the central theme of Social Justice and personal aspiration in the life work of Edmund Rice, the founder of The Christian Brothers.

I have now completed 50 years of teaching in Victoria.- Since 1984, I have been Principal of three large Specialist Schools for students with additional learning needs.

In my speech, I spoke of the plight of one of my current students who, along with his parents, was about to be deported in a matter of days.- This case had gone through extensive appeal processes but had been unsuccessful.- The family has given me permission to use their real names in this report.- They are Seng and Ivy Thum (parents) and their only child, Eugene.

A number of people present at the Legends’ Dinner have asked about what was the final outcome?- I promised that I would let them know.- So here is the continued story …

There were so many politicians, professionals and community members who had advocated without success.- Ivy and Seng had spent over $15,000 in employing Immigration Agents to put their case forward.- This has left them in a penniless state and their situation seemed to be hopeless.

Seng had come to Australia from Malaysia in 1998.- Ivy had come to Australia from Malaysia in 2001.- Because of their fear of political issues in Malaysia, they both overstayed their Visitor’s Visa and remained in Australia as unlawful non-citizens.- They married in 2004.- Their only child, Eugene, was born in 2005.- Eugene was born with multiple developmental needs and was enrolled at our school in 2010.

On the 10th – of May, 2011, there was a knock at the door of the family’s unit.- They had been located by the Department of Immigration.- After due consideration, they were given Bridging E Visas.- When these expired, the family applied for a Business Long Stay visa 457.- This was unsuccessful.- They were required to leave Australia as soon as possible after 26th August, 2014.- The clock was ticking …

I decided to represent the Thum family as their official agent (pro bono).- I was able to lodge a new application using new information asking the Assistant Minister to exercise her right to make a judgement based on the best interests of the community.

I followed this up with an application for a Protection Visa in September, 2014.- This application was heard in July, 2015.- On 27th July, 2015, I lodged an application for young Eugene to be given Australian Citizenship as he had reached the age of 10 years old on 23rd June, 2015.- The Act states that if a child has lived continuously in Australia until the age of 10 years without leaving the country, the child would be eligible for citizenship.

Eugene was given citizenship as of 23rd June, 2015.

We were overjoyed with this achievement!- – A happy future was potentially in sight …

I then submitted another request for Ministerial Intervention to enable Eugene’s parents to be permitted to remain in Australia as the parents of a 10 year old Australian citizen.- This led to a series of negotiations and discussions.

On the 6th of July, 2016, I was informed that following Ministerial Intervention, Ivy and Seng Thum had been granted permanent visas to live in Australia.- This was a day to cherish and remember!- Ivy and Seng have given permission to include their photograph in this report to the St Patrick’s community.- They wish to thank you for your kind thoughts and best wishes.

In a card that the Thum family gave to me, they said -… because of your tireless dedication, we can now look forward to a bright future ahead of us being a part of this wonderful nation … –

So that is my report back to the Legends’ Dinner participants on 15th August, 2014.- I hope that you share my joy and sense of doing something that was very worthwhile.