EXCLUSIVE: The heartlessness of Australia’s border shutdown: How a childcare worker may never see her dying mother again because health bureaucrats are refusing to let her cross into NSW
- Rebecca Tunny has waited almost two weeks to learn if she can cross into NSW
- Her mum Shirley has been diagnosed with a terminal illness with not long to live
- Mean bureaucrats have refused to respond to her application to cross the river
- Shirley Tunny has been a patient just across the Victorian border in Albury
- She is due to be discharged to her home Deniliquin near Echuca in Victoria
A Victorian woman fears her terminally ill mum will die before mean-spirited bureaucrats in New South Wales grant her access to cross the border.
Rebecca Tunny has been tied-up in bureaucratic red tape for nearly two weeks as the clock ticks down on her mum Shirley’s life.
The daycare worker from Melbourne‘s eastern suburbs remains in limbo while awaiting a decision by NSW Health on her application to cross into NSW on compassionate grounds.
Her mum was expected to be released from Albury Base Hospital – just across the Victorian border – on Wednesday where she hoped to go into the care of her daughter.
Rebecca Tunny (right) with her mum Shirley who will be released to her home to die without her daughter by her side
Shirley Tunny is desperate to see her daughter as she clings onto the last weeks of her life
Shirley Tunny’s health declined after the death of her husband five years ago
Instead, Rebecca has been told she ought fly to Sydney where she can quarantine for 14 days before making her way back to the Victorian border to care for her dying mum.
Mrs Tunny’s husband – Rebecca’s dad – died five years ago, which deeply impacted her health and led to her terminal diagnoses.
On release, Mrs Tunny hoped to return to her home in Deniliquin – just north of the Victorian river town of Echuca – where she could spend her last days and weeks with her daughter.
Rebecca, who grew up in Deniliquin but has lived in Melbourne for 10 years, has been working in childcare and is clear of COVID-19.
On learning of her mother’s illness, Rebecca packed up all her belongings and organised a removal van to come and collect her possessions to return to NSW.
‘Now I’m just stuck here sleeping on my aunties couch and can’t get back home to care for my mum,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’ve been ringing the minister for health twice a day and my mum just calls me on the phone and it’s the most horrible thing.’
Rebecca said she had contemplated entering NSW illegally but was determined to do things by the book.
Shirley Tunny (right), Rebecca and her dad Chris in happier times
Rebecca Tunny (left) is desperate to cross the border to take care of her mum Shirley (right)
Shirley and Rebecca Tunny in happier times
‘I don’t want to be sneaking across the border but I just don’t understand why they haven’t approved it yet,’ she said.
Melbourne high profile criminal lawyer George Balot told Daily Mail Australia Rebecca’s treatment at the hands of the NSW state government was a disgrace.
‘This protracted bureaucratic delay in processing a genuine urgent travel approval application of an Australian child care worker with demonstrable extenuating circumstances, where she is attempting to provide palliative care for her terminally ill mother whose days are numbered, is in humane,’ he said.
‘Time is plainly of the essence in this case and the processing administrative delay is a travesty of justice. Unfortunately, the reality is that many Victorian holiday makers are clogging up the processing of travel permit applications with genuine merit.’
In recent months, trapped Victorians have watched helplessly as the likes of footballers and Hollywood movie stars have been granted immediate access into other states.
Rebecca claimed NSW bureaucrats had told her her application ‘did not appear urgent enough’.
‘They said being your mum’s carer isn’t enough,’ she said.
The delay has continued despite a doctor providing a letter to the NSW health department confirming Mrs Tunny was expected to die within a couple of months.
A letter from the doctor confirming Rebecca Tunny’s mum Shirley did not have long to live
A young Shirley Tunny and her husband Chris when they first met
Shirley Tunny has been kept at a hospital just across the Victorian border in Albury
‘I’ve been calling the health department non-stop and they put me on hold for half-an-hour and my phone cuts out and I have to start again,’ she said.
Rebecca said she had contacted police and government representatives in Deniliquin and now the media without success.
‘I’ve tried everyone. NSW Health told me if I wanted to try getting in through re-location I would have to drive to the airport, fly to Sydney, pay for two weeks of quarantine plus airfares and then somehow have to get back Deniliquin without my car,’ she said.
A NSW Health spokesman refused to discuss Mrs Tunny’s case when questioned by Daily Mail Australia.
‘The border restrictions with Victoria are a necessary measure to protect the health and wellbeing of the community due to the current risks of COVID-19 transmission,’ he stated.
‘NSW Health recognises that these restrictions can be challenging and is continually monitoring the situation and adjusting our response accordingly.
‘Information on eligibility and processes for permits is available via the Service NSW website. NSW Health does not comment on individual cases due to privacy.’