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Prisoner Island: Our forsaken stranded Australians

This is not a new film by George Miller, it's the reality for an Australian couple - the 2020 version of what it means to be Australian. We are an advanced country held up by the prosperity of our innovation, science and agriculture. But, when it comes to bringing their citizens home, our institutions, with all their bureaucracy and procedures, have forgotten about humanity.

At least 30,000 individuals are stuck somewhere in the mad scramble of a journey back to Australia. Advocate Me spoke with its client, a couple, in relation to their inability to return home to Australia during the State of Emergency. The impact statement provided was long, detailed and compelling and for these reasons we have gained their approval to share their story to raise awareness. We as Australians can get a better picture of the situation by listening and sharing our stories with others and Advocate Me is all ears.

The couple are Australian citizens born in Australia. Married in the 1970s, they went to school, university and worked in Australia. When their children were grown they decided to travel the world and live abroad, planning to return home in October 2020, to enjoy time with their grandchildren.

However, 2020 is a year like no other and when we asked them to describe how they see the situation, this is what they had to say. “With the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus, Governments around the world including Australia, willfully and intentionally set about destroying their own economies and the lives and livelihoods of many of their citizens, by enforcing lockdowns of varying degrees and borrowing enormous amounts of money to support the millions of people forced from their jobs."

"Apart from witnessing the chaos and devastation where we are living, like many, we watch in horror and dismay at what is happening to Australia."

"We read the agonising report of a young pregnant woman living in northern NSW needing urgent medical help, losing one of her unborn twin babies because the Queensland government would not allow her to attend a large Brisbane hospital, far closer than a correspondingly large hospital in Sydney. This is just one of a number of similar tragic incidents, caused by the rigid intransigence of state officials, based on dubious reasons."

"The federation appears to be reverting to colonial provincialism where Australians living on opposite sides of an imaginary line drawn on a map in the nineteenth century, all of a sudden appeared to become opposing tribes in an “us versus them” battle for survival."

"The other distressing sight was the rapid descent of a population into a state of fear and into a virtual police state, especially in Victoria.” Through the first half of 2020, the couple, like many other people thought the situation couldn’t possibly persist, but it has and in Victoria it has worsened.

”It appears that Australia essentially turned itself into a prisoner island, not allowing anyone to leave and only allowing small numbers of citizens and permanent residents into the country. “

“We have found it very difficult to fly back to Australia where only small numbers of people are returning. For airlines, the result of not being able to carry many passengers means it is uneconomical to carry economy class passengers back home. It is virtually impossible to book a flight to Australia, unless you have the funds to purchase a business class ticket at around $12,000. “

“It’s so grossly unjust” was their comment when asked how the limits placed on Australian citizens returning home are, especially knowing the airline restraints have forced up the cost making it unattainable for most, then to be forced to pay up to $4000 in quarantine on top. All in the name of easing the tax burden on the State. As they have been honest, hardworking, tax paying citizens for a combined 80 years, it is easy to see how they feel forsaken at this critical time.

Those who do manage to return are required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for a period of two weeks. How can locking healthy people in a room without fresh air, with only one hour supervised outdoor breaks daily and packaged food with highly questionable nutritional value for 2 weeks provide any health benefits? Then add stress to that and it seems more likely to increase the risk of infection through a lowered immune system.

“Our mental health has severely deteriorated and we have anxiety and depression as a result of these terrible restrictions preventing us from making plans to return. We must give notice to my employer, give notice to vacate a flat, sell furniture and a car and ship some goods to Australia. To do this requires certainty, which at the moment does not exist.”

"If the government is determined to isolate returning citizens, it has a duty of care and responsibility to do no harm."

These Australians feel that the Government has violated all notions of duty of care,

“If celebrities and AFL footballers and all their hangers on can be allowed to quarantine in their own homes, or salubrious surroundings of their choice, why can’t everybody else be shown some respect and be allowed to move into their own accommodation and take responsibility for their own actions?”

If you’ve found yourself in a similar mix-up, we urge you to join the class action at

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1 Comment

Brett Wilson
Brett Wilson
Jan 28, 2021

ICCPR Article 12 states:

  • Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

  • Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.

The right to freedom of movement within a country, which includes the right to choose where to live within the country

People must be able to move freely and choose a place of residence within a country without restrictions, including establishing a purpose or reason for doing so. The only allowable restrictions are those mentioned in article 12(3) (see further detail below). Governments have a duty to ensure that a person's freedom of movement is not unduly restricted by others,…

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