Permanent residency at last for Filippino nurse Maria Sevilla and autistic son

Maria Sevilla with her 10-year-old song Tyrone.
Maria Sevilla with her 10-year-old song Tyrone. Photo: Supplied

An autistic Filipino boy and his mother have been granted permanent Australian residency after it was initially denied to them on the basis of his disability.

Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton used his discretion in granting the visa – the final point of appeal in visa cases.

Ten-year-old Tyrone Sevilla's Autism was originally deemed too burdensome on Australia's health care system for him and his mother, Maria, to stay in the country.

Little Ethan Egart was so incensed his 10-year-old friend was to be deported he sent a question in to <i>Q&A</i>.
Little Ethan Egart was so incensed his 10-year-old friend was to be deported he sent a question in to Q&APhoto: ABC

Maria, who studied nursing and has been working as a stroke nurse in Townsville Hospital for eight years told the ABC she was "jumping for joy" after hearing the affirmative news.

The Sevillas endured a "rollercoaster of emotion" during the months of visa. Despite their extended family and support network being Townville-based, they faced a return to the Philippines, where Maria was "...very worried about Tyrone being in a new environment and having to start all over again."

Now, with permanent residency, Maria and Tyrone can live in Australia unconditionally.

Maria Sevilla and Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Molle deliver the petition to federal Health Minister Peter ...
Maria Sevilla and Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Molle deliver the petition to federal Health Minister Peter Dutton's office. Photo: Jorge Branco

The case was brought to Mr Dutton's attention after Tyrone's plucky 10-year-old friend, Ethan Egart, mentioned the issue in an April episode of ABC program 'Q&A'. Then there was a upsurge of public support: a petition calling for permanent residency for the pair garnered 120,000 signatures.

Maria is understandably grateful to Mr Dutton for making the empathic decision and to the lucky country for embracing her and her son. "[He] may never know how much he has changed our lives. Thank you Australia for giving us a fair go." 

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