LONG WAIT: 95 year-old Joan Cox who has been waiting for Australian Immigration to accept her British son's visa application to become her full-time carer. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
LONG WAIT: 95 year-old Joan Cox who has been waiting for Australian Immigration to accept her British son's visa application to become her full-time carer. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

No sign of visa to care for blind 95-year-old mother

A LITTLE bit of compassion and priority is what Graham Cowen is asking for in order to receive a carer's visa to look after his blind mother before it's too late.


Mr Cowen lives in England and after visiting his elderly mother and stepfather in 2012, he realised he needed to move across to the other side of the world to support them.


Joan Cox, 95, lost her vision 20 years ago because of detached retinas and just weeks ago lost her husband to cancer.


When his stepfather, Alfred, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Mr Cowen applied for a carer's visa to live in Australia to help his parents.


"I visited my mum and stepfather two years ago and found that his health was deteriorating," Mr Cowen said.


"As he was the primary carer for my mother Joan, I made an application for a carer's visa for me and my wife Barbara in order to immigrate to Australia, so we could care for them both, with my wife being the primary carer while I went out to work," he said.


Mr Cowen said now it was now a high priority to move after his Alf's death.


"As he was the sole carer for my mother who is blind, this leaves her without a live-in carer unless she can find the money to pay for one, which in the long term she cannot."


In May 2013, Mr Cowen's application was transferred to an Other Family visa and in September 2013 he was notified his his application met the core criteria and was placed in a queue.


He wrote to the Immigration Department on April 2 pleading to be granted a visa to care for his mother.
He has had no reply to this request.


Mr Cowen's sister, Judith Allen, lives in Bundaberg but because she works full-time and has a fractured vertebrae, she can not give their mother the care she needs.


"I live in a two-storey home and with her being total blind it is not an option for her to live with me," Ms Allen said.


"Mum is all there in her mind," she said.


"She is old and frail but fully cognitive.


"She wants to stay in her own home but can't live there alone because she can't see.


"It's really distressing to her to know she needs to rely on us because if she could see she would be fine on her own."


An Immigration Department spokesman yesterday said demand for the Carer visa outstripped availability, and the Other Family visa category was capped at 500 grants for 2014-15.


 "A capping and queuing system is in place to manage the demand for the limited number of visas available. Once the cap has been reached in a financial year, no further grants are possible until a future financial year," the spokesman said.


Based on current planning, the approximate wait time for a Carer visa is four-and-a-half years.


Due to the compassionate and compelling nature of Carer visa applications the department said there was no provision to prioritise applications  because they were processed in date lodgement order to ensure applicants, who may be in similar circumstances, were not disadvantaged.


The spokesman said Mr Cowen may want to consider applying for a temporary visa in order to enter Australia provided he met the criteria.



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