International travel still irrelevant for thousands of visa holders as Australia moves to Covid normal

The hated overseas travel ban will finally end next month – but thousands of people Australia desperately relies on have been brutally left behind.

A few days ago, the government announced that the international borders would open at some point in November, having been closed for the past two years.

While most of my friends were laughing with joy, I was crying uncontrollably.

In the ad, I saw the words I feared. Yes, Australians can travel abroad again. Australian citizens and permanent residents. Not me. Not the rest of us. I checked all the articles I could, but the wording was the same.

I have lived in Australia for almost six years now, but what the past two years have shown me is how differently you are treated if you are not a voting citizen.

The Prime Minister told me to “go home” if I did not have enough savings to help me for the foreseeable future.

When I lost my job, I was not eligible for JobKeeper or JobsSeeker.

In the end, I managed to overcome the visa hurdle for once and got a full time job doing what I love.

But now, after struggling to be able to stay in this country that I love so much, I can’t leave.

I’m going to have to wait and watch my friends go on vacation to Europe, when I can’t go home to Norway and see my sick grandmother.

I had to tell my desperately sad mother that I couldn’t come home and help her after her operation in a few months.

I will not be able to visit my 45 year old aunt, who has been diagnosed with dementia and may only have a few years to live.

I posted a rather dark photo of me crying that day, when everything was announced, and comments were pouring in.

One woman said she was separated from her husband for 21 months, another said she asked to see her sick mother but was rejected.

A father who missed the birth of his daughter.

A mother who has not seen her son for three years.

A boy who lost his father and was unable to attend his funeral.

The stories are endless.

It is incredibly unfair that a huge proportion of people living in this country are treated differently, purely based on our visa status.

We work, pay taxes, contribute to society, but don’t have the same opportunities as others.

I am also painfully aware that I am very lucky. I’m sitting here and writing this because a lot of people are in much worse situations than me, but it still hurts.

My mom leaves me voice messages while crying.

My little sister draws me, where I am sitting on a plane, I return to her.

When my dad explained that I couldn’t go home, she added a staircase to the plane on her drawing, saying she would come up and look for me. It breaks my heart.

I can see the guilt in my friends’ eyes when they mention their plans for next year.

Go on a trip to Italy in June. Skiing in Japan. Visit of friends in London.

That in itself makes me so sad, because I’m happy for them.

Some of them have spent almost two years in confinement, they deserve it.

It’s still unfair, but it’s not their fault.

My partner was supposed to celebrate Christmas with his family in England, but their plans have now changed, after I cracked – selfish enough – begging him not to leave me alone at Christmas.

It’s not the moment I’m most proud of, but I’m terrified of being alone again this Christmas.

So here we are to hope. Hoping that the government will allow us all to go see our families. Not just the citizens and permanent residents, but the international students who are stuck here. Parents separate from their children. Husbands separate from their wives. Those who just want to go home to say goodbye to a loved one.

I want to kiss my mother. I want to help him after his operation. I need to see my grandmother again before it’s too late. I want to spend time with my aunt before she forgets who I am.

I want my dad to be able to tell my little sister that I’m finally coming on a plane. She will see me again.

Please let us come home and see our loved ones. But more importantly – please let us get back.

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