Hervey Bay eye doctor and her children could be deported

Veerle Van Tricht and her children are facing deportation, unless she can pass an exam that will allow her to practice as an eye specialist in this country.
Veerle Van Tricht and her children are facing deportation, unless she can pass an exam that will allow her to practice as an eye specialist in this country. Valerie Horton

A DUNDOWRAN Beach mum and her children are facing deportation unless she can retake a test that will allow her family to stay in the country.

Veerle Van Tricht, an eye specialist who came to Australia from Belgium more than seven years ago, was operating her own business, Fraser Coast Eye Specialists, when she was informed she would need to pass a test with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists to be able to continue practising.

Dr Van Tricht failed the exam, leaving both herself and her three children, two of whom were born in Australia, exposed to the possibility of deportation.

Dr Van Tricht said the college did not allow her to participate in any training before the test, which had hampered her ability to pass the exam.

Avril Cronk, general manager of community relations and congress for RANZCO, said the college could not comment on an individual's performance or experience with the process.

But she said a specialist who was an international medical graduate who wishes to be registered as a specialist ophthalmologist in Australia can apply for assessment through RANZCO.

Ms Cronk said RANZCO was required by the Australian Medical Board, as the registering authority, to determine the level of comparability with the individual's training, qualifications and experience with those training and qualified in Australia.

She said depending of the level of comparability, the person may be required to undertake peer review, further training or examinations.

Dr Van Tricht, who has 20 years of experience as an eye specialist, said she was hoping RANZCO might be able to offer her training prior to the exam that will leave her better able to pass it.

"Without preparation, passing the exam would be virtually impossible," she said.

Her children were distressed at the thought of leaving Australia as it was the only home they had ever known, Dr Van Tricht said.

Her children do not speak Dutch or French, the two main languages of Belgium, and while Dr Van Tricht could get work in any number of countries, she wants her family to remain in Australia.

The family is surviving by living on the life insurance Dr Van Tricht received when her husband died of cancer a few years ago and all she wants to do is go back to work.

She said it had been her dream to work in Australia since she was a child.

When operating her practice, Dr Van Tricht had 11,000 patients on her books and she was seeing people with many eye problems that are in desperate need of treatment on the Fraser Coast, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

She said she knows her abilities are needed on the Fraser Coast and she would not want to be anywhere else.

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