teens

For 5 years Anita’s family were told they couldn’t stay in Australia. All because her son has Down syndrome.

Ciaran Lund is much the same as most teenage boys. Except he cooks, he vacuums, he uses the washing machine and he cleans his bedroom.

He's also popular, hilarious and can't wait to get a job when he leaves school.

The 16-year-old also happens to have Down syndrome, and it's for this reason alone that his entire family of five have spent nearly five years thinking they were going to be kicked out of Australia - a place they've called home since 2013.

John and Anita Lund moved to Sydney's northern beaches from the English city of Sheffield on a 457 visa after John landed a job with the New South Wales government on a two-year secondment. 

WATCH: The Lund Family will be appearing on Who Gets To Stay In Australia tonight on SBS. Post continues after video.


Video via SBS.

But after cementing themselves in the community, the Lund family were told they were ineligible to stay here permanently. 

Their application for residency was denied purely because of their son Ciaran.

The Australian government calculated that his future needs would include access to disability and welfare services that would exceed the threshold of $49,000 over 10 years. 

Because Ciaran failed the government's test, the whole family failed. 

For the last four-and-a-half years the Lund family have been fighting that decision, and in 2018 after two failed applications they were given just 35 days to leave Australian soil. 

Anita Lund says moving her three children back to England "just isn't an option." Image: SBS.

As the years have dragged on, it’s been hard to stay positive.

"The pressure of not knowing is unimaginable and the kids are asking questions. Telling the kids and assuring them that everything is going to be just fine gets harder as each day passes," Anita told Mamamia.

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All three kids are enrolled in the local school; 17-year-old Ewan is in the Cadets and 11-year-old Sienna loves to surf. Anita runs her own business which employs more than 20 staff. 

"Life was good," said Anita.

But reality soon became a mixture of "helplessness, numbness and fear for the kids".

"They have lived here for most of their lives. We try to push it to the back of our minds but that’s getting harder every day. Returning to England simply isn’t an option for us, we’re prepared to fight this to the end," she told Mamamia.

As for the government's calculations about Ciaran's future "costs", Anita says they're not true. 

"We understand there has to be rules, however, in our view singling out people with disabilities and making assumptions about what contribution those individuals can make is unrealistic. 

"We don’t understand how the Department can assume Ciaran will have to live in sheltered housing, never hold down a job and basically be a burden on the Australian taxpayer. We find it unbelievable that there is still the stereotype that people with Down's syndrome can’t live a meaningful life like the rest of us." 

The Lund family live on Sydney's northern beaches, but have been told for the last 4.5 years that they can't stay in Australia. Image: SBS.

Anita and the family feel like they've been treated like criminals who are living in this country unlawfully - despite the fact that they pay taxes and invest and contribute to the Australian economy. 

"The whole family including Ciaran's siblings are suffering as a consequence, it’s a terrible situation," she said. 

"It’s unfair to treat Ciaran as a hypothetical person and we feel that the Department is looking at a label rather than a human being."

Since speaking to Mamamia, the Lund family has received the news they've been dreaming of - the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has overturned the decision that has been threatening to send them back to England. 

But as the Lunds look towards permanent residency at last, there are at least 25,000 applications that get rejected by the government every year, according to SBS. 

As the publication questions, it's not clear how many of them are on "health grounds" like the Lund family were told. 

You can see more of The Lunds' story on Who Gets To Stay in Australia tonight at 8.30pm on SBS.

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