Lankan family in distress impresses Aussie community – By Aubrey Joachim

Lankan family in distress impresses Aussie community.
By Aubrey Joachim

Sri Lankan family living in Kempsey facing deportation following father's death – by Lucy Barbour
Image Source ABC News

Aubrey JoachimJust a few days ago we Australian Lankans were lauding the achievements of eleven year old Georgia who reached out to every Australian household and heart when she demonstrated her culinary prowess on national TV. Last evening (12th November) a Sri Lankan family also appeared on national TV (ABC 7.30 report – link below) in starkly contrasting circumstances. To me both instances bring out unique Sri Lankan stories.

Raj Udawatta came to Australia in 2014 on a 457 visa to work as a mechanic and from all reports he was a very good one. In 2016 the family – wife Florence and their four children – joined him in Kempsey where they very quickly became ‘Australianised’. Florence interacted with the local church and got involved in a number of voluntary pursuits – a choice that would soon turn out to be an important one.

Life was good. The children, to whom English was foreign when they arrived, soon began to excel in their schools. Elder son 17 year old Ruvish is a youth group leader and is now the vice-captain in his high school. Plays cricket and basketball and has aspirations to be a doctor one day. Listening to him on the 7.30 report you would think that English was his mother tongue. When he started schooling he was the only kid in class who said ‘thank you’ to the teacher at the end of each class. Today his whole class follows his lead. Ironically the eldest daughter is studying to be a chef!

However, life is not always plain sailing. God challenges us in various ways. In 2018 Raj was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Recently he lost his battle and passed away leaving behind his young family who now find themselves in dire circumstances. As Raj was on a 457 visa the family was only on a bridging visa and now that the principal sponsor is no more the family’s bridging visa has been invalidated and they have been asked by Australian Immigration to leave the country.

Sri Lankan family living in Kempsey facing deportation following father's death

Sri Lankan family living in Kempsey facing deportation following father's death
Image Source ABC News

This situation is what got them on the ABC 7.30 report. Today a prominent radio host Ray Hadley (2GB) has been taking up their case, which is how I heard about it. Ray even interviewed the federal MP for Cowper who is appealing to the relevant federal ministers to consider offering the family PR. In fact the entire local community of Kempsey is supporting this family whom they describe as “model migrants who should be welcomed into this country”. Unlike some other cases this family arrived in Australia under perfectly legal conditions.

This story brings out an interesting facet that cannot be ignored. Florence, in appealing to be given the opportunity to remain in this country says in the interview that “having been here even for the relatively short period feel that we are now Australians and we would like to remain”. Ruvish speaks in impeccable English – a language which he hardly knew when he arrived in 2016 – and Florence too communicates very well and above all has integrated very well into the local community. This assimilation is what is likely to swing in their favour to obtain PR. This is a lesson to all Sri Lankan migrants.

Sri Lankan family living in Kempsey facing deportation following father's death
Image Source ABC News

It seems that having had to settle down in regional Australia this family has been immune from the affiliations to the homeland that a number of Sri Lankan migrants in the capital cities seem unable to shed – language, culture, embedded mindsets. They were forced to integrate into their new homeland. Florence’s involvement with the local Australian community such as the church and helping needy Aussies is now turning into a barrage of support for their case.

Florence and her kids need every assistance they can get in promoting their case for residency. And Ruvish, you too like Georgia have tugged at the heartstrings of every compassionate Australian.

Link to the ABC report & Images:


Comments are closed.