Tamil asylum seeker granted permanent residency during 1,000km walk for thousands in limbo
- A Tamil refugee has completed his 1,000km walk for asylum seekers.
- Neil Para took 40 days to complete the goal.
- Para and his family arrived by boat in Australian waters in August 2012.
“We left Sri Lanka because our life was in danger,” the 44-year-old Tamil refugee told SBS News.
“I arrived with no English language skills. The time in detention scarred me,” he said.
1,000km journey ends with giant step forward
And late last week, he received some welcome news on his own status. His immigration lawyer Carina Ford confirmed to SBS News that Immigration Minister Andrew Giles used his special ministerial powers to grant him and his family permanent residency.
Neil Para’s lawyer confirmed that late last week immigration minister Andrew Giles had used his special ministerial powers to grant the family permanent residency. Source: SBS News
“We look forward to working not walking. My kids can follow their dreams,” he said.
“I just wish those thousands of people out there can get a happy ending like we did.”
Previously supporting on community support
The Para family had spent months in offshore and onshore detention facilities, including in Darwin and Dandenong, before settling in Ballarat in September 2013.
Neil Para is pictured with his wife, Sugaa and their three daughters. He says he and his wife learned English through their volunteering efforts. Source: Supplied / Neil Para
He volunteers with the State Emergency Service in the evenings, while his wife volunteers in aged care and for the local community centre.
“Because we’re not allowed to study English, this is how we improved our English. Listening and mixing with the community, we just integrated.”
“Their help is the reason why I’ve kept going for my family,” he said.
Long-term uncertainty takes a toll
“It’s in the public interest, especially for the people of Ballarat – and other people who know the family – that they are given a permanent visa so they can get on with their lives.
Neil Para says he aims to tally up 1,000 kilometres of walking and reach Sydney by early September. Source: Supplied / Peter Kervarec
“The other difficulty is when the children turn 17, they probably won’t be allowed to continue further study because of the regulations.”
“The uncertainty is just no good for people’s mental health. They can contribute – and are contributing – to society. They’ve suffered long enough,” she said.