Since March 25, Australian citizens have been banned from leaving the country as part of the extreme measures taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
For Australians wanting to leave the country, they must have a 'compelling reason' in their request for a travel exemption from the Australian Border Force (ABF).
Five months on from the start of the ban, and over 100,000 requests later, about one third of applications for exemptions have been approved, with thousands of others rejected.
Side note... Here's how to talk to anti-vaxxers. Post continues below.
For many Australians, being confined to the country's borders has brought extreme hardship, with several stories circulating of the people behind the statistics who are unable to leave despite their painful circumstances.
There is Kristian Stekic, for example, who explained to the ABC that he has applied to leave three times on compassionate grounds. He has been separated from his family in Europe, including his daughter who underwent surgery, since May and has no idea when he will next see them.
His story is one of the thousands of Australians who describe feeling trapped. One woman explained to the Sydney Morning Herald that the restrictions "makes me feel like I am living in a prison... it's a prison island."
According to the ABF, there are only six reasons residents can leave the country. They are:
- Your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
- Your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
- You are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- You are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
- You are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
- Your travel is in the national interest.
These rules don't apply to you if:
- You're an ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
- An airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
- A New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
- Engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight
- Associated with essential work at Australian offshore facilities
- Travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force
For all citizens applying for the travel exemption, the ABF asks for extensive documentation to support claims, including marriage certificate, proof of relationship, doctor certificates, proof of valid visa and more, depending on the respective circumstance.