Thousands of SA Residents Trapped Interstate - When can we come home?

Thousands of SA Residents Trapped Interstate - When can we come home?

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Debbie Wood started this petition to Stephen Wade MLC and

Thousands of South Australian residents are stranded interstate, including children and elderly people with health issues, due to the delays in the processing involved with the new SA Health Exemption system being utilised.

Many have been waiting up to 12 weeks for a response to come home. Many are homeless, living in hotels, or worse, their car, and many are losing jobs and or wages during this waiting period. Children have been unable to return home to their parents and attend school.

Throughout 2020 and early 2021, when SA borders were closed during times of high COVID numbers interstate, South Australians were able to apply for a border pass, which only required a short wait time. This was also open to other state’s residents for work, attending end-of-life visits, etc. Applicants were required to isolate for 14 days during this time. Special circumstances were dealt with promptly.

Now, a new system. The SA Health Exemption application at:

The SA Health Exemption application requires you to list a reason for your application ie; SA resident returning from Regional NSW, the date you expect to be in SA, your locations of attendance for the last 14 days, your vaccination status, your current SA residence and license details, and any supporting documents i.e; medical doctor letters, sale of property, letter of acceptance for work.

The website states:

NSW/ACT arrivals to SA

“People relocating from NSW/ACT, returning SA residents from NSW/ACT and people fleeing domestic violence must also receive written approval from SA Health before travel.”

What happens next

“SA Health will prioritise urgent requests wherever possible and this can be indicated in your application. It may take up to 14 days for your application to be processed.

You will be notified of the outcome by email. (Remember to check your junk mail folder).

If approved, you will then need to submit your SAPOL Cross Border Travel Registration using your SA Health Travel Exemption approval.”

No reference is made on the website regarding returning from Victoria, this direction comes from the SA Police, Cross Border Travel permit website.

Here we are told that:

“Note:  Some travellers must apply for an exemption from SA Health which may approve travel to South Australia. Applications should be made through the Health Exemptions page.

Applications for Cross Border Travel Registration without SA Health approval will automatically result in a declined application.”

At the time of this petition being started on 9 September 2021, the SA Health Exemption website was updated on 1 September 2021. The writer of this petition applied to SA Health on 4 August 2021. Certainly more than 14 days. No updates have been made to adjust the expectation of turnaround time on applications, leaving thousands in the dark about when they will get home.

I am currently on the Mid North Coast of NSW and have been waiting 5 weeks to hear anything, having already resubmitted my application, when a new portal was initiated 3 weeks into my first application. I have been away from my family for 7 weeks having rushed to my father who was having emergency surgery back in July.

The SA Health Facebook page is full of enquiring South Australians asking for a time frame on their application. No response is coming from SA Health to assist in relieving the stress involved. The Facebook page is obviously being monitored, as there are responses to other questions, just none involving the SA Health Exemption to cross the border.

Enquiries made to the SA COVID-19 Information Line are to no avail, as they have very little information provided to them. They will direct you to “The Portal” which is supposed to tell you where your application is currently standing, but this portal does not exist. They are not able to access any information in regard to your application.

Enquiries to the SA Health Ombudsman are futile as well.

Basically, there is no one that you can contact once you have submitted your application to check how long this process will take. You will be unable to make any future plans, not inform your workplace of a return date, not organise any removalists, if you're not already without your furniture, not inform your family when you will return, not make an important doctors appointment, not tell your child when they can return home to their own home.

Whilst it is noted that the current Delta variant of COVID-19 is obviously more virulent than the previous variants, it is also noted that many of the applicants, whilst in high COVID number states, are in areas that have low or no case numbers. From a SA Health perspective, this information can be gathered from the first question on the application, as well as the locations visited during the prior 14 days. NSW, VIC and the ACT have been in lengthy lockdowns, with mandatory check-ins and mask wearing since July 2021.

All returning applicants are required to isolate for 14 days and be tested 3 times during this period and would be aware that returning a positive test would require further isolation.

Not only has this drawn-out process of applications left South Australian residents financially challenged, homeless, jobless and under severe mental and emotional duress, it has also left thousands exposed to the Delta variant. Whilst we sit waiting, we are at greater risk of being exposed as cases continue to rise in the eastern states.

Yes, whilst SA is currently trying to protect its residents with border closures, it’s not protecting all of them. If this current system continues to delay, SA residents will begin dying interstate, purely from an inadequate system that SA Health has turned a blind eye to. If more staff are required, then they should be employed immediately to deal with the situation. Other businesses would enlist temporary workers or workers from other departments to assist with demand. During pressing times in 2020, help was enlisted from other states as required. Even a return to the previous system would surely see SA residents returned home more promptly.

Our elected officials are just that. Elected, and there to represent and protect the South Australian public. At this stage, that is not happening to the best of the State’s ability.

This information will be forwarded to all news and media outlets, along with all the electorates of South Australia.

I ask that you add your support to this petition to let our State Government know that is not acceptable that our state’s residents should be restricted and held in duress any longer. The current system needs to be quickly dealt with or scrapped and our SA families allowed to come home.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!