‘News’ report adds insult to family’s injury
When Vanessa Lalsing went to pick up her children from their Claremont school this week, she was hit by a chill from some mothers who had previously been warm and friendly. “It felt like a cold wave washing over me,” she said. “You could see it in their eyes.” Like hundreds of other people, the mothers had read a false Mauritian newspaper report about her and her Nedlands family’s distress over her dying husband.
“It’s the most disgusting thing imaginable,” a distressed Vanessa Lalsing said, showing a print-out from the Mauritian newspaper’s website.
“It truly added insult to injury.” Vanessa said she did not sleep for nights after the report came out.
The story alleged her husband’s terminal illness, her marriage, and his medical qualifications were lies, invented to win sympathy for the family from Australian immigration authorities.
“The doctor is actually a disc jockey,” one story says of Mrs Lalsing’s husband, Jason, who was once Mauritius’s best-known disc jockey.
The POST has documents showing that each of the damaging statements in the Mauritian newspaper report is untrue.
Vanessa said Jason (36), who has cancer in both lungs, was overjoyed when Immigration Minister Chris Bowen last week used special powers to grant all family members a bridging visa.
It will stay in effect until he dies.
The family was trapped in Australia without an income when Jason was diagnosed with cancer and ordered by his doctors not to fly home to Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the African coast. The family had tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, many paid by Vanessa’s father, and as non-citizens were not entitled to Medicare.
As a result of the POST report, dozens of western suburbs people helped out with donations of food, money and practical aid.
Mr Bowen’s ruling means the family is immediately eligible for Medicare and Centrelink benefits.
“You could see the weight lift off Jason straight away,” Vanessa said.
“He was withdrawing from his family because he felt ashamed that we had to beg for food for his children.”
Doctors immediately noticed a vast improvement in his attitude.
Vanessa said: “He was relieved that when he dies, his children can continue to live in Australia in happiness and security.”
But when news of the family’s plight was published in Mauritius, Jason’s former wife, whom he had married at 16, approached a national newspaper with a series of allegations.
“Jason was crying and I have hardly stopped crying since Saturday,” Vanessa said.
“My children are my most precious things.
“So many good and kind Australian people have done so much for them, and now this.”
The newspaper, L’Express, published a story saying Jason’s terminal illness was invented to fake a residency application.
It also said Jason was not a doctor but a disc jockey, and that the couple were not married.
The POST has documents, marriage and birth certificates, passports and letters from oncologists and State Health Minister Kim Hames showing that each of these assertions is untrue.
The Mauritian community in Perth, which had been helping the family, circulated copies of the false story to school friends of the family, the press, television stations and Radio 6PR, where Howard Sattler had interviewed Vanessa.
The POST received numerous print-outs of the report, sent anonymously in the mail.
A Channel 9 TV crew booked to interview Vanessa about the bridging visa issued did not turn up on Monday after the false story was circulated.
“We wanted to publicly thank the people of WA, the school parents, the church, the POST and the Australian government,” Vanessa said.
“But the TV people have now run a mile.
“Some of the other mothers at the children’s school are avoiding me, or looking at me strangely.
“They have read the story and believed the lies; I can’t blame them because of the way they were presented.
“Australian immigration is famous for the thoroughness of its background checks.
“There is no way they will let one tiny indiscretion get past them; they would just slam the door on us.”
She said one effect of the story was that many Mauritian people would now believe it was easy to get into Australia by spinning a web of lies.
The POST has been in touch with the Mauritian journalist who wrote the report this week, sending some medical, birth, marriage and passport documents, plus a letter from Dr Hames about Jason’s medical qualifications, that prove the L’Express reports were incorrect.
The reporter had not previously seen nor sought them. After they were received, he told the POST: “I’m done with this.”
Source: Cambridge Post