SBS language | ‘This is just more punishment’, many Australians stranded abroad react strongly to tough loans
“We need flights, not a loan,” said Selbin Sebastian, who is stuck in Kerala with his daughters while his wife is here in Australia.
- The federal government will provide loans to Australians stranded abroad due to a pandemic.
- One-time loans that will be available to cover emergency living expenses until someone can return home.
- Only Australian citizens and their immediate family members will be eligible.
“People like me are more affected mentally than anything. Separated from their loved ones for a long time… it’s frustrating, especially for children (living) without a mother. ”
“Who wants a loan? It’s just an additional punishment,” says Dave James who is stuck in India.
Foreign Secretary Marise Payne told parliament on Wednesday the government will provide hardship loans to vulnerable Australians stranded abroad.
Senator Payne said: “Today the government indicated that we will provide additional support through an expanded program for persons with disabilities that will build on our current emergency travel loan program.”
“These are one-time loans that will be available to cover emergency living expenses until someone can return home. Loans will also be available to help pay for plane tickets back to Australia.”
But those stuck abroad have reacted strongly to the program, which is open only to Australian citizens and their immediate family members.
“I don’t need or want a loan. I want to be free to go home. This loan doesn’t solve anything. The only way to help is for the government to remove the caps,” a user said. Twitter in response to Ms Payne’s tweet.
“Take the cap off, so the airlines will stop canceling our flights and causing our financial hardship by trying to get immediate refunds,” another Twitter user Jo Ayers said.
“The big problem right now is mental health issues rather than financial issues. I’m sure that might help few Australians.” Mr. Sudheer Dharamkar, an Australian citizen, told SBS Hindi.
Financial assistance is available subject to meeting strict eligibility criteria such that applicants should “have made all reasonable efforts to request financial assistance by other means”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told SBS Hindi in an email response: “Emergency loans are only available as a last resort. Applicants will need to meet strict eligibility criteria and intend to return to Australia as soon as a flight is available. “
“The criteria are such that more than half of Australians will be ineligible,” Ganesh Bhanushali said on Facebook.
“Why can’t they use these funds to procure more quarantine facilities! Providing loans to stay where you are and not plan how to get them back is beyond my imagination!” posted another Facebook use Ashwini Kumar.
Many people stranded abroad are calling for the caps on the number of international arrivals to Australia to be lifted.
Many of those stranded – 7,500 – are stranded in India, while a significant number are also stranded in the Philippines, South Africa and Vietnam.
In July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reduced the number of overseas arrivals from 6,500 to 4,000 per week following a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Victoria and amid concerns raised by d other States regarding the execution of the quarantine program in hotels.
Currently, overseas arrivals in Sydney are capped at 350 passengers per day. Arrivals to Perth are capped at 525 per week, Brisbane and Adelaide are both capped at 500 per week, while Hobart and Melbourne do not accept international arrivals at all.