Childcare workers, aged-care nurses and residents who know and love Queanbeyan's Wangchuk family joined a rally outside Parliament House on Friday to protest the family's threatened deportation and condemn immigration laws which treated people with disabilities as a "burden" on society.
Chanting "say it loud and say it clear, Kinley's family's welcome here" and "immigrants are welcome, racists are not", the rally called on Immigration Minister David Coleman to use his ministerial discretion to allow the Bhutanese family to stay in Australia.
The family's visa is due to expire next week after their application for permanent residency was rejected because their son Kinley, who is deaf, did not meet the health requirements set out by immigration laws.
The requirement assesses whether someone's condition is likely to result in "significant costs to the Australian community or prejudice the access of Australian citizens and permanent residents to services in short supply".
The Wangchuk family, who have lived in Australia since 2012, will be deported back to Bhutan without intervention by the minister. A petition calling for them to stay in Australia has been signed by more than 30,000 people.
Supporters of the family have argued that Kinley's parents Jangchu and Tshering have been productive, tax-paying members of society and worked hard to ensure a better life in Australia for Kinley, 18, and their other son Tenzin, 17.
Jangchu's colleagues at the Nipperville Early Learning Centre in Watson, where she is a childcare worker in the babies' room, were among those at Friday's rally.
Workmate Cassandra Rijven said Jangchu had the support of both the childcare centre's staff and families.
"She's such a fantastic educator and it would be such a huge loss to our centre if she had to go back to Bhutan," Ms Rijven said.
"She's highly valued throughout the centre, not just in the room she works in. And so many of our families have shown their support by signing the petition.
"I think we all feel sad and disgusted. Apart from Jangchu being our work colleague and friend, it's horrible, heartbreaking that they would even consider sending them home."
Kinley's dad Tshering, who is an aged-care worker at the Jindalee Aged Care Residence in Narrabundah as well as a cleaner in ACT schools, was also supported by fellow Jindalee workers at the rally. A nurse on her day off took elderly residents to the rally because they wanted to be there for the family.
Jindalee director Jo Costuna-Temple and deputy director Chris Lemon also supported the rally and the efforts to keep the family in Australia.
"Tshering is a reliable, committed, solid worker and he's loved by the residents," Mrs Lemon said.
"It just breaks our heart that we may lose such a great worker and a lovely man all because his son can't hear properly."
Pema Choden, an organiser for United Voice, the union for cleaners, aged care workers and child care workers, is also from Bhutan. She addressed the rally by saying Kinley was an intelligent, sociable, capable person who could contribute to society into the future.
"Come on Australia. You are a rich, a big and generous country. You can at least give this small family a chance to lead a better life," Mrs Choden said.
National Union of Students disabilities officer Will Edwards urged the rally to bombard Mr Coleman's office with phone calls to demand the immigration law dealing with people with disabilities be changed.
"We have a law that if you're going to cost a little bit more than what the government would like, you're not worthy of living in this country," Mr Edwards said.
"People with disabilities are viewed as burdens by our immigration laws."
Both Mr Coleman and the office of ipposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann have declined to comment on the Wangchuks' specific case. Mr Neumann's office on Friday did, however, support the immigration law as it stood.
Kinley and his brother Tenzin are both in year 11 at Queanbeyan High. Tenzin's girlfriend and classmate Sharolyn Curtis, 16, said both students were much-loved at the school. Aside from taking part in his classes, Kinley was also the library monitor and played cards with students at recess.
"He puts a smile on everyone's face," former classmate Lacey Bayliss, 16, said.