Coronavirus frontline worker separated from her children by tough Queensland border ban for Victorians

Meeya Wright has been separated from her five children for 17 weeks. Source: Supplied.

An emergency department nurse in Melbourne has told SBS News of the pain of being separated from her five children for over 17 weeks, with no end in sight.

When hospital emergency department nurse Meeya Wright took a job down in Melbourne in January she thought her five children would soon join her.

She never imagined that they would end up separated for months on end by a global pandemic and tough border closures.

She says the pain of being separated from her five children, aged five to 14 is taking its toll.

“It’s really difficult working constantly on the frontlines, not having my children around and now not being able to go up and see them because of it. It is a mental drain,” she told SBS News.

Queensland reopened its borders on Friday to everyone except Victorians or anyone who had been in Victoria in the last 14 days.

On Tuesday morning the Queensland government added two suburban areas of Sydney as designated “hot spots” to stop travellers from those areas entering the state.

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski says they have intercepted 17,000 vehicles at the border, turning around more than 500 vehicles with 850 people since Friday.

Nearly 500,000 border pass documents had been downloaded.

“We’ve processed over 10,700 people through domestic airports since Friday and refused entry to nine people,” he said.

“We are still seeing people trying to get into Queensland when they are not entitled to."

Among those turned around were six Victorians who were fined $24,000 for trying to enter the state with a false border declaration on the Gold Coast on the weekend.

Meeya Wright is living in Melbourne but doesn't know when she will be able to see her kids in Queensland.
Meeya Wright is living in Melbourne but doesn't know when she will be able to see her kids in Queensland.
Supplied.

Ms Wright said she understood the need for restrictions but that didn’t help ease the pain.

“It’s very hard, I was a stay-at-home mum when they were little, then going to this where I haven’t seen them in 17 weeks, I haven’t done mum things in 17 weeks. I am missing a huge chunk of their lives,” she said.

Ms Wright has applied to the Queensland state government for a border exemption, but it is unclear whether she will qualify for one.

In a statement to SBS News a Queensland Health spokesperson said “we understand being separated from loved ones is an extremely difficult circumstance to be in”.

“These are difficult decisions and we want to assure Queenslanders that every exemption application is considered with their safety in mind,” the spokesperson said.  

The statement went on to outline three limited categories where those who had been in a designated hotspot area could enter the state.

They included Queensland residents returning home, essential activity and other limited categories, including assisting law enforcement, defence personnel on active duty and other limited categories.

Ms Wright says the pain of being separated is only intensified by not knowing when the ordeal will end.

“They are missing their mum, like heaps. Kids need their mum and they miss their mum,” she said.

 People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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