Australian Citizenship has turned around the life of Plarm Pongprom.
30 October 2009
All smiles for newest Australian citizen
A 17-year-old trainee beauty therapist has been granted Australian citizenship, the final step in a long journey from the streets of a Thai slum to the sunny town of Mareeba near Cairns in Queensland.
Plarm Pongprom says her home is now Queensland, and it's a long way from the streets of Thailand's Takhli where the teen once sold water in a Thai slum.
"Being [an Australian] citizen means everything to me," the 17-year-old trainee beauty therapist said. "It means I'm safe."
Her joy at Australian citizenship is shared by her grandparents Ken and Sunan Ritchie, who brought her to Australia when she was five after discovering that Plarm's drug-addicted parents had her selling water on a train.
Plarm was brought to Australia on an Australian Tourist Visa and her grandparents then applied to Australian immigration officials for Plarm to be granted permission to stay.
It has been six years of paperwork and reviews, but fortunately Plarm was granted Australian residency through ministerial intervention.
An Australian Tourist Visa should only be used to enter Australia for tourism purposes, and Visa Bureau advises holders to adhere to the conditions of the visa grant, which includes not overstaying the visa.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people to emigrate to Australia.