I would like to take this opportunity to share some light into the problems that International Medical Graduates sometimes face in Australia. IMG’s sacrifice a lot to leave their home countries and relocate to a foreign land. They provide essential healthcare to a lot of underserved areas in Australia. Although Dr Sofocado and his family have now been granted permanent residency, he is still crusading for changes to Australian migration laws to give the chance to a lot of doctors who have wholeheartedly served otherwise underserved areas of Australia.
I am including the email of Dr Cesar Sofocado to the current ADTOA chair, Dr Viney Joshi to illustrate his plight (With explicit permission from Dr Sofocado) and to get support for his crusade.
From: Cesar Sofocado <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Mon, 25 April, 2011 11:28:40 PM
Subject: May I ask for a Letter of Support or Any Assistance to my Family’s Request to the Hon Immigration Minister Chris Bowen for Humanitarian Consideration and Compassion for my Terminally ill Wife?
Re: Compassion to the family of Dr. Cesar Sofocado, whose wife Mary is terminally ill with secondary breast cancer (advanced)
Approval of the family’s permanent residency visa application based On Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds
Divorce sick wife, doctor told
Dear Dr Viney Joshi,
Good morning Dr Viney Joshi!
First, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my family’s experience, especially of my wife, concerning BREAST CANCER which spread to her BRAIN and Lungs! We know that you are very busy and we really appreciate for giving a little of your precious time and attention to our humble request. I am an Overseas Trained Doctor ( Philippines ) – GP, working and providing medical services to the rural and remote areas of Western Australia , for almost six years now.
May I ask your help for a Letter of Support or Any Assistance to my Family’s request to the Hon Immigration Minister Chris Bowen for Humanitarian Consideration and Compassion for my terminally ill wife?
In 2005, my family arrived in Perth on Temporary Visa (Subclass 422, Medical Doctor) upon satisfying all conditions including health requirements. I served as Hospital Medical Officer in regional towns of Geraldton ( Geraldton Regional Hospital , WA ), and as a General Practitioner at Karratha (Karratha Medical Centre), Dampier (Dampier Medical Centre), and Dalyellup-Bunbury (Wishing Well Medical Clinic). Currently, I’m a GP here in Ellenbrook Medical Centre.
When my wife Mary was still healthy, she studied in TAFE-WA Central West Geraldton and TAFE-WA Pilbara. She worked in Early Learning Centre and Crèche, caring for babies and children.
In 2008, we applied for Independent Skilled Migrant Visa (Subclass 175) hoping to acquire permanent residency. Unfortunately, while in waiting for almost two years from DIAC’s (Dept of Immigration And Citizenship) response, Mary got suddenly ill and unexpectedly developed breast cancer which spread to her brain. She had undergone three major operations due to a malignant breast cancer and a brain tumour here in WA. She was also further diagnosed with lung cancer (which actually “missed” by her specialist) and was advised to undergo another Lung operation and radiation and chemotherapy.
As my wife’s health deteriorates her dream of our family’s residing permanently in Australia becomes blurred and dim. Although DIAC has full knowledge of Mary’s condition we were still advice to apply for W.A State Sponsorship Skilled Sponsored (Migrant) Visa (Subclass176). This application was later supported by Hon. Judi Moylan, MP and Hon. Frank Alban, MLA.
My family, especially my dying wife is not asking much from the Australian government. We just want a little recognition of my family’s contribution (thru me and my wife’s work and active participation in the church and community) to the rural & remote areas of WA, and humanitarian consideration and compassion to my terminally ill wife (41 y/o). It’s not my wife’s fault to have this advanced breast cancer! Nobody wants to have cancer! But this was the reason the DIAC is keep on pounding on my family’s minds (my wife, my two young daughters, and me)! And the Immigration Case Officer is using this Breast Cancer of my wife to reject our permanent residency visa, as a “gift” for our almost 6 years of service here in WA.
Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, said in one of her speeches: “Every one of us is connected by it and to it in some way (breast cancer). Unlike you, I have not suffered frombreast cancer, but I have observed again and again its force and its devastation, something of what it means to be a woman – her family, our community”. Her Excellency emphasized that: “Women living with breast cancer are the inspiration! They fight their individual battles, quietly, patiently, but with the utmost determination and courage and the support of their families and friends. May their voices continue to be heard!”
As you can see Dr Viney Joshi, our case is unique in the sense that there is some form of “urgency” on the basis of my wife’s terminal illness. Unlike other visa applications refused due to medical conditions, wherein the applicants had the luxury of time and resources to wait the long process of appealing to the Migration Review Tribunal, because of Mary’s terminal cancer, we don’t have that time and much resource.
Another issue that I want the well-respected Dr Viney Joshi to be aware of, were the mistakes (which the immigration called as “miscommunications”) made by the Case Officers handling our application. I’m looking on another angle wherein the Immigration Case Officer 1 ( Ala– ) made a mistake of giving me an option of Visa 176 State Sponsorship. Because I trusted the Case Officer 1 ( Ala– ) of the Dept of Immigration and Citizenship and I believed that she’s ( Ala– ) an expert on her field, I followed her advice and applied for the Visa 176. I was granted the Western Australia State Sponsorship, and we’re told to proceed with our medical requirements by the new Case Officer 2 (And–). I am not aware that the Visa 176 advised to me by the Case Officer 1 ( Ala– ) has “no health waiver”, meaning we cannot appeal. I am not an expert in Immigration law. Case Officers of the Immigration of Australia are highly regarded as an expert with immigration rules and, they have the “power” to accept or reject the applicants. From the very beginning, our Case Officer 1 ( Ala– ) was aware of my wife’s medical condition. And now we’ve done everything, the new Case Officer (And–) handling our applications told me already that he’s (And–) going to reject our permanent residency visa application because of my wife’s medical condition and we cannot appeal for that because the Visa 176 we applied has “no health waiver!” Accordingly, the Case Officer 2 (DIAC) will approve only our Permanent Residency visa if my wife is already DEAD! Or if we are DIVORCED! Or if we are LEGALLY SEPARATED!
