LET US HOME
If you have read some of my recent posts or have stayed up to date with current events you will know that Australia has pursued an Elimination Strategy that has now resulted in Australians, such as myself, being stuck out of the country with zero chance of returning home without significant financial hardship. At present, there are over 40,000 Australian's who have registered to return to Australia with 5,000 of them being deemed as in a vulnerable state. Yet Australia and the public don't give a damn about their fellow citizens.
It is evidence by Australian's being left behind at airports due to incoming passenger caps, returnees being treated as lepers on return, a barrage of hatred towards them on social media platforms and being utilised as political footballs (or scapegoats) by all sides of the political spectrum.
This page is dedicated to the issue and you will find such items as facts on the issue, links, articles and my pieces on Australia's policy and uncaring attitude. This was all enacted in the name of "protection" and the constant pursuit of "zero cases" comes at a cost Australia, a cost that is being ignored and flies in the face of what is known in Australia as "mateship" and is a national disgrace.
At the height of the COVID Pandemic Australia realised that as an Island nation it could weather out the storm quite well compared to other nations through strong border controls. As such, in March 2020 the International Border was closed to all countries and only Citizens and Permanent Residents would be permitted into Australia. Because of this Australians overseas were "encouraged" to return home immediately. On arrival, all incoming passengers would be required to Self-Isolate at Home for 14 Days.
On March 27th 2020, it was decided by National Cabinet, a government cabinet made up of the Prime Minister and the Premiers/Chief Ministers of the States and Territories that the Home Self-Isolation wasn't working. As such, from March 29th all arrivals would be placed into a mandatory Quarantine for 14 days utilising unused hotel rooms that were now vacant due to lockdowns, cue Hotel Quarantine.
From September 2020 the Australian Tax Payer would no longer be required to pay this bill but instead those who required the programme.
A charge of $3,000AUD would be charged to an individual or $5,000AUD for a family. This further added to the cost to be incurred of Australians wanting to come home.
It was a programme designed to keep Australia safe, however, the incorrect running of it by many States resulted in COVID been spread into the community. The worse case being in Victoria where 800 Deaths due to COVID occurred and a lockdown where people were locked in their houses for 23hrs a day occurred.
As such a "State of Origin" began to occur and States wanted to outdo each other by having zero cases and thus the birth of an Elimination Strategy occurred. The Prime Minister either had to say "we'll handle quarantine instead" or go along with his now somewhat equal "counterparts" in the State Leaders.
With the new "Elimination Strategy" and the scaring of Victoria's lockdown and other states locking down due to the failures of Hotel Quarantine, Australians have begun to fear their own citizens who just simply wanted or needed to come home as per their basic human rights.
As such the States dictated to the Federal Government to restrict the number of incoming passengers. So unlike any other country Airlines are restricted in the number of passengers that are permitted to board a flight to Australia.
Australia has actively restricted the right of its own citizens to enter their own country. On top of this, due to the International Border Closure still being in effect, an Australian Citizen must seek permission if they wish to fly overseas and many cases are often denied.
With the lack of passengers and massive distance to get to Australia, it means airlines, rightly so, are charging a very high premium to get on a flight to Australia. Seats are also not guaranteed as the passenger cap could mean a sudden reduction. Flights are limited to 40-60 passengers a flight, but airlines have had to refuse passengers with a confirmed ticket because there is no quarantine space available. As such a ticket home, or found online doesn't necessarily mean you'll get that seat. Combine the high cost of buying multiple airfares and the cost of the quarantine on arrival, Australians are unable to get home unless they have strong finances behind them. As such the premise of returning home is out of reach, many Australian's overseas are now without Visas, unemployed, homeless and/or suffering mental health problems with the anxiety issues of being separated from family and friends as too the financial impacts.
Added to the mental health impacts, is the fact that politicians and the populous continue to troll and attack their fellow countrymen and women who simply want to get home. Treating them as scapegoats for their own Government's failures. Basically, Australia has lost its "mateship" and humanity in favour of its Elimination Strategy.
Australia as a multicultural nation can not keep sustaining this border closure or resentment towards the world. They need to remember that Australia is linked to the world and has at least 28% of the population made up of people who were born overseas and close to 50% of citizens still have members of their family overseas.
For those that say "bad luck" to any Aussie overseas then I ask these people, does this mean that you will be telling your friends and family to not travel and/or pursue employment opportunities outside of the country now? Simply because "they shouldn't go in the first place"? Does this mean you would disown them if they chose to go overseas? Because this is the argument you are trying to make.
Australian's have spread their talents and abilities across the world, this is why we made decisions to go overseas and experience new horizons, it's about an adventure and broadening the mind. Australian's do this with the knowledge that they can return at any time and their family and friends can come and see them as well.
"The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer, an Australian Citizen, to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need."
This is inscribed in every Australian Passport and Australia is breaching its own declaration for a policy that is unlike any other nation except perhaps North Korea. It makes Australia the only liberal democracy with a flat out ban on its citizens' ability to cross the border either outbound or inbound.
