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Refugee Neil Para and family granted permanent visas after 1,000km walk from Ballarat to Sydney

Media release

Sri Lankan refugee Neil Para and his family have been granted permanent visas coinciding with completion of his marathon 1014-kilometre walk from Ballarat to Sydney at the weekend.

The inspirational trek through two states put the issue of 10,000 refugees living in limbo without permanent visas firmly on the Australian agenda.

Immigration Lawyer Carina Ford announced that Neil and his family had been granted permanent visas from Australian Immigration Minister Andrew Giles.

Neil completed his walk out of compassion for his friends. The walk began on August 1 and went through 30 Victorian towns and 42 towns/cities in NSW.

An emotional Neil Para said today: “I am glad and grateful. My family feels humbled. We hope all will be free one day. We promise that we will contribute to Australia. Refugees have a lot to give.

“We look forward to working not walking. My kids can follow their dreams.”

Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) Ballarat convenor Margaret O’Donnell said: “RAR and the family’s other supporters from Ballarat are overjoyed that finally after more than a decade, they have permanent visas and can get on with their lives.”

The walk was a mammoth effort of coordination led by Melbourne Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and supported by Rural Australians for Refugees groups in both states and other refugee support groups including People Just Like Us. Everywhere Neil went people welcomed him, communities supported him and supporters and refugees travelled to walk with him.

When embarking on the walk, a petition seeking permanent visas had amassed about 11,000 signatures. The online and hard copy petition, which closes on Monday, is approaching 20,000.

Neil fled war-torn Sri Lanka and arrived in Australia in August 2012 seeking asylum, with his pregnant wife Sugaa and daughters Nivash and Kartie. Their third daughter Nive was born in Australia. The family was in Sydney to walk the final 6km with Neil.


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  1. Harry Lime

    The Labor government,by granting this visa at the last minute,have cynically avoided a stink,or ,so they hope.Now for the other 10,000 or so in similar straits,which in coming years of climate catastrophe,will be as a drop in the ocean.If Labor hasn’t got the stomach to tackle these and other problems urgently and directly,the people will rightfully downgrade them at the next election.Too timid,little vision, and far too many mediocre ‘lifers’..morning Richard ,Chris etc.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Lovely news and showing how a fight for some justice can win. Could P Duckwit-Futton be sent away as balance? He could sit near A Joyce for part of the flight, and discuss larceny, donor driven success, bought outcomes, financial results?

  3. New England Cocky

    It is now time for the Albanese LABOR government to meet our international commitment to legal refugees by granting permanent visas, re-settling, educating, granting work permits, health cover and education for their kids. This inhumane policy MUST BE CANCELLED!!

  4. leefe

    So that’s all every refugee needs to do to get the schemozzle sorted – just a 1,000km toddle up the highway?
    FMD, can’t the government and the bureaucracy get their fingers out and just give them all permanent visas? They’re refugees! They need safe homes! It’s not like any of them are Peter Dutton or Tony Abbott or …

  5. Roswell

    A bit like a government PR exercise isn’t it, leefe?

    Nonetheless, I’m pleased this bloke and his family were granted permanent visas.

    But like you said; now for the rest.

  6. wam

    Yes, it is tragic that a man should have to wait so long for a visa after being so traumatised by war that he leaves his wife, pregnant with his first child, in the danger and flees to Malaysia.
    Only 20k to go???

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