A family living in Perth, Australia, were told last month that they would have to leave their home of seven years because their son who has Down syndrome was considered by the state as a ‘burden’ on the health system.
As a direct result of the public reaction to the news in recent days, Australia’s Federal Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, intervened at the last minute and granted the family a right to stay in the country.
Krishna Aneesh and Aneesh Kollikkara, originally from India, live in Perth with their daughter Aaryasree and son Aaryan, 10 – who has Down syndrome.
Their visa was due to expire on March 15 and an application for permanent residency was rejected on the grounds that their son would cost the state too much in carer payments and special education, on account of the fact that he has Down syndrome.
Before the deportation order was issued, the family argued that they would never avail of the care provisions cited by the state and they claimed they would likely pay more in taxes over anything the state would spend on Aaryan’s welfare.
This is not the first time that the Australian government threatened to deport families of children with special needs. The measure of a truly caring society is the way it treats its most vulnerable and defenceless members. The leaders of Australia need to do some serious soul searching and resetting of priorities to ensure nothing so shocking and discriminatory like this ever happens again.