'We haven’t seen our son in four months'
IT WAS meant to be a simple three week holiday to Thailand but it turned into a holiday horror as Tim and Nui Gordon's son Oscar could not return to Australia for four months.
Oscar Gordon, 5, took a trip to Thailand with his grandma, Pintong Kaennakham, who needed to leave Australia as part of her visa requirements before returning.
However, the coronavirus pandemic closed the borders and stopped Oscar and Ms Kaennakham from returning.
"They were gone about three weeks and then the visa was granted so we booked them on a flight that weekend to come home - I think the visa was issued on the Wednesday, the borders closed on the Friday and they were due to fly on the Saturday," Mr Gordon said
"Then we found out we had to make an application through Home Affairs to see if she could return because Oscar is a citizen but she had to be approved and they said no, they didn't give any answer why," Mr Gordon said.
The Goonellabah residents applied to have Ms Kaennakham approved to return given she was the guardian of Oscar while in Thailand but were again denied.
"It's been a really hollow feeling everyday, going home to an empty house and seeing Oscar's things there," Mr Gordon said.
"Nui was crying every night and she's been having nightmares for over a month now," Mr Gordon said.
Desperate to find a solution, Mr and Mrs Gordon contacted Page MP Kevin Hogan who bought the issue to Peter Dutton, Federal Minister Home Affairs.
"I immediately contacted the minister and asked for the case to considered and expedited," Mr Hogan said in a statement.
"Following the initial response from the minister's office, I requested this be looked at again this week," Mr Hogan said.
'No exemptions' was the response at the time but Home Affairs have recently approved Oscar and Ms Kaennakham's return to Australia.
A spokesperson for the Australian Border Force today said the department does not comment on individual cases.
However, they said relatives, such as a grandparent, seeking to travel with an Australian child are exempt providing they submit sufficient supporting evidence.
They said information on travel exemptions, including the reasons an exemption may be granted and the supporting documentation required, is available on the Home Affairs website.
Oscar is set to return to Australia with his grandma in the coming weeks, however, now Mr and Mrs Gordon have been told their entry should have been approved months ago.
"When this bloke from home affairs rang me yesterday and he said 'I am looking at the file and looking at the original application and I can see based on other information in our system … we had enough information in our system four months ago that we should've approved this four months ago'", Mr Gordon said.
"We obviously jubilated and happy that Oscar is coming home … but at the same time four months is gone and it didn't have to be like this," Mr Gordon said.
With their ordeal close to being over, they are excited to return to normal family life with Oscar back by their side.