Chris Mottershead is desperate for his nine-month-old daughter Dylan to meet her grandmother for the first time.
Lorraine Mottershead, 59, lives in the UK. Her son Chris is in Sydney.
He jokingly tells his mother the only way he’ll get to go home and see her for the foreseeable future is if the worst happens.
But the whole situation is no laughing matter.
“I say, ‘to be honest, mum, unless you die, I can’t get an exemption,” he told 9News.
“Even though I say it jokingly, it would appear the only grounds to obtain an exemption, so I’m also being serious.”
Mr Mottershead, 37, is one of the nation’s millions of expats growing increasingly upset by the lack of clarity on when international borders will reopen.
He is a permanent resident and soon-to-be citizen of Australia, having lived here for a decade. His partner Courtney, mother to Dylan, is an Australian.
Permission can only be only granted for a small list of reasons, including a death or serious illness, or if you are to leave for more than three months.
And even if Mr Mottershead could leave his sales and marketing job for three months there’s no guarantee of being able to get back to Australia due to the flight caps in place – only 6000 people can fly into the country per week.
And while Australians can bring ‘immediate family’ in, that government definition does not include parents – even if they are vaccinated and take part in $3000, 14-day hotel quarantine.
Mr Mottershead says his mental health has got so bad he’s had to leave the Facebook groups campaigning for change on the issue.
And he’s is far from alone. A total of 7.5million migrants live in Australia.
Then there are hundred of thousands more people in Australia on working visas.
Mr Mottershead says if there’s no positive news soon, he faces making tough decisions to uproot his family for the UK, even though they’ve just bought a house in Sydney.
England was one of the worst-hit countries for coronavirus but there is hope: Thirty-three million people have been fully vaccinated and the death toll has dropped dramatically.
He believes Australia’s focus on maintaining zero virus cases means there’s little hope of reopening borders.
“Obviously, I totally understand and appreciate the good work they’ve done in keeping everybody safe, I’ll never complain… I think though we’re at a point though where we’ve overmanaged this,” he said.
“I feel there’s no end goal.
“You get empathy from very few people. I say ‘I don’t want to go on a holiday.”
New mum’s heartbreak over sick father
New mum Tamara Yousry, 42, from Perth, is preparing for the fact she may not see her father again.
He’s sick in hospital in Egypt, and while the permanent Australian resident, who is married to an Australian citizen, could probably get compassionate permission to go visit, she dare not go as she fears not being able to get a flight back.
She wouldn’t want to take baby Sharif, almost one, with her or leave him at home in Perth with husband, Shakir, either.
She said Australia should look to places such as Singapore, which are allowing expats’ parents to apply for permission to visit, as long as they take part in hotel quarantine.
“There are safe ways to do it,” she said.
“My father might not pull through. And I won’t see him again, and won’t be able to go to his funeral.
Home Affairs told 9News.com.au there are no current plans to change the system.
“The Government acknowledges the difficulties with respect to extended families seeking to reunite, however, there are currently no plans to include parents in the definition of immediate family for the purpose of travel exemptions,” a spokesperson said.
What are international travel rules?
Citizens and permanent residents have been locked in Australia since borders closed in 2020, in some of the toughest rules in the world.
The nation’s strict flight caps of around 6000 per week means planes are travelling almost empty, but getting on a flight without having a ticket cancelled by the airline is difficult, and can be expensive.
There’s also the mandatory, 14-day hotel quarantine, which costs around $3000 per person, or $5000 for a family.
Meanwhile, only Australian citizens and permanent residents can come into the country – along with immediate family members- spouses or de facto partners, dependent children, or legal guardians.
Contact journalist Sarah Swain: Sswain@nine.com.au