A Canberra family whose bid to obtain permanent Australian residency was derailed when the mother, Jacqueline Ingram, was diagnosed with a kidney disease in 2013 has thanked the city for supporting their attempt to stay.
The Ingrams left Sydney for South Africa on Wednesday after repeated attempts to have their case reviewed by the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, were unsuccessful.
Mrs Ingram, her husband Clive, and their two children, Brett and Caitlin, came to Australia from Port Elizabeth on the Cape Coast in 2011.
The couple were employed by LEAD, an ACT-based care provider, in 2013. Mr Ingram, a lawyer in South Africa, worked as a disability support worker. Mrs Ingram, a university lecturer in business management in South Africa, worked as a pre-employment specialist.
"We are returning to South Africa after having no luck with the Department of Immigration regarding our latest ministerial intervention appeal," Mrs Ingram said.
"We are devastated by the lack of compassion shown by the minister in our case as we feel we have made a huge contribution to the Canberra community; especially for people with disabilities."
LEAD's chief executive, Keryl Neville, previously told Fairfax Media Mr Ingram had made it possible for many people who had never worked before to be employed on the organisation's "Recyclery" project, which repairs and then resells old bicycles.
Mrs Ingram had been so successful in identifying employment opportunities for the disabled LEAD had nominated her for the ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Awards.
Committed Christians, the family were actively involved in the community life of Watson on many levels.
This was reciprocated with their employers, members of the church community, ACT politicians and their many friends rallying in support of their bid to stay.
"Many, many people have gone out of their way to try and assist us in getting a positive outcome with the Minister for Immigration," Mrs Ingram said.
"The love that has been shown to us by the community is something we will always remember."
Mrs Ingram said the minister's decision had been particularly devastating for Caitlin.
"Her schooling has been disrupted by this," she said. "Caitlin will have to go back to an education system (in South Africa) that is crumbling under political instability and upheaval.
"Clive and I will have to try and re-establish ourselves in our careers. This will be hard as we have been away for six years."
The couple's son, Brett, who had been on a gap year visit to South Africa when the visas were revoked in 2014, has been stranded there ever since.
Under Immigration and Border Protection's "One fail, all fail" policy all members of the family lost their right to stay once it was determined Mrs Ingram might become a burden on Australian tax payers.
The Ingrams have always maintained this was unlikely; Mrs Ingram's condition is stable and she had full private health insurance and a "top up policy" to cover out of pocket costs.