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Australia Cystic fibrosis is the reason for denial of teen's re-entry visa by Australian Government, family says

08:30  26 february  2020
08:30  26 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Irish family ' s residency in Australia has been refused after their son' s cystic fibrosis was considered a 'burden'.

a person posing for the camera: 19-year-old Sean Colgan has spent nine months away from his girlfriend (pictured), father and sister. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC NEWS 19-year-old Sean Colgan has spent nine months away from his girlfriend (pictured), father and sister. (Supplied)

A young Irish man with cystic fibrosis who calls Western Australia home has been denied entry back into the country because the cost of his medication is too high, his family has said.

Sean Colgan is from Ireland but has lived in Bunbury since he was 11 years old on his father's working visa.

His latest visa application was rejected, meaning he has spent the last nine months in Ireland away from his father, sister, and girlfriend.

In documents cited by the ABC, the Department of Home Affairs confirmed Mr Colgan did not meet the health requirement.

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AN IRISH FAMILY , who was facing deportation in Australia because their three-year-old Anthony and Christine Hyde’ s son Daragh was born in 2015 and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis . The application was refused because of Daragh’ s condition, which the Australian government said did

"Sean Colgan has been evaluated by a medical officer of the Commonwealth and has been assessed as not meeting the health requirement for the grant of eVisitor visa," the document stated.

Mr Colgan is appealing the decision and said he just wanted to come home from Ireland to Australia.

"I think the hardest thing about this is being split up from my family," he said.

"It's inhumane to split up a family due to medical reasons.

"I don't feel comfortable in my own skin here [in Ireland]. I don't know anyone, I have no friends, it's hard."

Keith Colgan said Sean being © ABC News Keith Colgan said Sean being "assessed as not meeting the health requirement" was likely due to the cost of treating cystic fibrosis.

Health costs too high

Cystic fibrosis is a condition that causes mucus to build up on the lungs and in the digestive system.

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Under Australian immigration law, visa applicants can be rejected if their health care costs are deemed too high, or if their condition is likely to prevent Australian citizens from accessing health care.

The law does not take into account that Mr Colgan would not be eligible for public health support and would have to pay for the potentially life-saving drug he uses, Orkambi.

He already relies on a supply of Orkambi he has from a trial.

His father, Keith Colgan, said the visa denial was likely due to the cost of treating people with cystic fibrosis which was now higher in Australia after Orkambi was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

"On my first initial 457 [visa] they never bought up Sean's health costs," he said.

"Orkambi, the drug, didn't exist back when Sean originally came in."

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs said a health condition such as cystic fibrosis would not in itself result in a failure to meet the health requirement.

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This reason for rejection reads that “you have not provided proof of sufficient means of subsistence, for the duration of the intended stay or for the return to the country of origin or We suspect that the purpose and justification of visiting the conference and your travel history could have been the reason .

However, he said most visas required applicants to meet the health requirement which is not condition-specific and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Colgan has lived in Bunbury since he was 11 years old on his father's working visa. © ABC News Mr Colgan has lived in Bunbury since he was 11 years old on his father's working visa.

Deal needed with Ireland

Orkambi was listed on the Australian PBS last year.

In 2018-19, the Federal Government spent more than $100 million on the drug with 876 patients claiming it on the PBS.

While the $200,000-a-year drug is still not available in all countries, in Ireland it is subsidised by its government.

Cystic Fibrosis Australia said countries that had the drug readily available should be talking to each other and coming up with an agreement for their citizens.

"It's pretty pitiful really," said Cystic Fibrosis Australia CEO Nettie Burke.

"The fact is, that young boy has spent a number of years in Australia and we think that he should have access to what we have in Australia because in Ireland he could get those drugs."

She said it was not the first time she had seen this situation.

"We don't understand why there isn't a reciprocal agreement between Ireland and Australia that allows people to access drugs — whether they're in Australia and they're Irish, or they're in Ireland and they're Australian," Ms Burke said.

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Federal Government to allow Mr Colgan to return to Australia.

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