Families denied access to loved ones by the hard international border want the Morrison government to change the rules.
The current definition of “immediate family” is being challenged by a petition to federal parliament on Tuesday as Australians seek to be reunited with parents, and so babies can meet grandparents.
Signed by more than 70,000 people in just four weeks, the petition is being presented by independent MP Zali Steggall and Greens senator Nick McKim on behalf of the advocacy group Parents Are Immediate Family.
“It’s been really hard,” audiologist Sophie Robinson, with baby daughter Lucy, told reporters in Canberra.
She moved to Australia three years ago and wants to return to work as an essential healthcare worker.
“But without any help or support from my family that’s just impossible,” she said.
Ms Steggall said her office is being inundated with desperate calls for help, particularly from new mothers whose parents are unable to come into Australia to assist them.
“These women, these babies need to understand what the long term plan for Australia is,” she said.
Reunification with family should be considered a compelling and compassionate reason to travel, according to the formal plea to politicians.
The petition calls on the government to add parents as an exemption category after all the medical and quarantine requirements are met, and if exemptions cannot be obtained for parents coming to Australia to allow an exemption for people with family overseas to travel to see them.
PAIF spokesperson Kateryna Dmytriyeva has tried five times for permission to allow her mother to travel back to Australia from Ukraine.
She slammed the “obscene lack of compassion from the Australian government”.
Australia’s border closed in March 2020 as an emergency measure.
Ms Robinson is thinking about moving back to the United Kingdom, which she had never considered before the pandemic.
Ms Steggall fears a broader brain drain, as one third of Australians are born overseas.
“At the moment we have a void of ambition, and you do not win the race with a void of ambition,” the former Olympian said.