Dear valued subscribers,
This week's outpouring of support for a Warrnambool family to avoid deportation to Singapore has been overwhelming.
Raj Manikam, his wife Premawathy Balasupramariam and their children Vanisre, 18, and Vela, 8, have captured the hearts of the south-west and beyond after it was revealed Mr Manikam's application for permanent residency was rejected on medical grounds.
That means the family can be deported later this month.
But Vanisre, a school captain at Brauer College, who dreams of becoming a doctor, started an online petition that has attracted more than 40,000 signatures.
Mr Manikam, who works in aged care and his wife, who works at Warrnambool's Florence Collins childcare centre, are regarded as hard workers and contribute to the community. Vanisre is a driven, inspiring student, who dreams of repaying her adopted country in spades as a doctor.
The family's standing in the community and value to the country cannot be disputed.
The crux of the matter is Mr Manikam's kidney disease. The impact of any treatment on Australia's public health system is the reason his application was rejected.
The federal government's rules are clear. A person seeking permanent residency must undergo a health check to ensure Australian citizens and permanent residents can access health and community services that are in short supply.
A candidate must be free from a disease or condition that will have a "significant healthcare and community service cost to the Australian community".
But Mr Manikam has vowed to not seek a kidney transplant or be treated at a cost to taxpayers.
Mr Manikam's legally-binding commitment should end the argument there.
The support from south-west Victorians and fellow Australians shows our compassion for others. What's needed now is for Mr Coleman and his department to do the same and make the right decision. Let them stay.
Last week we featured Warrnambool export Andrew Atkinson, who has written a book detailing aspects of his 26-year career with Victoria Police. Subscribers can access the second episode in our podcast series here. Feedback about his book has been positive, so we are giving you a chance to win a free copy of Copper! A Life in Law Enforcement.
To go into the draw to win one of two copies, please reply to this email and include your name and best contact phone number.
Winners will be announced next week.
Photo of the week: Photo-journalist Anthony Brady captured the pic above of Dusty at Warrnambool's RSPCA this week during a story about a new foster care program for pets.
Here's a selection of other stories that made headlines this week.
Until next week,