SBS language | Australia announces emergency loans of up to $ 5,000 for citizens stranded abroad

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The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will make a financial aid program available to Australian citizens under duress due to their inability to return home.

Those considered vulnerable will receive one-off interest-free loans to cover living expenses or airfare for a flight back to Australia.


Strong points:

  • Interest-free loan payments for Australian citizens stranded abroad as a ‘last resort’
  • Applicants will need to meet strict eligibility criteria to access a loan
  • Permanent residents are not eligible for payments under this Hardship package
  • Australians stuck in India say “it shouldn’t have been a loan”

Announcing the hardship package, Foreign Secretary Marise Payne said the payments are in addition to the existing emergency traveler loan program available to vulnerable Australians stranded abroad and will be available in “last resort”.

“The loans are meant to cover temporary accommodation and daily living expenses until they return. Loans may also be available to help vulnerable Australians purchase tickets for commercial flights, ”Ms. Payne said in a press release.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne

AAP

Who is eligible?

Applicants will need to meet strict eligibility criteria to access a loan, and only the most vulnerable Australian citizens still stranded abroad will receive financial assistance.

And as the name suggests, successful applicants who receive these payments will have to repay them upon their return to Australia.

“Why lend? It should have been a payment ‘

According to the latest figures revealed by the DFAT, nearly 23,000 Australians are stranded abroad, up from the figure of 18,000 published two weeks ago, according to which a majority is trapped in India.

Repatriation theft

Chetna Gill with her sons.

Provided

Among those is Brisbane-based single mother Chetna Gill, who remains stranded in the northern Indian state of Punjab with her two sons since the borders were closed in March.

After spending thousands of dollars on round-trip tickets, Ms Gill, who recently lost her job, says that while this is a step in the right direction for those who need the cash to purchase tickets, it is is, however, “unnecessary for most”.

“I lost my job and already had to borrow money to support my family while we were stuck here. Under these circumstances, when people have lost their jobs and wages and have no access to payments like Jobkeeper or JobSeeker for months due to the government’s own decisions, it clearly should have been a payment and not a payment. loan on which we have to repay. our return, ”she said.

‘Remove the cap’

Adding to the tale, Lakhpreet Singh who is also stuck in India with his wife and two young children said he would have been happier if the government had removed the “hard limit on international arrivals instead”.

Ms Gill says the inability to return has put her in huge financial debt and she is unable to take out another loan.

“With the way things are going, I have totally lost hope of going home. I have been trying to book a return ticket since March but have had no luck so far. The only news that can alleviate my difficulties at this stage is if the government announces a relaxation of the ceilings, ”he said.

Permanent residents feel “excluded”

The eligibility criteria also state that only Australian citizens will be eligible for these emergency payments, leaving out hundreds of permanent residents who can only access these loans under the following circumstances:

– If they are traveling with an immediate family member who is a citizen, and that family member includes the resident in their own application for financial assistance.

– If the only Australian citizen in the family traveling with the resident is a child, other ties to Australia will need to be considered prior to approval.

Aus in India

Saurabh Jolly with his family.

Provided

Unsatisfied with the criteria, Saurabh Jolly, stranded near the Indian capital New Delhi with his wife and daughter, said it was leaving his peers and family “at a loss”.

“This differentiation is unfair and overwhelming. How can permanent residents be different from vulnerable citizens? Even we cannot make a living when we are stranded abroad. Are we not making a contribution to the Australian economy? How are we supposed to survive? He asked.

Click on here for more information on the eligibility criteria and the application process.

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