SA borders open but families still divided

It’s been more than 100 days since Nuriootpa resident, Nat Brazier has seen her husband, Josh, who, as a FIFO miner, has been trapped in Western Australia since borders closed in March.

Premier Marshall’s announcement last week that South Australia’s borders would be open to people travelling directly from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland was met with a mix of jubilation and trepidation from the community.

As of June 17 travellers from Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania were permitted to enter South Australia without having to serve 14 days of self-isolation.

From June 20, Queensland was added to the travel bubble.

However at the time of going to print, those states were yet to reciprocate with eased restrictions for South Australians wanting to travel interstate.

Northern Territory is so far the only jurisdiction to make an announcement on the matter, flagging July 17 as its open date.

It continues to leave some families, such as the Braziers of Nuriootpa, in the lurch.

Nat and her husband, Josh, a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) miner in Western Australia, have not seen each other in more than 100 days.

“He went to work on March 10 and that fortnight was when everything started to turn pear-shaped,” said Nat.

“We made the decision together that he would stay at work if he could, because so many people were losing their jobs.

“I think I kind of thought he might be able to come home for a month and another crew would go up, but it didn’t happen like that. 

“A week turned into a month, turned into  two months which has now turned into three months.”

While Josh video chats nearly every day with Nat and the couple’s two children, Evie, 5, and one-year-old James, he has missed out on celebrating milestones such as the couple’s second wedding anniversary, and as it stands, will miss James’ second birthday on July 21.

Nat, who is a mechanic by trade, understands that border closures have been necessary, but now that South Australia has opened to Western Australia, she feels reciprocation would be well-received, especially for FIFO families where returning to work in WA continues to be a hurdle.

“They would have to go back to WA and quarantine for two weeks, paid by us or use holidays or whatever and then go back to work. It’s kind of counterproductive,” Nat said.

“It’s a little bit frustrating because I think there probably are certain exemptions that could be put into place for these guys, because all Josh wants to do is just come home and hang out with us,” she said.

As yet Nat and Josh still have no idea when restrictions will be eased enough to allow Josh to return to his two weeks on/one week off routine, but it could be as late as September.

“The company he works for have said be prepared to stay here for six months,” Nat said.  

“I was okay with it in the beginning because it’s what we do. I’ve got experience working away in the mines as well so I know what goes on. I know the lifestyle, it’s second nature for us. 

“But because it’s gone on so long, now everything feels like it’s starting to fall apart.”

South Australia will continue to restrict travellers arriving from New South Wales, ACT and Victoria until July 20, but with a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, the Premier indicated last Friday that borders could stay in place if it were necessary to keep the people of South Australia safe.

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