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DFAT advice to daughter

of dying man:

Use Facebook to source funds

BY HENRIETTA COOK
28 Apr, 2011 06:57 AM

Foreign Affairs officials told the daughter of a dying Australian man stranded in China to use Facebook to raise money for her father’s medical expenses.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrat included the suggestion in an email advising Canberra woman Tracy Woolley that the Federal Government would not help with her stricken father’s plight.

Ms Woolley’s father Thomas Barry Moore, a former air force serviceman, has been in a coma in a Chinese hospital for 118 days after suffering a stroke on December 31 in Zhengzhou in north-central China.

Ms Woolley contacted DFAT on January 4 asking for help because she could not afford to visit her father or cover the estimated $160,000 for his repatriation to Australia.

When it became apparent MrMoore was likely to remain in a vegetative state, she asked doctors to turn off his life support but was told ethical concerns prevented them.

Ms Woolley is currently sending the hospital $770 a week to keep her father alive but said she could not afford to meet these payments beyond next month.

On March 4, an official from the consular operations branch of DFAT sent Ms Woolley an email suggesting she collect money to cover medical expenses from online ”friends” who had joined a Facebook ”causes” page she created for her father.

”Perhaps [use] your friends on the social networking site you are using to alert people to your father’s plight may also be able to provide funds to further extend your father’s care,” the email said.

Earlier in the email he wrote, ”despite our best intentions and our embassy speaking with the hospital and Mr Zhang on many occasions, there is no further action we can take to improve your father’s situation.”

DFAT has not shifted its stance on Mr Moore since The Canberra Times broke the story of the man’s plight on Tuesday. The department now says Ms Woolley never made a request for financial assistance, despite emails revealing otherwise. A DFAT spokeswoman said financial assistance for medical evacuations was only provided in special situations. She said these were limited to, ”medical evacuations where medical facilities are inadequate to treat their condition satisfactorily or their condition is so severe there is no time to consider other funding sources”.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs said while she couldn’t comment on Mr Moore’s case for ”privacy reasons”, veterans who travelled overseas should take out insurance.

Ms Woolley said her father had funeral insurance and was covered for six weeks of medical care, excluding repatriation, by the Henan University of Technology, the place where he had worked for two years as an English teacher. Ms Woolley said her father was unable to take out travel insurance because he had lived overseas for more than a year.

RSL NSW offered to pay for airfares to help Ms Woolley travel to China but she asked that the money be allocated to his medical expenses instead. ”I said that was very nice but I need more than that. My father would never have wanted what is happening to him.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha