Ms GARRETT (Brunswick) — I congratulate the Deputy Speaker. It is with great pleasure that I rise to acknowledge the strength and character of the staff and students at Brunswick Secondary College, the Brunswick community and one of our most loved sons, Gary Mao. Gary, who is now 16, has been living in Australia since he was 10, growing up in Brunswick with many friends. He loves footy and his school.
In very difficult circumstances, Gary’s family and visa situation led in May last year to him facing deportation to China, as well as a period in detention. Despairing at the situation, the school community rallied together to make sure Gary was supported, and it sought to ensure that he was able to complete his education in Australia.
We banded together to fight for Gary to stay and to organise to look after and shelter him when his mother was deported back to China. With departmental processes looking grim, impassioned pleas were made to the then ministers for immigration, Ministers O’Connor and Burke, with the latter acknowledging the merits of the case and allowing a visa for Gary to stay to finish his Victorian certificate of education.
However, as was reported in the Age earlier this year the incoming minister advised Gary that he would be deported to China. The school once again had to swing into action. Gratefully that was taken heed of and the minister allowed Gary to stay in Australia. I thank the school community and all those who assisted.