Temporary residents who have been stranded overseas since Australia shut its borders say they’ve now been forced to abandon their “Australian dream” and resettle back in their home countries.
Temporary residents who have been stranded overseas since Australia shut its borders say they've now been forced to abandon their "Australian dream" and resettle back in their home countries.
Patrick Fransz and his wife Lindsey, from Liverpool, England made the big move to Melbourne with their three children in March last year.
"I was travelling from the UK for work and every time I was in Australia I would think, 'Oh this is a great place, it sort of feels like home.'"
Spending some time in Adelaide with his family in 2018 was the clincher, Mr Fransz said.
"When we got back we said, 'Right that's it, let's move to Oz. It all happened really quick, by March of the next year we had sold our home and packed up and were on our way."
The family moved to Melbourne on a skilled visa granted to Mr Fransz, who is an operations manager for pest control company Rentokil.
Over the next few months, the Fransz family began to make Melbourne their new home.
"That wasn't something that happened overnight. It was a huge move for kids. It took months for them to get settled in at school and make friends," he said.
Then, at the beginning of March this year, Mrs Fransz and the children flew back to Liverpool for a holiday and to attend a family wedding.
The plan was for Mr Fransz to join them a few weeks later.
"We booked the flights in October. When they left the pandemic wasn't even front-page news, it was something that was just in China," he said.
"But, by the time they had been back a week, it had escalated very quickly and countries were closing their borders.
"I had to make the decision to return to Liverpool to be with them. At that point it was hard, nobody knew what would happen, it could have been a few months before we could fly again and I couldn't face being away from my wife and kids for that long."
On March 20, Australia put in place its travel ban, preventing all but Australian citizens and permanent residents from entering the country.
The move meant Mr Fransz and his family were among the thousands of temporary visa holders unable to get home to Australia.
Since then, Mr Fransz said he had applied for an Australian Border Force exemption for his family to travel back to Australia, several times.
"I have lost track of how many exemptions I have applied for. We even had a migration specialist do it on our behalf and that didn't give us any results," he said.
The past five months had been emotionally and financially draining for the whole family, Mr Fransz said.
"I'm paying for rent here and in Melbourne. I'm paying for a car in Melbourne that I can't sell or drive, as well as other utility bills and expenses. We've been dipping into our savings to survive."
With the support of his company, Mr Fransz has also been working his Australian job, from 9pm to 4am every night.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it seemed unlikely international borders would reopen before Christmas.
"I would welcome if by Christmas it were possible, but I think it's unlikely that we [will be] able to move back to a restriction-free society [by then]," he said. "I doubt that is going to happen, and I doubt the medical situation will enable it," he said.
Unwilling to live with the uncertainty of when they would be able to make it back to Australia, Mr Fransz said he and his family had finally had enough and would be resettling back in the UK.
"My family and I have given up on our Australian Dream … we've had to make the decision to stay here and return to life in the UK as there is no end in sight," Mr Fransz wrote in a post to the Facebook page "Australia's skilled temporary residents stuck overseas" which has more than 2000 members.
In response to the post, many other expats also come to the same conclusion.
"We are in the same boat, only South Africa. My husband is flying back next week, we have made the decision that being together as a family is much more important than holding on to the idea that we will see each other 'soon'," one temporary visa holder, Charmonique, wrote.
"Every time you receive another rejection email from Border Control it just shudders your dream of returning again. Australia has failed us all so badly yet newly received PR (permanent resident) visa holders get to go in without any questions asked - having no job, no place to stay, not having paid any taxes... Such an unfair world indeed."
Canadian national Bettina said her family would not be coming back to Australia either.
"Same here. We are back in Canada for good. Australia has been a huge disappointment in this situation," she wrote.
Mr Fransz said he had been left feeling frustrated by the Australian government's response to their situation, which seemed to go against Australian values.
"I know one of the key principles of Australian culture, and it's even in the citizenship booklet, is about mateship," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned for the past 12 months we have been Australian, we have been living in the country, paying taxes, being involved in schools, social networks, contributing towards the economy.
"The fact that we're not even being recognised as a group that needs help, it's not very Australian."
Contact reporter Emily McPherson at email@example.com.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/australia-travel-ban-border-closures-coronavirus-temporary-visa-holders-giving-up-on-australian-dream/0b6f9572-5b9e-4d96-9986-7e40aa46bd88