CAROLINE Evarts counts victory in the long battle for permanent residency for her and her mother and brother as a bittersweet one because the battle ended with the death of her father.
The Evarts – Yvonne, 46, Caroline, 21, and Keith, 14 – faced the threat of deportation to their homeland, Sri Lanka, last year, and their fight to stay in Australia sparked a campaign led by Guardian Angels’ Primary School at Ashmore, in Southport parish, where Keith was a student.
Having staved off deportation, the Evarts’ future in Australia remained under a cloud this year with the Immigration Department delaying a decision on permanent residency.
Caroline, speaking on behalf of the family, said they were told early this year they would have to wait a further six months for a decision.
But that all changed with the death of Yvonne’s husband and the children’s father, Graydon, 61, after the Boxing Day Asian tsunami.
Graydon had remained in Sri Lanka with his older son, Geoffrey, 27, because of ill health and, although they were not injured during the tsunami, their house was flooded.
‘My father got sick, and on February 4 he died,’ Caroline said.
‘I had kept the department up to date (on what was happening with Graydon), and when they heard my father had died, they gave us permanent residency.’
That was granted two weeks after Graydon died, and the Evarts received the paperwork earlier this month. It became official on March 11.