In my humble opinion, the Case Officer 1 ( Ala– ) gave us a “wrong information” and “misled” me and my family to apply for VISA 176 with no health waiver. This “miscommunication” (as called by the Immigration) will result to the rejection of our application according to Case Officer 2 (And–), with NO chance to appeal! This “miscommunications” made by DIAC’s own Case Officer “buried my family’s future” deeper into the ground. We are already down and injured because of the impact of Stage 4 advanced breast cancer to my wife and family! And this rejection will be no less than a Death sentence to my terminally ill wife, and my family! We feel that our already devastated family, especially my beloved wife, and after our share of work and contribution to the “Areas of Need” of Western Australia , is being treated unjustly and unfairly!
Our beloved Dr Viney Joshi my wife, my two young daughters and me, are down on our knees, begging and humbly pleading for your support and assistance in regards to our appeal with the Immigration Minister. Please, do help us! Thank you so much.
SOFOCADO FAMILY (Dr Cesar, Mary, Sofia, Kyla)
Home Address: 18 Heathland Terrace,
Ellenbrook WA 6069
H: 08 92973914
Our heartfelt thanks to the supports and pledges of the following:
“Dr Sofocado has provided so much to our society over the last few years- I believe it is only fair and just that he and his family are supported through this incredibly difficult time. They should not have to spend what little time may be remaining on fighting! Please let them live this time together, in peace.”
BA (Hons) Psychology, MAPS
“Mary (Stella) has shown to be an exceptionally talented child care assistant who always strives for best practice. Mary (Stella) is a very approachable, friendly and creative person and she has a genuine interest in the care and education of young children”
Pilbara TAFE Creche
“Due to the fact that his wife is terminally ill with breast and brain cancer, I would urge to consider Dr Sofocado’s plea for a permanent visa on compassionate grounds. I believe we owe this much to Dr Sofocado as the community of Western Australia had benefited from his medical services.”
Dr Alan Eggleston
Senator for Western Australia
“On both compassionate and practical grounds, I believe the Doctor and his family demonstrate a solid case for support and would ask that you carefully review the full merits of this case before you.”
Maria Vamvakinou MP
Federal Member for Calwell
“On compassionate grounds it would be clearly create a greater upheaval and cause further trauma to this family under the circumstance to have to leave the country with their two young children, From a practical point of view it would be tragic loss of a doctor who is now established in an area of increasing need.”
Judi Moylan MP
Member for Pearce
“Dr Sofocado and his wife have contributed actively to their communities. I believe that this family would be model citizens.”
Frank Alban MLA
Member for Swan Hills
“I am seeking compassionate consideration to grant the permanent visa application of Dr Cesar for the welfare of the whole family and especially for their two daughters. These children have grown with an Australian identity having experienced the Australian way of life in their early childhood years.”
Most Rev. Justin Bianchini, DD: Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Geraldton
Fr Maurizio Pettena CS: National Director, Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, Australian Catholic Bishop Conference
Fr Gerard Totanes: St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Geraldton
Fr Steven Casey: Parish Priest, Karratha/ Dampier WA
“I ask for your fresh consideration on the matter as a point of urgency in the light of humanitarian and compassionate grounds with what the family has been and continue to go through, but also from the point of view of what this family can continue to add to our communities if allowed to stay.”
Graham R Fabian
Sun City Christian Centre Geraldton
“It would be a shame if Mary’s illness results in their application being rejected as it would be very traumatic for the family to leave the country. It would also result in the unnecessary loss of a medical doctor who has been serving the Australian community for over five years, at a time when there is still a shortage of medical practitioners.”
Ramdas Sankaran: Executive Director, Multicultural Services Centre of Western Australia Inc
“Urgently, we are concerned on how to alleviate the plight of the Sofocado family by supporting the visa application already filed at DIAC. Dear Minister, we appeal to your compassion for the family while Mary is still alive. No one can prolong her precious life but your favourable action will surely make her last days less painful. Your act of compassion will be a lasting legacy not only to her two daughters but to all Filipino-Australian families and supporters.”
George Kotsakis: Chairperson, Migrante-Australia
Marino Salinas : President, Filipino Australian Club of Perth
Dante C. Maribbay,CD: President, Damayang Filipino Inc.
Noel Chicote: President, Filipino Australian Sports Association
“To deny the family of permanent residency will be very inhumane as they have served in the caring and wellbeing of fellow Australians and formed strong roots in Australia . It will be devastating enough for the girls to lose their mum at such an early and impressionable age and then to be told that they have to leave the country where they had dreams of building their future.”
Dr Amarjit Singh & Family
“Cesar & Mary has done Australia a very special service and I believe that we should be very grateful for that. Please let Mary spend her remaining days in Australia (which the Sofocado family considered as home) peacefully surrounded by her precious family and her loving friends!
“They’ve spent almost 6 years of their lives here in Australia and no doubt that they’ve embraced the system whole heartedly. The family had started a new home and look forward for a brighter future. We believed that they need a chance to be heard and be helped in whatever deemed possible for humanitarian reason as Mary’s agony should be appeased and serenity should foster for greater good.”
Dr Garry Fajardo & Family
Religious groups/organizations, private and community organizations, Individual patients/families and friends, in WA and other Australian states
- written by an IMG who has firsthand experience
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