A Queanbeyan family has been left with a bleak prospect after their youngest daughter had her permanent residency application denied due to her medical condition.
The Jestingor family has been in Australia since 2014, and the community is rallying behind them to request an intervention from the Department of Home Affairs in her case.
Hope Christian Church Queanbeyan Pastor Rolando Condat says they are simply hoping for leniency and understanding from the Federal Government.
“We know what the laws of Australia are, but we hope the government can listen to us in this case of a family who has never been a burden on the taxpayer and does what they can for the community,” he said.
Pastor Condat started an online petition in early June to draw attention to the family’s case. Late this morning (7 July), the petition had garnered almost 20,000 signatures.
He says the entire family has been heavily involved with the church community since their arrival in Canberra seven years ago.
“Brother Joey coordinates a Bible study group where he mentors young families and Rezy is an usher.
“None of them has ever asked for anything from the government or been a burden on the taxpayer,” he said.
Joey Jestingor, a senior nurse at the Canberra Hospital Orthopaedics ward, left the Philippines with its precarious economy in which he says it was difficult to find work.
Since his family joined him a few months later, both his older children have completed high school and have either finished and are working or are undertaking tertiary studies.
His wife, Rezy, is a full-time carer to their youngest Patricia, who has autism and a disease in her retina, causing her to lose her vision. Rezy also volunteers her time at the church.
Pastor Condat explains that both of the older children have to provide financial support to the family.
For Joey, going back to the Philippines would be heart-breaking, not only for him and his wife but for their children, too.
“When we left the Philippines, we sold our house, our car, everything, and now we have used up all of those savings filing application after application, solicitor fees after solicitor fees.
“We wanted the children to grow up in a safer and better environment. and to become part of the Australian community.
“COVID-19 is rampant, and it’s even more difficult now than it was seven years ago to find work,” he explained.
Likewise, Joey says there is much age discrimination when it comes to finding work in the Philippines.
But, he says they are fast running out of options that would allow them to stay in the country.
The Jestingor family’s 457 visa was valid for two years, and after a sponsored application for permanent residency in 2015, the entire family’s application was rejected a year later.
The hospital agreed to sponsor another application for a temporary visa and this was granted to all of the family, excluding Patricia.
In 2017, the Jestingor family’s solicitor began appealing the decision to exclude Patricia. It’s now waiting on an intervention from the Department of Home Affairs.
Joey is currently on the last visa that the hospital has agreed to sponsor but says that it’s now much more difficult to apply for permanent residency due to his age.
Joey questions why the family’s quest to live in Australia has been so difficult.
“I don’t know what to do anymore, and I don’t know how to reach out to people in the position to help us to ask them to listen.
“Here we are growing and we are productive. My children are working and studying. If we go back to the Philippines, we are back at square one and the eight years here has been for nothing.”
“All we want is to be part of the community and to be permanent residents of Australia,” Joey explained.
You can sign the petition online.