Border nightmare sees single dad separated from son

 

 

A SINGLE dad says he was separated from his eight-year-old son for days and slept in his car after he made an honest mistake crossing the border.

Mick Dunn said he was worried he would be forced to hand his boy to the Department of Child Safety temporarily, but he locked in a last-minute sitter.

While he lingered around the border, Mr Dunn says he ran into a range of other people sleeping in vehicles or stuck in the area due to their own troubles with the bubble.

Mick Dunn found himself stuck over the border in NSW and separated from his eight-year-old son. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Mick Dunn found himself stuck over the border in NSW and separated from his eight-year-old son. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Mr Dunn, who makes batteries for a living, travelled from his home in Brisbane last Wednesday to appear as a witness in a real estate matter in Tweed Heads Local Court.

He said he crossed into Tweed after a border pass was filled out, but found himself trapped behind the Queensland-NSW border blockade.

"A border pass was printed out. I went down thinking I'd be OK, I've crossed the border a few times previously. But the rules change so often.

"We finished at the court case, I went to cross the border and they said I had the wrong border pass. I understood and I asked them what I had to do to get over the border.

"They said I couldn't, you can't go home."

Mr Dunn said because he lived in Brisbane and travelled to Tweed he fell foul of the bubble.

The bubble extends north to the top of the Gold Coast and south to the edge of Tweed Shire.

Police direct traffic at the Queensland border in Coolangatta. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Police direct traffic at the Queensland border in Coolangatta. Picture: Nigel Hallett

"I was stuck over the border from the Wednesday to the Friday and I figured out how to come back on the Saturday," he said.

"I'm the only parent my eight-year-old son has. So he was left without a parent while I was stuck. I phoned up DOCS to see what my options were with them, I didn't know what was going to happen. I applied for an exemption and they said they were going to get back to me.

"There's actually quite a number of people on the Queensland-NSW border sleeping in their cars. So I ran into them and one of them said he put a similar exemption or application in, they said they would look at it as soon as possible and it had been 10 days.

"It was at that point I went 'oh, they're saying they're doing it as quickly as they can - but they're not even looking at it'."

Mr Dunn said he finally managed to pass through the border late on Saturday - just before Father's Day - after switching his listed residence to a friend's Pimpama address, where he has stayed.

He said the ordeal at the border "drove me to the edge".

Mick Dunn found himself stuck over the border in NSW and separated from his eight-year-old son. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Mick Dunn found himself stuck over the border in NSW and separated from his eight-year-old son. Picture: Glenn Hampson


"My son was confused. I found a friend who knows him quite well thankfully. She went and picked him up and he stayed with her for a few days," he said.

"The whole thing was very emotionally draining for him and me.

"There's less risk of me bringing (COVID-19) back from Tweed than bringing it down."

Mr Dunn described himself as "normally a Labor voter", but he believed the ongoing blockade was "purely to win some marginal seats in north and western Queensland ahead of the election".

"There needs to be more compassion. People need to be looking at these cases. How come there's not people making these decisions (quickly) to let people who need them get an exemption?

"My poor son would have ended up in state care if I didn't have someone to pick him up."

In response, a Queensland Health spokesperson said: "Our border restrictions are designed for one purpose - to keep Queenslanders safe.

"The media and the community has done a great job raising awareness that Queensland's borders are closed, except in rare circumstances.

"There are provisions in the border restrictions direction for those assisting with a state or Commonwealth law enforcement investigation.

"You will need to obtain a Queensland Border Declaration Pass to cross the border even if you are a returning Queenslander."

It was recommended the public check the Queensland Health website before every journey to make sure they were aware of all updates and requirements.

Originally published as Border nightmare sees single dad separated from son