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‘Double standards’: temporary residents yearn to reunite with families

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This week, Australian permanent residents and citizens are able to travel internationally without needing permission from the government; and with their parents and partners considered ‘immediate family’, long separations will finally come to an end. 

This freedom hasn’t been extended to the 1.6 million temporary residents still in Australia living under various visas. Many of them have been separated from their kin for over 2 years.

Retail worker and temporary resident Amreen Badani last saw her family in 2019. They’ve been asking about her next visit to Bangalore ever since.

“Every day they ask, and it’s become one of those things where I’m now just sad. For me and for them. It’s so heartbreaking to not be able to see them,” Amreen told Indian Link.

Many European countries have already opened borders to the fully vaccinated, international students and temporary residents, and allowed them to travel internationally. Even the US is on track to allow fully vaccinated ‘noncitizens who are nonimmigrants’ in and out of the country from Nov 8, with limited restrictions.

“I’m mostly just infuriated and tired. I’m watching friends from all over the world go back home for Christmas while the government here is not being fair at all”

Amreen and her family in Bangalore. Source: supplied
Amreen and her family in Bangalore. Source: supplied

“Shouldn’t priority be given on the basis of importance and urgency versus citizenship? No one around the world has faced this,” Amreen said.

“There’s a feeling of being used for money constantly as an international student but not giving us the same opportunities as others. I feel like there’s micro discrimination in every small way. Even when I want to apply for graduate roles I can’t because I’m not a citizen, which is ridiculous,” the recent UNSW graduate added.

Anshika Maini with her family in India. Source: supplied
Anshika Maini with her family in India. Source: supplied

Similarly, the wait seems never-ending for Anshika Maini, a temporary resident working as a client services manager in Sydney. Both of Anshika’s parents tested positive for COVID-19 during India’s deadly second wave in April this year. 

“I have had to live with the guilt of not being able to reach out to them in extremely difficult times. Their well-being has been a constant worry for me. I have also lost some extended family members due to COVID and have obviously not been able to visit them,” she said.  

“It is definitely unfair as the Australian government has issued us work visas based on their skill requirements. We contribute to the economy at par with any PR/citizen. We should have equal rights when it comes to travel and other benefits. Australia boasts itself as being an immigrant country, these double standards have not gone very well amongst people like us,” Anshika said. 

“It is very frustrating, irrespective of the visa status, everyone has family that needs to be taken care of back home. Even though my family and I are fully vaccinated and have followed the health guidelines, we can’t visit India.”

Following the Australian government’s round-the-clock updates and announcements regarding easing of rules and travel into the country, the hope is that the state will soon lift restrictions on international travel for temporary residents. 

READ ALSO: Covaxin now recognised in Australia

With Rhea L Nath

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Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

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