MPs Zali Stegal and Nick McKim are presenting a petition in the parliament this week to add parents living overseas as an exemption category inthe family reunion visa system.
Image: Supplied by Manav Jaggi
It’s been over two years since Vijaya last met her parents. She cannot go to India as Australian citizens, and permanent residents, cannot leave the country – except in an emergency. And her parents cannot visit her in Australia as the borders are closed for foreigners except in some situations.
“I need an urgent reason to visit my parents. Isn’t this a tragedy of our times,” says Vijaya, who does not want to share her last name.
Adelaide-based Manav Jaggi says his mother is living alone in India.
“She went to India last year to comply with her visa condition to be offshore for her 870 long term parent visa and got stuck due to a pandemic. The government is not giving exemption to her to come back, and exemption got rejected 25 times. It’s like She followed the rules set by the government and immigration and now got stuck,” Mr Jaggi told NRI Affairs.
He said, “They gave us birth, and when they need us the most, they are not with us just because of this law? How can we convince ourselves and be in this trauma? It gives many of us mental and emotional stress and our health and personal life is getting disturbed!”
Manav Jaggi is one of thousands of Australians who are appealing to the Australian government to add parents as an exemption category.
A petition signed by over 70,000 people has been presented to the Federal Parliament by Zali Steggal, lawyer and former Olympic athlete serving as Member of Parliament for the Division of Warringah.
The same petition will be presented to the Senate by Greens Senator Nick McKim on Wednesday.
“Currently, parents cannot travel to Australia to be reunited with the family because they are not classed as ‘immediate family’. Parents are essential, and connection with family is equally important to migrants as it is to families living in Australia. Australians and PR have not seen their parents for a significant amount of time due to the travel ban and strict exemption criteria which prevents people from obtaining exemptions unless they have a ‘compelling reason’,” reads the petition.
“Covid-19 has impacted many Australians; however, being apart from parents for an extended period of time without any indication of when they will be reunited puts unrealistic expectations on those desperate to see family. This has had a profound impact, mental health has significantly declined, children have not met grandparents, people have had to give up work due to limited support and families are having to re-evaluate their lives in Australia and have had to leave despite being here for many years. Citizens and PR have jobs and responsibilities with they cannot leave for 3 months or more.”
“We, therefore, ask the House to add parents as an exemption category. If exemptions cannot be obtained for parents coming to Australia, please consider allowing an exemption for people with family overseas to travel. Reunification with family should be a compelling and compassionate reason.”
This is the second such petition presented to the Australian government through the Federal Parliament. A similar appeal was introduced in November last year; however, the Department of Home Affairs said it had no plans to make any changes to the exemption category.
A group of appellants will organise an Australia-wide peaceful protest on 24 July to augment their appeal.