Aussie family moving to the UK after countless failed travel exemption attempts

NO OTHER OPTION: Jen Bakes and husband Shannon are leaving Wynyard in order to be reunited with family. Picture: Brodie Weeding
NO OTHER OPTION: Jen Bakes and husband Shannon are leaving Wynyard in order to be reunited with family. Picture: Brodie Weeding

There are few things Jen Bakes wants more than to give her mum a hug.

However, with her parents over in the UK, getting them into Australia just feels impossible.

Instead, after almost 18 months of emotional drain and seven rejected attempts at getting a compassionate travel exemption, she and her family are selling their business, selling their house, and moving their three children over to the UK.

"It's just been really, really challenging," Mrs Bakes said.

FOR SALE: The Bakes are selling their home and their business to make the move over to the UK. Picture: Brodie Weeding

FOR SALE: The Bakes are selling their home and their business to make the move over to the UK. Picture: Brodie Weeding

"It's taken a real toll on my mental health. It's just left us with very little help and support. "

Mrs Bakes gave birth to twins in May of 2020, and also has a six-year-old. She runs a beauty salon in Tasmania's north west, while her husband does maintenance work, which keeps both of them flat-out.

Her mother originally had flights booked for April last year, with a visa that was valid for another six months.

Those flights were cancelled, and the visa expired. She applied for a new one in December - but that application, eight months later, is still 'processing'.

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Without a valid visa, there is no ability for her to complete a new compassionate travel application, leaving her in a stalemate.

"We've provided doctors notes, showing maternal exhaustion, mental health issues," Mrs Bakes said.

It's taken a real toll on my mental health.

Jen Bakes

They've also worked with multiple local government representatives, with each attempt leaving them no closer to a family reunion.

"It's really hard to take when you're watching sports people and movie stars willingly let in.

"It's really gut-wrenching. They don't have their priorities right.

"I understand that there would be god-knows how many applications coming in, and you can't expect an individual response every time, but there are no guidelines anywhere where you can understand why it's (being denied)," Mrs Bakes said.

So, after 14 years, it's time to say farewell to the Tasmanian coast.

"I know there's still a lot of Australians stuck overseas, and I feel for them because they're in the some situation as us.

"It's just not right."

Fellow expat Angela Malis, a good friend of Mrs Bakes, said she can understand why the family have made this choice.

MISSING FAMILY: Allan Sharman and wife Angela Malis are hoping to be reunited with Mrs Malis' parents later this year, with the distance incredibly hard to face. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

MISSING FAMILY: Allan Sharman and wife Angela Malis are hoping to be reunited with Mrs Malis' parents later this year, with the distance incredibly hard to face. Picture: Simon Sturzaker

With her relatives in Canada, she's praying her parents will be able to get a travel exemption for her parents to visit later this year.

"My family has not been able to watch my children grow up," Mrs Malis said.

"This morning, my son said 'are grandma and grandpa real in Canada?'

"They're just looking at a screen, you know?"

"I'm trying to be patient. When I got told by my employer that I could get vaccinated I burst into tears," she said.

This morning, my son said 'are grandma and grandpa real in Canada?

Angela Malis

"I drove 100 kilometres to Launceston, because that was the first appointment available."

"It's just one step closer."

Under current border restrictions, the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an exemption for people seeking to travel for compassionate and compelling reasons.

Under this, immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempt from travel restrictions. However, parents of legal adults don't classify as 'immediate' relatives.

A spokesperson for the ABF said this condition was unlikely to change.

"The government acknowledges the difficulties with respect to extended families seeking to reunite," they said.

"As at June 30, 2021, the Department of Home Affairs has on-hand approximately 99,000 permanent and temporary Parent visa applications lodged from outside of Australia, which indicates the size of this cohort," they said.

"A cohort of this size cannot be accommodated within the current quarantine caps."

This story Aussie family to make 'gut-wrenching' move to the UK first appeared on The Advocate.