Busselton family’s Aussie dream on the brink as Permanent Residency rejected due to age

Taylar AmoniniBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Taylar Amonini
Debbie, Antonia, Ricardo and Fernando Lima.
Camera IconDebbie, Antonia, Ricardo and Fernando Lima. Credit: Picture: Taylar Amonini

For most Australian families their five-year plans involve mortgages, school funds and retirement funds, but for one South West family their plan now involves safety, security and the Australian Dream.

Busselton’s Lima family has embarked on a mission to find a way to stay in Australia, away from the violent crime and corruption in South Africa, after their permanent visa journey came to a halt last year due to the parents being over 45.

Family patriarch Fernando Lima said the news they had no legal way of staying in the country they love and now call home had crushed the family of four.

According to the Federal Government, for an immigrant to become a permanent resident of Australia, they must be under 45 years old, among other criteria.

This criteria has been the damning blow for Mr Lima’s family, despite their contribution to the economy, community and Australian way of life.

Having first come to Australia in 2014 on a holiday, the family fell in love with the Australian dream and began to search for work in the South West on their return to South Africa, before securing a work visa in 2017.

“The freedom in Australia to do simple activities like sitting in a park or walking down the street without getting robbed, attacked or killed is heaven on earth because it’s a reality for anyone in South Africa,” he said.

“I don’t want to raise my children or grandchildren there, to fear for your life and safety everyday is difficult. Our children go to school here, my wife works as an audiologist, I have begun my own business. We’re not retirees, we’re still young and active in the community, we volunteer, we pay taxes and never claimed anything from either government and don’t plan to now.”

Having been knocked back for permanent residency, the family has been given a four-year renewal on their work visa which will be spent searching for a way to stay in the country.

“We know our intentions are genuine, we are here legally and we want to stay here legally,” Mr Lima said.

“It feels as if Australia have said ‘we don’t want you here’ which hurts because Australia is so diverse and welcoming in every other way.

“We’re fleeing a bad situation but we don’t come under the refugee criteria. I believe there should be a human side of it, that each application is decided on its own merits.”

South Africa is a developing country where violent crime, poverty, corruption and inequality remain widespread, with a quarter of the population either unemployed or living on less than $2 a day.

Mr Lima said while his family lived in South Africa attempts to kidnap his daughter were made, friends harmed and fear of rape and murder were prevalent for his loved ones.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs refused to comment on the Limas’ case, however said the 45-year-old age limit had been in place since March 2018.

“Australia’s skilled migration program is designed to meet Australia’s economic, demographic and labour market needs,” he said.

“It aims to address domestic skill gaps and position Australia to better meet the challenges of an ageing population without displacing opportunities for Australians.

“The age requirement ensures that skilled workers are in a position to contribute quickly to the Australian economy.”

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