Dear Premier: Why are we abandoned?

 

Students who board at Queensland schools but live in rural NSW have, along with their parents, written of their "unimaginable heartache and anguish" due to Queensland's tough border restrictions which prevent them from seeing family.

Here, they tell Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk it feels like "a cruel kick in the guts" and why they fear for the mental health of those affected.

Below are snippets from a selection of dozens of heartbreaking letters seen by The Courier-Mail:

"Since the closure of the border and the separation from my family, my mental health has declined significantly, with many tearful phone calls being made back home to my parents begging them to do anything to just come and see me."

Matilda (student)

 

"Why are we left abandoned? Why are we forgotten? What if we don't have anywhere to stay during the holiday period? What if I don't see my parents for another four months? There are so many questions, but never any answers."

16-year-old boarding student

 

18-year-old Rose Mayne from St Hilda's Southport (centre) with brothers William (age 16) and Lachlan (age 14) from The Southport School. Their mother Wendy described the boarding situation with the closed border as “gut-wrenching”. Picture: Richard Walker
18-year-old Rose Mayne from St Hilda's Southport (centre) with brothers William (age 16) and Lachlan (age 14) from The Southport School. Their mother Wendy described the boarding situation with the closed border as “gut-wrenching”. Picture: Richard Walker

 

"We live 127km from the border. Our closest COVID-19 case is in Queensland. We are asking you and Dr Jeannette Young the Queensland Health Officer to support our plight and the plight of other NSW families who are at a very low risk of COVID-19 exposure, to allow our children to come home for holidays and return to school in Term 4 without the need to enter quarantine."

Pamella and Barney O'Neill

 

"Imagine being 12 years old and not being able to see or hug your parents for months. It is a heartbreaking experience to send your kids away to further their education at boarding school. You know it's ultimately in their best interests to enable them to a good education to help support their future, but the tears always come when you say goodbye. Always there is the comfort they will be home for holidays, now that simple comfort is denied."

Rob and Annie Donoghue

 

"Think of families who are experiencing unimaginable heartache and anguish due to the hard border closure which is separating them from their children in QLD boarding schools."

Alex Wilson

 

"Restricting interstate children at QLD boarding schools from crossing the Queensland border to reach their families due to COVID-19 is a "cruel kick in the guts" for our fellow regional interstate Aussies."

Jo Harris

 

"The impacts of COVID-19 Government policy on the cohort of NSW rural children who attend boarding school in Queensland is appalling. All attempts by parents, friends and schools to advocate for these children and their families in relation to quarantine requirements have fallen on completely deaf ears."

Lucy Lilienstein

 

"We just want, what I apparently mistakenly believed was a basic parent right, to see our children during the term and for them to return home for the holidays and go straight back to school. We do not intend to expose them to any COVID hot spots, we live on a remote farm where during the holidays they are lucky to even see the neighbours."

Kim Powell

 

"I'm writing to you to express my frustration and overwhelming feeling of helplessness … you are dividing families and causing significant mental harm to children. We have NO cases of COVID in our area, NO neighbours for miles. Surely our risk to Queenslanders is extremely low."

Alice Ramsay

 

 

"We are feeling very anxious and disheartened with the QLD border closure not allowing us access to see our children and the option of having our youngest home for the upcoming school holidays on 17th September as there is no quarantine exemption on her return to Qld. We have endured a lot of adversity, stress and hardship over the last 3 years with the drought and now the emotional rollercoaster of being unable to be with our children is unprecedented and seems illogical."

Ros and Cameron Williams.

 

"Our family home is 95km south of the Queensland Border, in an area with no COVID-19 cases, our 14 year old son is at school in Toowoomba and we have no family in Queensland to support us. We have missed many aspects of our son's schooling due to these movement restrictions, but most importantly we miss him and he misses us … this process has been extremely upsetting and a constant worry in our minds. Please don't let this be political, make it about family and community."

Michael Spencer

 

"I feel there is a huge part of the population that just doesn't understand what is happening to our families with children in boarding school right now."

Susan Carrigan

 

"After our QLD boarding school students that reside in NSW return from the upcoming school holidays the latest directive from the government is they will have to quarantine in their rooms for two weeks. I can only imagine how horrific the thought of sending your own child aged from 12 years back to school to isolate must be. The mental implications for this are terrifying."

Liesl Walker

 

"My concern is the mental health impact this will have on the hundreds of children unable to see their parents who live over the border, outside the bubble, in NSW (where there have been NO cases of COVID-19). Families have been dislocated for months so one parent can have guaranteed access to their children if required without a two week quarantine period. The financial and emotional impact on families after several years of drought, it's a recipe for disaster."

Sarah Malone

 

"With the school holidays fast approaching we are unsure of what to do. If we leave our children at school over the holidays it will be months before we are able to see them. Our youngest is only in year 7 and about to turn 13, it breaks our heart that we can't be with her to celebrate her birthday. We understand the need for tighter border restrictions but are just asking for some compassionate exemptions. Where we live is isolated with no COVID cases, our children are still so young and despite having amazing support from their schools they still need their Mum and Dad."

Angus and Kristine Grant

 

"I have seen many girls at my school in tears. Can you remember being this age? Could you have imagined being told that you were not allowed to see your family and not knowing when you would see them again?"

Rose Malone (student)

 

"My heart is hurting and breaking into two, my stomach churns and I am having sleepless nights worrying about the wellbeing of my precious children. Although coping quite well, underneath they are in turmoil not knowing whether they will be coming home for these holidays, nor when we will see each other again."

Mum of four

 

"COVID-19 is a very scary virus. However, we are more scared at the moment of not being able to see our family for a very long time. We actually do not know when we will see them next. When can I count the days down on my calendar, like I always do, to be picked up and taken home? Enjoy our mum's cooking, kick a footy with dad, play cards. We live at least 700km from any COVID-19 hot spots. Please let us go home for holidays and return to school with no quarantine."

Ruby (student)

 

"As a mother it's terrible, it's gut-wrenching and I think the mental health of the children would be a big issue and it's something maybe they have overlooked. It will be a problem for these children if they can't go home."

Wendy Mayne

 

 

Originally published as Dear Premier: Why are we abandoned?

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