14 June, 2021
Independent Zali Steggall MP will introduce a petition into the House of Representatives on Tuesday calling for the parents of Australians and Permanent Residents living overseas to be classed as “immediate family members” in order to be eligible for travel exemptions.
Under the current laws, parents who are not Australian citizens and live overseas are not eligible for exemptions to travel to Australia.
More than 70,500 people have signed the petition, also calling for more compassion in allowing citizens to leave Australia to visit family.
Zali Steggall MP will hold a press conference in Parliament House at 10am on Tuesday, 15 June with a number of families who have been affected by the changes, before introducing the petition into Parliament during Private Member’s Statement from 1.30pm.
Local Warringah mother Natalie Warren signed the petition, desperate to see her UK-based mum after suffering from post-natal depression and having no close family support.
“We are being denied the most basic right to see our most immediate family, our parents,” she said.
“Our overseas parents are fully vaccinated, have the means to travel and pay for quarantine, and are willing to undergo any measures to keep Australians safe, if only they would be allowed to see their children and grandchildren again.
“The ongoing family separation with no end date planned is having a huge impact on my mental health, and that of thousands of Australians in similar situations. I have been suffering from post natal depression and am struggling emotionally and physically to care for my newborn without the family support that I would otherwise have had.”
Ms Steggall said her office is being inundated with desperate calls for help, particularly from new mothers whose parents are unable to come into Australia to assist them.
“Many people are now considering their options and may permanently leave. Australia may face a significant skills drain if this policy is not reviewed,” Ms Steggall said.
“Australia’s borders closed in March 2020 as an emergency measure but have now been closed for over 14 months. A third of Australians are born overseas and are struggling with the separation from family or partners overseas and the Government has refused to extend travel exemption categories to family members and visa holders.
“It is becoming untenable for the federal Government to have no long-term plan. We are facing a skills drain.”
The petition calls on the Government to:
- add parents as an exemption category.
- If exemptions cannot be obtained for parents coming to Australia please consider allowing exemption for people with family overseas to travel.
- Reunification with family should be a compelling and compassionate reason.
For more information go to: e-petitions – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au)
PRESS CONFERENCE ALERT
MURAL HALL, 15 JUNE
Where: Mural Hall, APH
Who: Zali Steggall MP and a number of families whose parents’ cannot travel to Australia due to the current restrictions.
For any media inquiries please call Sarah Whyte 0407 790 892.