20th November 2020
Indian students who’ve paid millions in Australia are being tortured en-masse by keeping families and children separated
[DO NOT FORGET TO DOWNLOAD AND SHAREMY 68,000 WORD COMPLAINT TO THE INTERNTATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT]
This is a second email I received (the first was in July 2020 but since I was in a government job I could not raise the matter publicly at that stage) – I’m noting it for the public record – as part of the enormous torture being imposed on Indians who have valid student visas but are being treated worse than lepers.
[I’ve slightly edited edited these emails for clarity]
RECEIVED 19 NOVEMBER 2020
The situation is still the same after 9 months. It’s especially appalling as the families are not being considered despite such a long time having passed. And when we file for exemption as our partner is in Australia we have been asked to tell our partner to go home.
The Victorian impasse on opening of Melbourne Airport being shut since 6 months has further compounded our problems as we are pushed back in the queue.
We are still not able to understand why the Hotel Quarantine has not been started again as 6 months have passed now. Furthermore the federal government has been trying to get the citizens since last 1 year but the statistics of citizens/PR stuck overseas is the same.The number of outward travel exemptions granted is also increasing.
We have invested our careers, savings and taken loans to studythere but we are brutally neglected. I hope you could raise this issue in your blogs or among the Indian community.
RECEIVED 3 JULY 2020
I am reaching out to you pleading on behalf of all those families separated due to the travel ban in Australia. It has been more than three months since we are separated from families. The mental and emotional turmoil this has caused cannot be explained in words.
To elaborate there are number of young mothers stranded with very small children and even babies separated from their husband and without their support it is becoming increasingly difficult. How do we explain this ruthless separation to our children?It has been such a confusing and troubling experience for them and without a doubt is affecting their mental health and is starting to reflect in their behaviour.
Furthermore, there are instances where Mother is being separated from their childand nothing can be more distressing than that to worry about every moment how the child is surviving with her. I personally feel so distressing seeing everyday pass by without seeing my partner miss the interaction so much. We are unable to explain the kids why they cannot return to school.
Hon’ble Senator Nick McKim pointed out one such example in his speech at the parliament where a mother from India has been kept away from her four-year- old son and refused exemptions 22 times how cruel is that? I have mentioned a link to the video for reference.
We have all submitted multiple [applications for] exemptions under the compassionate and compelling criteria, pleading the Australian Government to allow us to reunite with our families but every single one of us has been rejected or ignored.
We have now started a WhatsApp group for families separated to support each other and share each other’s concern during this phase and we appeal to you for your help and support.
Being an Australian citizen and a respected member of the community with strong connections, I believe you can understand the severity of this matter and take this forward with the authorities and your voice certainly carries the weight.
Other western countries for example like New Zealand, Canada furthermore Malaysia and UAE have addressed the issue of families separated and made considerations for them during border closures and allowed the families to reunite after a few months.
New Zealand and Australia closed their borders on the same date, but the key difference was that New Zealand allowed dependants of work and student visa holders stranded outside to apply for exemptions and enter the country.While Australia did this for immediate family members of PR and citizens, this compassion was not extended to us just because we are not PR/Citizen doesn’t mean we are not human.
The stress is getting to the point where we are spending sleepless nights and is starting to have startling effect on physical and mental health, and we are hoping it doesn’t translate into something that is irreversible.
We call Australia home as we consider it to be one of the best countries, but we never expected Australia to treat us in such manner.
We are lawful visa holders and have paid millions in education, fees, rentals etc. In this dire hour of need we needed Australia to extend us the olive branch for us to be with our family and face this once in a generation crisis together but here we are fighting just to be with each other.We are no way a burden to Australiaeven in such a crisis as we neither seek any support nor are eligible for one and have not asked for any financial grants. We are paying for our own medical insurance as well.
The least we expect from Australian government is to just allow us to reunite with our family,that is our only concern.
Despite such a crisis we are ready to pay the quarantine charges and the charter flight charges.
The most puzzling aspect is that Australia’s health minister himself has acknowledged if overseas returnees complete a 14-day quarantine they are no threat to the community as an example out of 20000 Australian citizens/PR who returned only 1 percent were having COVID19. If quarantine works for citizens/PR it is no different for us.We understand it is a matter of national interest and have been waiting patiently for the government to acknowledge us and give a concrete plan for our return.
We approach you in despair and earnestly request you to address this matter with Hon’ble Dutton/ Hon’ble Alan Tudge and others in authority. We understand the quarantine facilities can be a problem so if the government initiates the return process at earliest this process can be carried out in a phased manner and if government does give any assurances and timelines the families can have a breathing space and be relaxed knowing that they are going to be with their loved ones on a certain date that would be really soothing. This endless wait and uncertainty are leading to severe anxiety and mental stress.
Our only request is
- Address us and give us a timeline if you cannot start the process immediately.
- Start the process of reuniting families in a phased manner so there are adequate quarantine facilities available without harming anyone from the community.
- Provide a pathway for expired BVB return as well for families for now