Glimmer Of Hope For Family Facing Deportation Over Son's Diagnosis
An Irish family living in Australia for 10 years has been handed a glimmer of hope as they face deportation because their young son has cystic fibrosis.
Christine and Tony Hyde are appealing to Immigration Minister David Coleman to intervene in their case for permanent residency in Australia.
Their application was earlier rejected by the Department of Home Affairs on the grounds three-year-old Darragh's condition would burden taxpayers with a "significant cost".
On Tuesday, an Administrative Review Tribunal member recommended the Hydes' case be referred to the minister. But this must first be signed off by the Department.
"At the moment, we still have no guarantee the minister is going to intervene, but we do have the member's recommendation," Christine told 10 daily after the hearing.
"It's still up in the air, but at least we have got through this hurdle. It helps us along."
Christine and Tony Hyde decided to pack up their lives in Ireland and move to Australia in 2009.
They've been living in the regional town of Seymour, 100 kilometres north of Melbourne, where Christine works as an assistant principal and Tony volunteers with the State Emergency Service.
The couple applied for permanent residency in August 2015, weeks before Darragh was born. Then came the heartbreaking news that their son had cystic fibrosis -- a genetic condition affecting the lungs and digestive system that requires ongoing medical treatment and physiotherapy.
The average cost of medical care for those with the condition is between $14,000 and $50,000, depending on severity.
As part of their application, Christine and Tony were required to submit a doctor's letter detailing their son's condition -- which the Department rejected on the grounds Darragh's condition was severe, and at a significant cost to the taxpayer.
“Everything that you work for, to build a life here, to give ourselves good opportunities and Darragh as well ... to then class your child as a burden, it was devastating," Tony said, in a recent interview with The Project.
The couple appealed the decision, using letters from Darragh's doctors to show their son's condition was progressing slower than average.
"Darragh is a bright boy with a positive future ahead of him," the parents wrote in an online petition that, at time of writing, has over 65,000 signatures.
While their appeal was being reviewed, they began medicating Darragh with Kalydeco, a subsidised cystic fibrosis drug available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
They were then told the cost of the drug is the problem; without the government subsidy, it would cost patients around $300,000 per year.
The family's final appeal to the Administrative Review Tribunal on Tuesday was a last-ditch attempt for ministerial intervention.
"They have refused our visa based on the medical officer's opinion which is what we knew would happen," Christine said.
She said the outcome is acknowledgement their case "meets some of the criteria" that would warrant inquiry from the minister.
"If we do sit in front of the minister, I do believe we'll be fine," she said.
"The trouble now is getting there. If the department chooses not to refer the case, the minister won't see it."
In an earlier statement to The Project, the Home Affairs department said it does not comment on individual cases and that it must determine whether an applicant would likely be a “significant cost to the Australian community”.
Meanwhile, Christine said the outpouring of community support has been "phenomenal".
"Every day, we're getting positive messages. It gives up the strength to keep going."
Featured image: Supplied