A decision by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to refuse a ‘woman at risk visa’ application has left a Perth teenager distraught by the prospect of being unable to reunite with her Afghan mother, who is alone and living in Quetta, Pakistan after fleeing her homeland years earlier.
The schoolgirl and her younger brother came to Australia under extraordinary circumstances. At age six, her father deserted the family, leaving her mother to fend for both children in Malestan, Afghanistan.
At age nine, the family of three were forced to flee their war-ravaged homeland of Afghanistan to seek refuge in neighbouring Pakistan, where conditions were tough and the family had little food.
Her father traveled to Australia by an illegal boat in 2001 where he was subsequently caught by authorities and placed in an immigration detention facility. Within six months he had obtained a temporary protection visa and in 2008 he sponsored his children to Australia on child protection visas.
Whilst their mother was devastated that her children would be leaving her, she agreed for them to go, because Australia could offer them an education and a better quality of life.
Upon arriving in Australia, the teenager, who is fearful for her mother’s well-being, has struggled to obtain a ‘woman at risk visa’ for her mother, who is alone and separated from her family who are now living in Australia.
The Department of Home Affairs refused the ‘woman at risk visa’ application on the grounds that the application lacked compelling evidence that the teenager needed her mother in Australia or that the mother’s well-being was under threat.
The angst of being separated from her mother has taken its toll on the schoolgirl. She suffers from chronic anxiety, she has had suicidal thoughts and she has been hospitalised for panic attacks on two occasions.
There are no review rights for a refusal of an application for a ‘woman at risk visa’.
The schoolgirl’s mother can apply under the parent category, where there are two options available; the parent visa, which costs just over AUD $2,000 but will take approximately 15 years to process, or the contributory parent visa, which will cost over AUD $42,000 and will require a security bond of AUD $10,000.