This is a letter that I never wanted to write because it has meant disclosing personal facts about myself but also because as an Australian citizen brought up to believe Australia is a country where all get a “fair go,” but I have come to realize the principles of being given a fair go seem to have been abandoned and in particular relating to immigration rules and requirements, specifically when one applies to obtain a holiday visa, even a holiday visa for a short stay,
Let me explain, as a long serving member of the police service and a public prosecutor, the onus of proof in a criminal case rested on the prosecution, but that principle sometimes shifted to the accused or defendant but rarely in the cases I dealt with during my police career.
I am 84, but will turn 85 in May this year. An Australian citizen, I am presently in Thailand where I initially came to take a TEFL course and do voluntarily teaching of youths and unemployed women in English in the hope of my students gaining a knowledge of English, spoken and written, which would help in their job search and opportunities.
Many of my former students succeeded and are now gainfully employed in business and commerce,
I have terminal prostate cancer and a broken neck suffered in 2020 during a nasty fall. My ability to walk unaided is about 70% and the disability means I never go out for fear of falling, can no longer do the chores needed in my apartment and need help to go to and from the cancer hospital once a month when I see my oncologist and get very, very expensive hormone therapy treatment.
My only son died from a sudden cardiac arrest in Singapore last June, aged just 49 and leaving a wife and two school age children.
Prior to his death, my son sent me enough money each month to cover the rent of my small apartment, but the cost of my hormone treatment I then met from my Australian age pension, albeit with merely enough left over to buy small grocery items, such a tin soup.
I outlined my growing financial difficulties and my personal living circumstances occasioned by my cancer and disabilities to Services Australia, to Centrelink and the Australian Embassy in Bangkok and, through a welfare officer assigned with Centrelink she advised to return home to Perth.
In Bangkok, a 43 year old ex student of mine assists me daily as a volunteer, unpaid carer, including doing my room cleaning, undertaking my basic washing and ironing, shopping and takes me to and from the cancer hospital once a month.
She starts her work for me usually at 9 am and by midday she goes to open her own hair salon and works there as a trained ladies hair dresser and stylist until after 10 pm daily, She opened hair business over 11 years ago and as a large customer base.
She has savings in her bank accounts, rents her own apartment near her hair salon, has many local friends, and has family living outside of Bangkok in her home province, also a home she previously she had built for her mother. She has a valid Thai passport, a Thai identity card, card, no criminal record, or ever been in trouble with the police, She has previously travelled on holiday to Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
She is in good health and her hair dressing business provides here with a steady and secure income stream.
In returning home to Perth to get the cancer care and treatment I require the assistance of my carer to accompany me on a flight to Perth, as my disability is such I need support in walking and then there would be the requirements to handle, retrieve and collect my personal baggage.
My career has offered to escort me home by plane and to help me find a small room to rent, to see I register with a local GP and then arrange that I get a referral to the Sir Charles Gardiner hospital to follows with cancer treatment, and stay for say a month until Age Care could provide me with daily help.
I thought getting my carer a month long holiday visa would not pose any problem, given all I have outlined about the bona fides of my carer, her genuine reasons for returning home to Bangkok after seeing me “settle in,” but to my utter dismay and retaining the belief that Australia gave a fair go to its citizens, I wrote to a locally based Australian Immigration Agent asking about the procedure for a holiday visa for my career and got the following reply from him, which I quote.
“Your situation is awful but there is no visa available to your carer.
We can try and apply for a visitor visa for your carer, but the Department will not view her as being a genuine visitor, so the visa is likely to be refused. Furthermore, their view would be that she would be taking the place on an Australian employee.
However, if she was your partner and coming to Australia there is a chance.
The reality is that getting a visitor visa for a Thai national is a very difficult task.
We would be happy to try and submit an application with the best chance of success, but you need to know the reality of the chances.
“I would really like to give you positive options, but here are none.”
End of quote.
The circumstances I have reluctantly outlined clearly shifts the burden of proof to my carer to satisfy the Australian Immigration Authorities of her intention to return to Bangkok after briefly staying with me in Perth can be believed, but also very concerning to me, and in my view insulting and demeaning of the Thai/Australia relations are the comments the Registered Immigration Officer made, which I have underlined.