Parents relieved as exemption allows some kids in India to return to Australia – but worry remains

Soon to be reunited, father Sheersh Srivastava plans to travel to India to collect his two-and-a-half-year-old son Kiyan and bring him back to Australia.

I feel very relieved because there is hope that we will all meet soon.

That action is only being made possible after the federal government expanded its list of exemptions for travel to include accompanying a child back home to Australia. The decision announced a week ago relaxes the restrictions imposed by the National Cabinet on 22 April when travel was banned to India because “travel to high-risk COVID-19 countries presents a severe health risk to the Australian community.

Mr. Srivastava’s applications for an exemption were rejected three times before he was successful on the fourth attempt. But the situation gained a new sense of urgency when Mr. Srivastava’s mother – and his son’s primary carer – shared the news of her cancer diagnosis on 21 May. Two-and-a-half-year-old Kiyan is being brought back to Australia by his father after an exemption was granted.

The circumstances were such that Kiyan had to accompany Mr. Srivastava’s mother to the hospital as she received her chemotherapy treatment. “It has been a double blow for me because I am very upset about my mum’s health, and also, now I have to bring Kiyan back as soon as possible,” Mr. Srivastava said.


Tickets with Qatar Airways have been booked, but the cap on international arrivals in Australia means that Mr. Srivastava’s wife, Shilpa Bhatnagar, hopes there are no last-minute cancellations. “I’m happy but also stressed. Until my son returns, I don’t think I will be happy wholeheartedly. “I hope that everything will be back to normal – and my family will be back together as soon as possible.”‘ After being granted an exemption, Father Dinesh Dhanraj also hopes to be reunited with his child – 10-year-old Advaiith Dinesh -. Travel restrictions disrupted plans to have Advaiith return to Australia in May 2020 and March 2020.

Mr. Dhanraj’s mother will be accompanying Advaiith to Australia.

Mr. Dhanraj said finalizing the flight details has been nerve-wracking after the tickets on a repatriation flight sold out in 10 minutes. “I was, unfortunately, driving when that email came through. So I didn’t see it until 10 or 15 minutes after. And I couldn’t book my seats immediately because I saw these error messages saying they were already booked out.” He then spent two hours refreshing his computer screen before securing two seats for 22 June.

It was a traumatic experience trying to book those seats…

He said better communication between government departments and the airlines involved in the repatriation flights would ease anxiety levels. Suppose you’re saying that these children are to be given priority; why not restrict the emails to go to people who have gone through your process – and you’ve established that they are vulnerable? In that case, they have someone accompanying them, and they have got approved exemptions and visas. That process still needs clarity and coordination.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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