Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) is calling for the community to help a Tamil refugee family secure a life of peace and certainty in the town they have known and loved for more than three years.
Neelavanna Paramanathan, his wife Suganthini and their three daughters Nive, 4, Nivash, 8, and Kartie, 6, are facing deportation back to Sri Lanka after being denied any further chance of applying for a protection visa.
RAR is requesting the government to grant the family a visa on compassionate grounds after exhausting all other legal avenues.
To help achieve this, letters are being written to the Immigration Minister describing how loved, wanted and respected the family is within the community.
“We just need as many letters as possible,” coordinator Rose Turtle Ertler said.
“The more we can demonstrate the community is behind them, the better. We’re after that impact.
“At the moment they don’t know what will happen from one day to the next. All they want is peace and they want certainty.”
Refugee advocate Kath Morton said the grassroots movement would not be deterred by previous setbacks.
“You keep hoping that you will have success eventually,” she said. “Ballarat people want them to be here, they want to be here, but we have to get an immigration lawyer to stand for them and that’s very costly.
“We’ve been doing some fundraising, but we also want letters that will move the government and that’s not easy to do, which is why we want the letters in big quantities.”
Unable to work, the family is surviving on donations and financial assistance from organisations such as RAR and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
But Ms Morton said they were still able to make a signification contribution to the community.
“Neil volunteers for the SES and he gets called upon a lot, and Sugaa assists in aged care on a regular basis. They can’t be paid of course, but they’re very happy to be doing something for our community,” she said.
RAR is holding a letter writing session at Ballarat Library on Doveton Street on Thursday, November 24, from 11am until 12.30pm.
Alternatively, you can simply send a letter to Kath Morton, 32 Hillcrest Road, Nerrina, Ballarat, Vic 3350.
“We’re grateful for people who write just one letter. Everything helps and they all add up,” Ms Morton said.