It's a policy that has to change or what makes Australia, Australia will be lost forever.
There are many misconceptions about Australians overseas still. These are facts that need to be corrected and informed to the Australian public. So next time you consider or hear a friend or family member say anything against their own countrymen and women then informed them of these points:
"Australians were told to come home in March 2020, they had their chance" - This is incorrect! Australians were told by the Federal Government to come home only if they didn't have stable employment. It was called the "shelter in place" order. Effectively if you were a tourist/backpacker, come home ASAP. A year after the ban was ordered many Australian's are now no longer in employment due to Visas running out. This is the reason why the number of Australian's seeking a return is increasing. At no time would an Aussie have followed the "shelter in place" order if they knew the Australian border months later would still not permit an ability to return home freely.
DFAT has 40,000 registered Australians seeking a return - Airlines predict that this number is closer to 100,000 based on the number of cancelled tickets/credits they are holding for Australian's who have purchased tickets to Australia. It would further explain why the registered number seeking a return keeps increasing.
"I'm Always Travelling, I Love Being Free" - As this lyric from Peter Allen's song states, Aussies love to travel and are some of the most fortunate people in the world to have the ability to travel and as frequently as they do. As such, prior to the pandemic, 4% of the population were residing overseas either studying or working. This is a high number and doesn't even consider those simply on a holiday.
What's the problem with celebrities and the rich and famous coming to Australia? - It's an incredible double standard. Many celebrities and those with high finances have been given exemptions to fly into Australia. There is nothing wrong with them coming, however, they haven't just flown in on private/chartered jets they have also been given permission to bypass the Hotel Quarantine programme. Now many argue "so what's the problem they didn't take away an Aussie's ability to fly home?" Well, there are three problems with that argument. First, they are permitted to bypass the Hotel Quarantine programme, no citizen is permitted that luxury. Second, in February 2021 according to the ABS, 43% of arrivals into Australia weren't citizens or permanent residents. Third, Australians wishing to come home from so-called "hot countries" are told to stay in place and not return because they are an apparent threat to Australia, well many of these celebrities have also come from these places with no complaint? It's a double standard Australia.
Wait your turn to come home. There's no problem because I can book a flight for next week easily. So stop your complaining, there's no queue! - No other country has actively restricted its own citizens and permanent residents their ability to return home, even if their home country has a quarantine. Australia is the only liberal democracy in the world that has done this. Also yes, Australians can book flights to get back to Australia, however, seats are not guaranteed with a frequently changing passenger cap. Recently with Western Australia cutting their intake by 50%, many Australian's who had tickets booked to Perth have had them cancelled. When an airline cancels a passenger's tickets due to a cap, the priority is given to First/Business Class passengers who have paid the most. As such many Australians have bought multiple tickets to only have them cancelled or to be left at the airport, resulting in awaiting refunds that take weeks to process. For many that money is a matter of life or death.
Hotel Quarantine was brought in because Australian's couldn't be trusted to self-isolate at home - According to the Coate Inquiry into Victorian's failed Hotel Quarantine programme it found that the number of breaches of those who weren't adhering to their home quarantine was very small. I personally returned to Australia prior to the Hotel Quarantine and was given the opportunity to self-isolate at home. I was only contacted by Police for a "spot check" on Day 13 of 14 and they were at the wrong location. Although I declared where I would be for 14 Days with the Australian Border Force, they didn't share that information with State Authorities tasked with conducting spot checks. The system in its haste didn't give local authorities the right tools for the job. Second, at the start of the programme, there wasn't a requirement for a negative PCR test prior to boarding your flight to Australia and no testing was conducted even in Hotel Quarantine. A year later, many of these items have been corrected, Australians both at home and still abroad understand the importance of self-isolation as well. Australia is continuing with an outdated Quarantine policy that is reducing the ability to return.
Australia's Quarantine Programme is Outdated - According to the CDC they recommend, even for those who actually have tested positive to COVID, that no more than a 10 Day Quarantine is required. As such many countries have updated their policies based on an assumption that a test on arrival or the day after is what starts your 10 Day Count for a Quarantine, such as in the UK.
Hotel Quarantine is actually a threat to Australia - According to NSW Health, less than 1% of arrivals into Australia actually test positive to COVID. Considering now that Australians are required to have a negative PCR test prior to boarding the flight, cases are actually spiking in the Hotel Quarantine. Where an overwhelming amount of healthy returnees are locked in a facility with people who are actually positive. Returnees are actually getting COVID in the hotel programme and exposing staff in the hotels to it. This was evident in the Victorian Quarantine bungle and recently in Western Australia where many are testing positive either after leaving the programme or towards the end of their stays. The Coate Inquiry recommended that Home Quarantine, with sufficient monitoring, was the safest way to prevent COVID from being spread to those who were negative as too the staff. Yet State and Federal Authorities continue with this outdated policy.
