Temporary visa holder fails to meet work requirements while dying of cancer. Family to be deported. Is this the best Australia can do?

ABC News Raj Udawatta migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka on a temporary work visa.

His wife Florence Udawatta moved to Kempsey in 2016 to join him In Kempsey, NSW.

He was the primary visa holder for the family and soon became well-liked in the community. As a mechanic, he often helped fix people’s cars on weekends and after hours at no extra cost.

 17-year-old son, Ruvish, is a youth group leader and has just been elected vice-captain of his school.

His goal is to study medicine and work as a doctor in a regional area.

Hirushi, his older sister, is training to become a chef.

Their siblings, eight-year-old Jeniffer and seven-year-old Duane pray every morning before jumping on the school bus with beaming smiles.

Family friend and church pastor Moira Hodgekiss said the Udawattas were an immigration “success” story.

But the past few years have not been easy.

Raj Udawatta was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018 and became so ill he could no longer work — a key requirement of his temporary skilled visa.

Fearing deportation, Florence Udawatta applied for protection visas. 

She had not heard back from the Department of Immigration when the family celebrated her husband’s 50th birthday in September.

A day later, he died.

Less than a month later, the department notified Ms Udawatta that her protection visa applications had been rejected. 

It gave her one month to appeal the decision or leave the country.

Florence Udawatta is hoping that Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge will intervene.

Immigration Minister Alan Tudge is adopting a hands-off approach

In a statement, Mr Tudge expressed his “deepest sympathies” to the Udawatta family. 

He said there were “mechanisms” within the Migration Act to “deal with compassionate and compelling cases”, but he added it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.

But then Alan Tudge has got a lot on his mind the moment.

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