Girl, 6, who faced deportation due to mystery illness given permanent residency

After an agonising wait, the Tippett family now has reason to smile. From left to right Charley, Sienna, Kai, Hayley and ...
After an agonising wait, the Tippett family now has reason to smile. From left to right Charley, Sienna, Kai, Hayley and Abbi Tippett.  Photo: Natalie Grono

The British family of a six-year-old girl who faced deportation last year due to a mystery illness are celebrating after being told their little one has been granted permanent residency.

Parents Kai and Hayley Tippett, of Lennox Head, NSW, received the good news about their daughter, Sienna's, visa from The Department of Immigration and Border Protection last week - and they can't wipe the smiles from their faces.

"To be honest I think I'm still in shock," her father, Kai Tippet, tells Essential Kids. "But I can truly say it's the best feeling ever, to know we can finally start to live our dream in Australia.

"We are all permanent residents," he says. "The perfect outcome."

The news comes after an agonising wait for the family who first applied for permanent residency in April 2016. While Mr Tippett and his wife, Hayley, along with their two children Charley, 16, and Abbi, 13, were all granted visas, a Commonwealth-appointed doctor deemed Sienna "a burden to the Australian community" and denied her application.

"One fail, we all fail," Mr Tippett said at the time.

The Tippets, however, strongly disputed that their daughter was a "burden", arguing that Sienna, whose as-yet unnamed medical issue only affects her balance and her speech, cost no more than their two teenagers.

The youngster, who had undergone extensive medical testing including MRIs, a lumbar puncture and a muscle biopsy to determine the cause of her symptoms, was enrolled in a support unit within a mainstream school as her cognitive ability is unaffected by the mystery illness. In addition, the Tippetts were not receiving a pension as they were over the asset threshold.

The family launched their #TeamSienna campaign, which attracted worldwide attention, hoping to have the decision overturned.

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Now, 10 months on, the Tippetts are thrilled they can remain in Australia, a place they've called home since Sienna was 10 months old.  For Sienna, who uses Auslan, (Australian sign language), a move back to the UK would have rendered her unable to communicate until she learnt a new sign language.

 "[Sienna's] balance is improving," Mr Tippett says of his daughter's current health "and she is very vocal at the moment ... She has been through so much and I think it's time to just enjoy life and see what the future holds."

For now, as the news sinks in, the Tippetts are full of gratitude. "I would like to thank everybody that has supported us through this whole journey," Mr Tippett says. "You truly are amazing kind-hearted people."

Along with the 30,000 people who signed their change.org petition, Mr Tippett adds, "Of course I would like to give a big thank you to Mr Dutton for giving us this chance to live in Australia."

Although his family are celebrating, Mr Tippet acknowledges the many others currently facing similar circumstances. And he has a message for them, too:  "For all the families going through the same thing we have just been though, don't give up it's a long stressful journey but follow your heart and stay strong,  don't let it beat you. Happy endings truly do happen -  and I hope our case gives you all a glimmer of hope."

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