Paralympic rower Kevin Wall appeals to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for last chance

Kevin Wall is appealing for ministerial intervention.  Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d439429
Kevin Wall is appealing for ministerial intervention. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d439429

Since the Stirling Times broke his story in June, Wall has become a permanent resident but must be a citizen before he can row for Australia.

Wall said he had tried to contact Minister Dutton and urge him to use his ministerial discretion to “cut the red tape”.

“I want Mr Dutton to turn around next September and say, ‘if it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t have brought a medal home, I used my discretion and it paid off’,” he said.

The former Woodlands resident relocated to Sydney to further his rowing prospects and trained at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra.

A gruelling training regime and a 80-hour working week have not stopped the 30-year-old from being as driven as ever.

“If gaining citizenship ever became a Paralympic sport, I’d be a head coach,” he said.

Wall said cerebral palsy hindered his visa pathway as it meant he could not hold down a job for the time needed to ensure citizenship.

“Cerebral palsy kept on getting me thrown out of mechanic jobs because it affects the hands and coordination, so it takes me a little bit longer,” he said.

“I know my stuff and I have a good head on my shoulders but I suppose they realised time is money.”

Now employed full-time in Sydney, Wall said although he had missed the standard application process there was still a way to become a citizen.

“There is a provision for ministerial discretion where the Immigration Minister Mr Dutton can grant me citizenship on the grounds that I’m going for an Olympic or Paralympic team,” he said.

Wall has also appealed to the public, creating an online petition with more than 1900 signatures so far.

Both Rowing Australia and Rowing Ireland chief executives have thrown their support behind Wall.

Wall said it was his dream to make the nation’s Paralympic team.

“I’ve been a coach, a captain and an umpire, three of my siblings have represented Ireland in rowing and my dad was going for the Olympic team many moons ago,” he said.

“Rowing is in my blood and I’m hoping I’ll be putting that green and gold on very, very soon.

“If I had citizenship, I have no doubt that I would be selected.”

Click here to sign the petition.