Family’s fury after great-grandmother given just 28 days to leave, after 11 years in Australia

Mollie Manley and her great-granddaughter Jasmine, 3. Source: Supplied

Mollie Manley's family have received a letter telling them the 93-year-old has 28 days to leave the country. But they fear she won’t survive the trip back to England.

A great-grandmother who has lived in Australia for more than a decade has been given just 28 days to leave the country, with her family describing the government's actions as reminiscent of a 'right-wing dictatorship'. 

Mollie Manley, from Somerset in England,  has lived in Perth for 11 years alongside her three grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren - who are all Australian citizens.

Earlier this month, SBS News revealed the 93-year-old was facing a return to her home country - where she has no remaining relatives - after failing Australia's permanent visa requirements on health grounds.

Her son-in-law, Robert Rowe, confirmed to SBS News Ms Manley had now been given 28 days to leave on Monday.

“She’s been here 11 years, but she failed the medical on health grounds, she’s gone blind in that time and old … yesterday, I received a letter by email stating that they cancelled her visa application and she has 28 days to leave the country,” he said.

Mollie Manley with her four-year-old great granddaughter, Jasmine, in her aged care home last year.
Mollie Manley with her four-year-old great granddaughter, Jasmine, in her aged care home last year.

Ms Manley arrived in Australia healthy, but she now requires assistance and Mr Rowe said if she survives the next three weeks, the family will appeal the decision.

“We have 21 days to appeal the decision, but she may not last that long. She is very frail; we may suspect she may die. But if she survives then we will appeal the decision.”

The Department of Home Affairs said it did not comment on individual cases, but confirmed "individuals aged 50 years or older, who have been refused an Australian permanent visa on health grounds and are unfit to depart Australia may be eligible for a Medical Treatment visa".

"All applications will be assessed on their own merit," the department said in a statement.

"The Minister has personal intervention powers under the Migration Act 1958 that allow him to grant a visa to a person, if the Minister thinks it is in the public interest to do so."

According to the government’s immigration health criteria, permanent residency applicants must be free from an illness or condition which “would be likely to require health care or community services" and result in more than $40,000 in costs.

Mr Rowe moved to Australia with his wife nearly 15 years ago. He said his mother-in-law had followed four years later on a visitor’s visa before applying for an Aged Parent visa (subclass 804).

Ms Manley's family do not believe she would survive the flight back to the UK.
Ms Manley's family do not believe she would survive the flight back to the UK.

Aged parent visas are available to people with more than half of their children living in Australia, who are old enough to receive the aged pension, pass the medical and character tests, and are able to provide assurance that they will not rely on the government for support.

Ms Manley was looked after by her family most of the time until they placed her in an aged care home two years ago. Her care has so far been covered under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between Australia and the UK, according to Mr Rowe.

Ms Manley’s family was told the application process could take up to 13 years, and she was allowed to stay in Australia on a bridging visa.

In May, the family was informed that Ms Manley had failed her visa application on health grounds - unless they could give a reason why the decision was incorrect.

Mr Rowe said the decision was unfair.

“It seems to me that we are becoming a right-wing dictatorship. We practice the same thing that the Germans practiced during the war [WWII]. Anybody who has any disability or illness, we refuse to have them in the country,” he told SBS News.

The family has not told Ms Manley about her visa problems because they fear it will upset her, but Mr Rowe said she seems aware of it.

“Somebody else must have told her in the care home she is in because she said to my wife ‘they are not going to send me back, are they?’.”

Mr Rowe said he believed the 93-year old would not survive the flight to England.

Mollie Manley, far left, and her family in Australia.
Mollie Manley, far left, and her family in Australia.

According to disability advocacy groups, more than 15 families are threatened with deportation from Australia every year due to one family member's disability or illness.

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