Where and When did Australia lose its diverse and inclusive nature?

Has something changed in the past year and a half?

AUSTRALIA- A land of opportunities?

In 2018, when I first moved to Australia, everything seemed so fresh. I was the new girl in the city and enjoyed the tiniest of detail present in the country. From enjoying the lighted city during the White night to working at Nandos serving “seriously large chips” to the Aussie population, I felt extremely welcomed in the country.

Every day was a new opportunity for me with being able to meet tens of hundreds of people belonging to several cultures. Learning French from a European friend at University and volunteering at engineering clubs were the highlight of my Uni life. Not to forget the free beer and food every Tuesday at my Uni’s UMSU social event.

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Within months of arriving in the country, I landed my first professional job. I was employed as an undergraduate structural engineer with Aurecon, one of the A-tier engineering consultancy firms in the country.

Upon graduation, I was promoted to become a Structural engineer within the same company, further rose in my career as a consultant and it’s been almost 3 years with Aurecon, and I can say I have worked with an amazing portfolio of clients including State Governments. I was beginning to enjoy the diversity within the country and the inclusiveness of the people here.

Reshma Azhakiya Namby, Advocate of Migrants’ rights; Picture Source: Supplied

Bam! Then came the international border closure and Australia’s fortress attitude

But what has changed in the past year and a half?  Literally, NOTHING!

Pressing the pause button to life for a period as long as 16 months isn’t fair. Now, by definition, Life means different things to different people.
To an average Aussie, having a cuppa and burger from Maccas and enjoying a nice surf at the Bay could be what Life is.

But the truth is and what I have witnessed personally is that there is no “average Aussie”. Every Australian resident always strives to excel, excel in anything and everything we do. And that my friends, is the reason why I do not want to settle for anything less.

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Reshma Azhakiya Namby, Advocate of Migrants’ rights; Picture Source: Supplied

As an Australian resident, I deserve to live LIFE without having to press that pause button. If John Smith from the United Kingdom, where a total of 4,990,916 COVID19 cases and 128,301 fatalities due to the virus have been recorded to date, can have an inter-country tour to visit a dying mother or celebrate a sibling’s wedding, then why can’t I?

If Deepak Mehra from India, where a total of 30,709,557 COVID19 cases and 405,028 fatalities due to the virus have been recorded to date, can relocate to Germany, Singapore, the USA or the UK for international education, then why can’t the same person relocate to Australia?

Oh wait, I keep forgetting Australia has a “fortress attitude”.

Reshma Azhakiya Namby, Advocate of Migrants’ rights; Picture Source: Supplied

If Rosa Linda, who has been studying and working in Canada for the past 3 years, could secure her permanent visa within the country amidst the pandemic because the Justin Trudeau government decides to continue their efficiency even during the pandemic and keep their economy and thereby their migration program live, then why can’t the Scomo government do the same?

And yet I have to live in Australia, facing mini lockdowns now and then, claiming it to be way better than enjoying the freedom of movement which is now only a luxury for the rest of the world but Australian residents.

Now comes the part where Australia level up the discrimination game

On 1st May 2021, I came across a news article that elaborated on the decision of the Scomo government to ban entry of Australian residents and citizens from India due to the country facing a rise in the detrimental Delta variant COVID19 cases.

Reshma Azhakiya Namby, Advocate of Migrants’ rights; Picture Source: Supplied

I thought to myself it wasn’t the best decision or the solution, however, I had to empathise with the government at some level, right? Of course, because Australia is also home to me. I decided to stand by the government’s decision and observe how it has improved Australia’s situation.

Although there were several outbreaks and mini lockdowns within the country due to a very poor quarantine system, Australia did manage to keep the disease well under control.

Now, on 15th May 2021, the ban was lifted, (yay time for celebration? Well, not yet) and India was rated as a “high-risk category” country.

At this stage, no outbound or inbound travel exemption requests were being accepted from India. On the 7th of June, India was removed from the “high-risk category” and introduced certain criteria for accepting exemption requests. Still, exemption requests were not being processed for travel to or from the country.

“As per the ABF’s criteria on the Department of Home Affairs’ website for those seeking travel to India, visiting a close family member who is critically ill is on the list. Despite that, my requests to visit my dying mother have been rejected,” says Brisbane resident Mr Amit Jaura.

“Not once, but six times denied.”

Also noting here that Mr Jaura is not alone. Since then up until today, there has been no change to the conditions on the Department’s website.

Indian Australians at Airport, PictureSource: Twitter @RameshDutta
Indian Australians at Airport, PictureSource: Twitter @RameshDutta

I understand the fear over a variant of concerns here and I re-emphasise that I totally empathise with the government in this regard. But despite these strict measures, three Australian states went into a snap lockdown fearing the spread of delta variant in the Australian community, which got “leaked” from what is now called “the worst quarantine system” in the world. That part, I really don’t understand?

Now, to provide some context and the scenario regarding the COVID surge in India and around the world, I did some research. COVID cases in India is continuously reducing now. India has around 40k cases per day and less than 500 deaths per day, which is far lesser than two months ago when the cases within the country stood at 500,000 per day.

The current rate of vaccination within the country is very high, with almost 5,000,000 doses being administered daily. The recovery rate within the country is at 96.7%. I am forced to compare these numbers with a developed economy like the United Kingdom for instance.

There is 25k plus cases per day in the UK and 92% delta variants. And cases per population in the UK is 8 times more than in India. Yet I don’t see a column or a separate heading on the Australian Border Force webpage saying, “Exemption request for travel to and from the UK”.

Author: Reshma Azhakiya Namby is an Advocate of Migrants’ rights. She works as a Consultant, at Infrastructure Advisory at Aurecon

Disclaimer: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The opinions and facts are presented solely by her, and neither The Australia Today News nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.