In the Media

Blind musician David Lee granted permanent residency after facing deportation

ABC – Chris McLoughlin

A blind Malaysian musician who has made his home in Adelaide will be allowed to stay in Australia after coming close to being deported.

David Lee, 34, was expecting to be deported despite appealing for assistance from the Federal Government, but has now been granted permanent residency.

Mr Lee said he directly appealed to the Immigration Minister for a residency visa after other avenues had been exhausted and failed to sway the Federal Government.

The Government previously said it was not in the public interest for it to intervene on his behalf.

South Australian Dignity Party MP Kelly Vincent said people like Mr Lee were at the mercy of uncaring government departments, which considered his blindness as a potential cost to Australian society.

She said his permanent residency was a big relief after a period of worry, which could have been avoided with better immigration policies for people with disabilities.

“This really is a black and white blanket rule that really isn’t working for anyone,” Ms Vincent said.

“The people of the Australian community [will] benefit from having these people in the community in the same way that we’ve benefited from having Mr Lee in our community for the past 10 years.”

Government must act on migration policy: Vincent

Mr Lee arrived in Australia in 2007 and studied music at the University of Adelaide.

He earns enough money to support himself and said he had never needed a handout from any government department.

Mr Lee said the change of heart was a relief.

“I want to acknowledge all the general public and I want to thank the 14,000-odd people who helped put this petition up on and I want to thank all the other parties involved … and I want to thank the Government,” Mr Lee said.

Ms Vincent said the Federal Government should act on a finding by a Senate committee in 2010 that current migration policies for disabled people were unfair.

“And while this is a great decision it still doesn’t fix the fact that Federal Parliament still needs to follow its own recommendation from back in 2010, so seven years ago, which said explicitly the migration act needs to be amended so people can’t be deported purely on the basis of disability,” she said.