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Filipino Doctor And Family In Australia Faces Difficulty As They Are Forced To Return To The Philippines

A POPULAR Filipino doctor and his family are again facing an emotional wait to learn if they can keep calling Seaford Meadows home.

Edwin Lapidario, who has been based at the Hackham Medical Centre since June 2008, his wife, Cherryl, and their sons Sean, 11, and Savion, 8, have for the past four years been living in Australia on a temporary 457 visa.

The visa expired on April 1, and the family was granted a bridging visa, which allows them to stay until the Immigration Department decides on its request for permanent residency.

“I really want to stay,” Dr Lapidario, of Seaford Meadows, said.

“I feel home here, my kids feel home here in Australia.

“We will not stop fighting to stay here because I think this will be our home.”

In 2012, the Southern Times Messenger reported the Immigration Department had granted a temporary visa to Cherryl and Savion but refused Sean’s request because he has autism.

“They granted the visa for the two of them but for my other son, they denied because ... he will be a burden to the Australian community,” Dr Lapidario said.

The story prompted an outpouring of emotion from the southern community, with hundreds of people writing messages of support.

Directors at the Hackham Medical Centre agreed at the time to pay the estimated $52,000 in medical costs for Sean, to keep one of the clinic’s most loved doctors in the south. Dr Lapidario had previously won a two-year battle, in 2010, to reunite his family in Australia.

He said the teachers at Christie Downs Primary School were happy with Sean’s progress over the past four years. Mrs Lapidario said Sean was non-verbal until age 8, but now, thanks to the help he had received at school, he talks and reads.

“When he comes home or when he goes to school ... you can see that he is happy,” Mrs Lapidario said.

She said being forced to return to the Philippines would be difficult because Sean would not get the help he so desperately needed.

Rob Pattinson, a friend of the Lapidarios who six years ago started a petition to keep the family in Australia, said they deserved to call Australia home permanently.

“I find it very difficult to understand why we would turn away a boy whose father is servicing the community,” Mr Pattinson said.

“I just feel that it’s not in the Australian spirit of looking after one another.”

An Immigration Department spokeswoman said Australian migration laws required applicants to meet certain health requirements.

She said these requirements determined whether the care would result in “significant costs” to the community, and a visa could not be granted if an applicant failed to meet health requirements and where a health waiver was not available.

The family could wait up to nine months to learn its fate.


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