Family face deportation over son's medical condition
THE Custodios family has been embedded in the Bell community since arriving in Australia in 2014 but any day now the business owners and their four children could be told to leave the country.
Geraldine and Geofrey Custodios and their sons - Don, 14, Geof, 13, Gain, 11, and Gerard, 10 - have called Bell home however their applications for permanent residency were rejected after the Department of Home Affairs put their youngest son's severe autism under the microscope.
In late 2018, the department claimed Gain "did not meet" the necessary health requirements needed to attain permanent residency and rejected the visa applications of all family members, giving them 45 days to leave the country, or appeal the decision.
Mrs Custodios told the Dalby Herald she pleaded with the department, even saying her two eldest sons wrote letters offering to care for Gain.
"They said 'when we get older we will take care of Gain'," Mrs Custodios said.
"When we are able to earn our own money, we will help mum and dad take care of Gain."
Mrs Custodios lodged an appeal and application for a health waiver to look into what it would take to keep Gain in the country.
An overall cost evaluation claimed the Australian government would have to spend $4,865,500 on health services.
According to the health waiver, $2,300,500 would be spent on Commonwealth disability services, $2,365,000 on state disability services, and $200,000 for special education costs.
A Department of Home Affairs spokesman told the Dalby Herald the threshold for which a case was considered "significant" was $40,000.
"A visa applicant will only fail to meet the health requirement if a medical officer of the Commonwealth assesses that the condition would prejudice the access of Australian citizens or permanent residents to services that are considered to be in short supply; or would incur a significant cost to the Australian community in the areas of health care or community services," the department spokesman said.
"If one of the members of a family unit does not satisfy these requirements, then the primary applicant will not meet the criteria for the grant of the visa."
The Custodios are awaiting the results of their appeal to the decision which could take up to 18 months.
The family is now stuck in a limbo, unsure whether they will live out their lives as Australian residents, or sent back to the Philippines.
Despite the uncertainty, Mrs Custodios said she had taken the challenges in her stride, and would continue to fight for her family's right to call Australia their home.
"I understand how the government is trying to protect their resources as well," she said.
"If everybody who needs assistance came here, it's going to be trouble for the government.
"This is just a process we have to go through."
A petition calling for the family to be allowed to stay has already gained more than 800 signatures.