Gail Baker is a woman living in Australia. On March 10th she was diagnosed with sudden advanced ovarian cancer. She is dying in an Australian Hospital and her dying request and wishes that her sister, who is a retired nurse, can fly from New Zealand to take care of her at her home as she reaches the end of her life.
The reality she faces is not very encouraging. The 65-year-old woman faces the possibility of dying alone in a hospital without her sister next to her to offer comfort.
The Department of Home Affairs has denied four applications for a travel exemption on compassionate grounds during this COVID-19 crisis to her sister.
The retired nurse had her Permission to enter Australia denied four times!
The sister’s name is Christine Archer and she is a retired nurse. She said she just cried and that she couldn’t believe what was happening. She feels that the Australian Government just won’t let her go to New Zealand.
According to the last response she received from the department, Ms. Archer did not “meet the criteria” for a travel exemption. The department communicated the result via e-mail that was provided to ABC.
The messages say that the correspondent understands that the situation may difficult to accept, but that any other claim based on those grounds won’t result in a reconsideration for a travel exemption in these circumstances. As of April 22nd, this is what Ms. Archer knows about her case.
According to the Federal Government travel exemptions bases on compassionate and compelling reason
The Australian Department of Home Affairs has the authority to grant a travel exemption to people who have a compassionate and compelling reason to travel to the country in an urgent capacity.
The four rejections have caused great distress to Ms. Baker. For her is heartbreaking that she cannot have her sister with her. She said to ABC that she does not believe that she is more special than those elderly people that live in care homes without seeing their families for weeks.
Working very hard to fulfill her sister’s dying wish
Her cancer was discovered after a fall at her home in the NSW Mid North Coast. When the doctor visited her home in Bowraville after the fall. Back then the doctors told her that she had weeks or maybe months to live.
Ms. Archer was notified of her sister’s cancer while returning to New Zealand after spending time on the Vasco da Gama cruise. After receiving the news, the retired nurse tried to disembark during a Western Australia cruise stop and go immediately under self-isolation for the required two weeks. From there she planned to travel to her sister’s hospital to take care of Ms. Baker. However, her request was not granted.
Since returning to New Zealand Ms. Archer has fulfilled her mandatory period of self-isolation and has been working to get to her sister before she dies.
At home for now but for how long?
Erica Peterson who is Ms. Baker only daughter has traveled regularly to Australia to tend to her mother at the Bellingen palliative CU. She lives in Uralla in New England. It is hundreds of kilometers trip.
For the moment Ms. Baker is at her house but her daughter Ms. Peterson is uncertain as to how long will she’ll be able to be there. She also said that it is vital that her aunt can travel to Australia. Ms. Peterson is a mother to three children, therefore, she is not able to afford full-time care for her mother at her house so that she can pass away there as it is her wish.
For her, it is extremely difficult traveling and splitting her time caring for her mother and for her kids. She says she feels extremely sad for her mother.
The Government has shown no compassion.
On the third time applying, Ms. Archer was requested to provide additional supporting documents. This she did on the fourth time applying on April 22.
At the request of the Australian Department of Home Affairs, the retired nurse presented a letter describing her sister’s current health condition signed by health authorities; she was also asked to present her birth certificate, a receipt of a flexible return ticket, as well as her nursing qualifications.
In spite of this, she was rejected again for the fourth time. Ms. Peterson says she cannot comprehend why.
She feels that it is very cruel and heartbreaking for her mother that she is denied her wish to die around her family, her sister, daughter, and her grandkids. The daughter states that her mother has been such a positive person in other people’s lives for so many years
Federal government plea
For Ms. Peterson, it is not right to see her mother being treated with absolutely no compassion from the government.
Together with her husband Matt, Ms. Peterson appealed to the Cowper federal member Ms. Peterson and her husband, Matt, also appealed to Pat Conaghan, the Federal member for assistance.
Mr. Conaghan also made a statement explaining that he referred the matter to the Home Affairs parliamentary liaison office
He added that he sympathizes with Ms. Baker’s family but travel restrictions are set in place under the supervision of the Chief Medical Officer to stop the virus from spreading further in Australia and to help save lives.
Retired Nurse desperately pleads for the fifth time.
The retired nurse has placed all her hopes on an application for a travel exemption for the fifth time.
She says she is trying to remain optimistic but to be rejected four times is very hard. Another source of optimism for the family is the ongoing talks between the government of both countries (Australia and New Zealand) to remove the existing travel ban between both countries.
Back at her home on Bowraville for the time being, Ms. Baker maintains her hopes that her sister is able to come to Australia and care for her as they both took care of their mother when she died. Ms. Baker says it was lovely for her mother to have such comfort and she hopes she can be so lucky as to have the same thing done for her.
The retired nurse’s message
On the other hand, Ms. Archer sends a message to the Federal Government. In that message she asks them to please let her in. Ms. Baker is her sister. She asks them to consider how would they feel if it was their family, their sister, children, or their wives and you simply were not allowed to be there with them.
Certainly food for thought. The harsh consequences of migrations on families.
In a very optimistic scenario, travel bans will begin to be lifted by the end of the summer. So travel plans for this season will be on hold.