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Murray Bridge couple ordered to leave Australia as petition falls on deaf ears
Keli and Mere Ravula will have to return to Fiji, despite what they fear they will face when they get there.
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A much-loved Murray Bridge couple have been given their marching orders by the Department of Immigration after their final appeal to stay in Australia was rejected.
Mere and Keli Ravula have lived locally for a decade, working on farms and contributing much to the community through their church membership and volunteer service.
As Murray Bridge News reported in May, they came to Australia after fleeing their home country, Fiji, in 2011, fearing for their safety in the wake of a military coup.
But the Australian government rejected their claim to asylum and – last week – their final appeal to Immigration Minister Andrew Giles was rejected.
More than 350 locals had signed a petition begging Mr Giles to let the Ravulas stay in Australia, and more than 30 wrote letters appealing to the minister personally.
However, they never reached his desk.
The Ravulas were told their appeal had been rejected by a staff member.
“At the first day (after the decision), my heart was just breaking,” Mrs Ravula said.
“We couldn’t believe it.
“We were just crying.”
In the days since, they have begun preparing to return to the Fijian village where their son and his family still remain, and where they will need to find a house and jobs.
They planned to keep a low profile once they got there.
Mr Ravula feared retribution over his past opposition to the government which was still in power.
But, eyes rimmed with red, he vowed to meet that fear head-on.
“I’ll face the consequences what will happen to me in Fiji,” he said.
“I’ll face it – I’ll have to.
“I can’t do anything about it.”
The couple will have to leave Australia by September 25, the day after Mrs Ravula’s birthday.
In the meantime, they have had their work rights revoked, so they will not be able to earn an income during their remaining weeks here.
Murray Bridge Uniting Church member Faye Menadue announced the sad news to the Ravulas’ congregation on Sunday.
She invited locals to support the couple in whatever way they could while they were still here, “whether it be in money or food ... even in prayers”.
“This is a hard time for us all,” she said.
“I invite you all to be there for (the Ravulas) in these last days.”
Donate to the Ravulas: Contact Murray Bridge Uniting Church on 8532 5150.
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