How could we update the policy to increase returning Australians? - Even countries at the height of the pandemic quickly implemented policies that kept them safe and didn't restrict their citizens and permanent residents the ability to return home. For example, in the UAE they permitted citizens and permanent residents to return on the condition they had a negative PCR test prior to departure and agreed to another one on arrival at Dubai Airport. You were required to self-isolate until your second test result was available. If it was positive you were given strict government orders to remain at home for 14 days, if it was negative your self-isolation period was over. The UK now has a Home Quarantine programme (or you can choose a selected hotel) for a 10 Day Self-Isolation. The UK also offers a 5 Day Quarantine if you have come from many countries, the process requires you to have three PCR tests over that five day period, if all are negative then your Quarantine is over, if any are positive then you have a full 10-day quarantine, Australia could adopt many updated policies that would at least end the strain on the Hotel Quarantine programme and in turn permit more Australians home but are failing to do so. One simple solution could be across the ditch in NZ where residents are permitted to book their spot in a Hotel Quarantine then book a flight. If you don't have a spot booked in the Quarantine then you are denied boarding. This is a quick fix that would stop Australians been left at the airport.
"We've got a bunch of smart guys. We lock 'em in a room and kick 'em in the ass until they come up with some solutions!"
Robert F. Kennedy
Follow Robert Kennedy's advice when it comes to this Australia, you have a massive problem and you can find a solution to it, why you choose not to is very concerning. If however, the solution is the abandonment of your own citizens then as a country you might not have COVID but it's at the loss of your humanity aka the Aussie trait of 'mateship.' Are you really ok with that?
Slowly media outlets are starting to share the stories and price of Australia's policy in shutting out their own. This is above politics and anyone that makes it about it should just stop! It's simple, these are your own people, getting them home, as per their basic human right, it shouldn't be an issue.
Check out some of these articles and share them with everyone you know so that they might understand the toll that is on the shoulders of your fellow Aussies.
I have written many pieces of late on the topic of Australia and its lockout of its own citizens.
One post is the letter that I sent to the Prime Minister. This letter was very similar to many that I have sent to other Members of Parliament, at all levels, and on both sides of the aisle. It covers many solutions to the problem of getting Australians home. Solutions our elected officials and even the populous seem unwilling to even open their minds to even consider.
Some of my other posts are simply about how I see Australia from afar now as I try to figure out why, even our own friends, seem unwilling to assist us.
I encourage you to read all of my posts on the topic and share them with as many people as possible.
Below are a bunch of sites containing many resources that could assist Aussies still stuck abroad and those who are wanting to assist.
Stranded Aussies - Great site with a lot of information and helpful resources under their 'Get Support' page.
Free and Open Australia - A group that is leading the fight with legal cases and providing support to Australian's who wish to take the fight to the courts.
Go Fund Me (UN Legal Challenge) - Help stranded Australians who intend to take the legal fight further with the United Nations.
DFAT (Returning to Australia Registration) - If you're an Australian overseas and haven't registered, even if you are safe where you are, do register your intention to return. The more official numbers in the system the better chance politicians and the country realises how many of their fellow countrymen and women are overseas. The higher the number the more chance of getting momentum in getting us home.
Department of Home Affairs (Register to Leave Australia) - If you have your family overseas and are wanting to see them, register to depart Australia. Even if you have no intention to travel, or know it will be denied, register so Governmental agencies see that it's not just those overseas who are affected. The more Aussies wanting to depart, as too arrive, the more chance the data supports a reopening of the border.
Go Fund Me (Andre Rivenell) - Andre has permanent residency in Australia, however, he has been unable to get back to Australia where his wife (a citizen) resides for over a year now. Besides the separation, Andre has recently had a bout of health problems and is unable to get back to Australia due to these border closures.
Love Not Tourism - A group fighting for the right of couples of binational origin to be reunited. Simply a request for borders to be reopened is not for touristic/travel purposes. It's for love and human connection. As Hugh Grant said in 'Love Actually' - "I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport." A closure of international borders has removed this exact connection we have with loved ones across the globe.
How to Help
Write letters to your Member of Parliament, get involved with social media, attend an anti-lockdown protest and begin to call out the narrative and the double standards.
If you hear someone talking about supporting the closure of the border or using terms such as "they were told to come home, so why are they still there?" tell them the truth. Speak up! Remind them that it's not as simple as that. Tell them the facts, such as those listed on this site. Ask them does this mean they have disowned their own countrymen? Would they disown their own family or friends if they were overseas? Also, call out any politician or anyone who wants to politicise this topic. It's a situation that's above politics, it's your basic human right!
It's about standing up for your rights and not just the right of those overseas. The constant closure of the International border and abandonment of your fellow citizens is in fact devaluing your own Citizenship. It is devaluing the life you have come to know as an Australian, these rules might not be affecting you now but ask yourself how long before it will?
Australia, stand up for yourselves, end your isolation from the world and remind us why Australia is the 'lucky country.' It's not too late!