Sean – Mum’s Visa

The Calvary staff in Hobart are pretty remarkable people, but as the Pastoral Care manager, I often have front row seat in seeing in particular how amazing the Pastoral Care practitioners are!  They consistently go above and beyond in the spirit of Mary Potter, working hard to care for the vulnerable in our community.  They uphold the dignity of every person, making a difference in the lives of our staff, patients and their families.

In our rehabilitation ward, we have a lovely young man from China who is an international student at our local uni.  He was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident and is now 6 weeks into his 10 week hospital rehab journey.  His Mum and Dad flew over from China after his accident to be with him. They don’t speak a word of English between them, but the Pastoral Care team have been supporting their son and developing a friendly non-verbal relationship with them as well.  After a little while Dad had to return to China to his job, however, Mum stayed to continue caring for her son.  Here comes the sticky part.  Unfortunately her tourist visa is due to expire the day of her son’s follow up surgery next month, but he is going to need ongoing care for a couple of months after that.  She requested an extension to her tourist visa, but it was denied.  This family desperately want her to stay, but Mum can’t communicate in English and her son isn’t able to do much from his hospital bed to take on the visa issue.  They felt stuck and hopeless.

After hearing this story, the team jumped into action.  Our rehab specialist wrote a letter explaining the severity of the situation and the need for Mum to stay in Australia for longer.  Peter, one of our exceptional Pastoral Carers offered to take Mum with this letter to the immigration department to plead her case with them.  As Peter and Mum were driving out of the car park, Mum gestured wildly that she had forgotten her phone in the hospital.  Peter stopped the car and waited patiently as she shuffled up and returned with her phone triumphantly in her hand.  As they drove through town to the immigration office, Mum was tapping away on her phone.  After a moment, she held it up to Peter’s ear who listened as the “Google translate” app said to him “People here are so kind!”

After arriving and being reprimanded for not having an appointment, the security staff ushered Peter and Mum to a desk with a phone on it.  Calling the number on the phone, Peter pleaded the case to the person on the other end, and then their manager, who suggested that finding a migration agent to assist them would be the best plan.

Back at Calvary, Peter searched the yellow pages and was able to locate a Chinese migration agent in Hobart.  Ron, another of our remarkable Pastoral Care practitioners, then explained the situation to the agent and convinced her to take their case.  After a thorough communication with our patient and Mum, Ron was able to gain their consent to assemble all the paperwork and send it through to the migration agent.

Happily, Mum is now speaking fluently to the agent in her native tongue and thanks to the barriers being overcome, they are organising a new visa so that she can stay and care for her beloved son after his surgery.

Wouldn’t Mary Potter be so chuffed by the kindness extended to a vulnerable family, just as she did in her own ministry?  I’m sure she would be so proud that those in the greater company of Mary today are indeed “so kind”!


Sean Conry

Pastoral Care Manager, Hobart