The Hyde family has ramped up their appeal efforts to stay in Australia
An Irish family based outside of Melbourne in Australia is “terrified” about the prospect of deportation after learning that their son Darragh's Cystic Fibrosis is deemed a "financial burden" on Australia taxpayers.
The Irish Times reports on Christine and Anthony Hyde, both of whom are from Dublin but emigrated to Australia and settled in Seymour, outside of Melbourne.
In 2015, the couple submitted an expression of interest to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection indicating that they wanted to apply for a skilled visa and permanent residency.
Christine, a teacher, and Anthony, a bus driver, met the criteria as Christine is a teacher and Australia had a shortage of qualified teachers in rural areas. The couple was invited to apply for permanent residency.
Part of the permanent residency application requires applicants to undergo medical assessments. Christine was six months pregnant at that point in the application, and since the assessments involved X-rays, she would have to wait until after she gave birth to complete it.
Eight weeks after the couple’s son Darragh was born on August 18, 2015, a heel prick test confirmed that the newborn had cystic fibrosis.
Since Christine and Anthony were not permanent residents of Australia at the time of their son’s birth, Darragh would also have to be added to the application process and undergo his own medical assessment.
Darragh’s doctor had to submit a letter detailing the newborn’s condition, which Christine and Anthony initially thought would not affect their residency prospects.
However, a medical officer later determined that Darragh’s condition could mean he would need a lung transplant and medical treatment, costs that would fall on the Australian taxpayer.
As such, Darragh and his condition were deemed a “financial burden” to the people of Australia, and the family’s application for residency was refused.
Christine tells The Irish Times: “We have been appealing that decision ever since.”
She explained how a medical officer, who never personally assessed Darragh, labeled the child’s condition as “severe,” despite Darragh’s own doctors saying that it is “very mild” and that the drug Kalydeco has “done wonders” for her son.
“He has never been admitted to hospital,” she says. “I have friends over here who go to the hospital more regularly than Darragh for croup cough and broken bones and everything else. He’s just a normal three-year-old.”
A medical officer later revised his opinion of Darragh’s condition to mild, but it has had no effect on the family’s appeal as he may still be a financial burden to the Australian taxpayer.
Of her 3-year-old son, Christine says: “He is not seen as a citizen or resident. He is a citizen of Ireland and has an Irish passport, yet he has never stepped foot in Ireland.”
The Hyde family has recently stepped up their efforts in the appeal process by launching an online petition, which is nearing on their goal of 15,000 signatures. Their story has also garnered significant media attraction in Australia which is now spreading back home to Ireland and around the world.
On the petition’s website, Christine writes: “We have always felt extremely grateful to live in Australia.”
“I studied here gaining my Masters in Special Education. I have worked full-time as a school teacher and now as an Acting Assistant Principal and my husband works part-time as a bus driver.”
“We have been living in Australia for almost 10 years and have a strong support network here with our friends and family and we are well settled in regional Victoria.”
On April 30, Christine and Anthony Hyde will make their final appeal to the Administrative Review Tribunal to intervene in their case. The tribunal itself cannot overturn the decision, but they can refer the family’s case to Australia’s minister for immigration.
“They may or may not refer us to the minister,” says Christine. “If they don’t, we have 28 days to leave.”
The Hyde family would have to start all over elsewhere should they be deported.
“Darragh has no PPS number or anything. We would have to start applying for that. We don’t have a house. We don’t have anywhere to live,” Christine says.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get rent without any job or any bank account. I feel like we’re going to get off a plane and be homeless. It’s just… there’s nothing.
“I am terrified. I am so scared but we’re trying to do the best we can for Darragh so that we know that no matter what happens, we put up the best fight.”
You can sign the petition for the Hyde family here.