Aneesh Kollikkara, a Perth-based telecommunications technician, his wife Krishnadevi Aneesh, a cyber security expert, and their two children, Aaryan (10 yo) and Aaryasree (8 yo) have finally been granted permanent residency after three years of battle.
The family said in a statement:
“We are overwhelmed with joy as we share the news that the minister has granted our family permanent residency. We have been waiting for this moment for three long years, and it feels like a dream come true.”
Social justice campaigner Suresh Rajan tweeted the development: “Letter received from Minister Giles’ office granting permanent residency to Krishna and Aneesh. Hallelujah!”
The family arrived in Australia in 2016 and the Immigration Department rejected the family’s permanent residency application in mid-2021 after being lodged in February of the year before.
The rejection was due to the potential costs Aaryan’s disability might have on the health system.
Aaryan has a mild intellectual disability (Down’s Syndrome) that as per the Australian Government is a “significant cost to the Australian community”.
The immigration department and federal government had calculated that looking after Aaryan would cost $664,000 over 10 years including carer payments and special education services.
Aneesh and Krishna observed:
“Our family Was devastated. We haD built a life here, made friends and established ourselves as part of the community.”
Despite Aneesh and Krishna working in critical industries in Australia that are facing a skill shortage, immigration denied their Permanent Residency Visas.
“This has been entirely attributed to Aaryan’s condition. The Australian Government deems Aaryan a “Burden” to the taxpayer, which is sickening and ableist.”
The family says that Aaryan currently accesses no services, and is also unlikely ever to do so as both children are privately schooled and the family has private health insurance too.
“By working in critical industries and paying significant amounts of tax, any taxpayer-funded services that Aaryan may require would be well and truly covered by our contributions.”
In mid-February 2023, the family was told that they have less than two weeks to leave the country after their final appeal was denied.
Aneesh and Krishna were facing the prospect of leaving Perth – their home and friends – which could have a detrimental effect on their children’s development.
The family observed:
“We have no family or support network in India, and we fear for Aaryan’s future. The quality of medical care Aaryan will receive, the stigma he will face, and the opportunities he will miss out on worry us.”
The family submitted a Ministerial Intervention request to the Hon Andrew Giles, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs.
After the family’s change.org petition received more than 28,000 signatures to demonstrate to Minister Giles that the Australian community also supports Aneesh and Krishna’s family to stay in Australia.
The family said:
“Words cannot express how happy we are to be able to stay in this wonderful community and provide a safe and nurturing environment for our children. I want to express our deepest appreciation to everyone who has supported us along the way.”
In his decision, Minister Giles refers to the 28,000 signatures that showed the Australian public’s support for Aneesh and Krishna’s family to meet ‘the public interest criteria.’
Aneesh and Krishna say that they are obviously “disappointed” with the current Australian immigration rules, but are hopeful that the Labor government will review the migration act to create a more fair and just system.
“It shouldn’t be a torturous process for families to fight for their right to stay in a place they call home. Every family deserves the chance to build a future in a safe and welcoming environment. We urge you to join us in advocating for change and calling on your Members of Parliament to prioritise human rights and fair immigration policies.”
During 2021-22, when Aneesh and Krishna applied for permanent residency, there were around 1800 individuals who failed to meet the visa health requirement.
Australia’s Migration Act is exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act. This exemption makes it very difficult for families with a member with a disability to get permanent residency.
The family is excited about their future in Australia and feels lucky to have the unwavering support of the community throughout this process.