Australian woman is forced to move to a Pacific Island after her partner was denied an exemption to reunite with her 17 times over 551 DAYS despite there NEVER being a case of Covid in his country

Daily Mail
Daily Mail

An Australian nurse was kept apart from her sweetheart for 551 days, who was deemed an unacceptable travel risk - even though his country has never had a local case of Covid.

Stephanie Wheeler finally gave up and moved from Newcastle to her partner Tommy Esau's hometown, Honiara, in the Solomon Islands after he was denied an exemption from Australia's ban on international arrivals 17 times.

Ms Wheeler said Australian Border Force's handling of the couple's repeated attempts to reunite on compassionate grounds was 'callous' and 'cruel'.
Stephanie Wheeler, from Newcastle, decided to move to her partner Tommy Esau's hometown, Honiara, in Solomon Islands after he was denied an exemption to Australia's ban on international arrivals 17 times
Ms Wheeler slammed as 'callous' and 'cruel' the Australian Border Force's handling of the couple's repeated attempts to reunite on compassionate grounds. The couple are pictured in the Solomons

'As an epidemiologist, I understood the border measures initially. It saved lives,' she wrote on Twitter.

'But the callous lack of communication, compassion and any form of concrete plan moving ahead to reunite partners apart and families and get stranded Aussies home is cruel. It’s been awful.'

The tiny Pacific Island nation 3,000km north east of Queensland did not have a single local case of Covid the whole pandemic.

The Solomons has an even stricter hotel quarantine regime than Australia and all 20 cases were overseas arrivals.

Mr Esau, a health researcher, was told 16 times by the Australian Border Force that his 'circumstances do not outweigh the risk to the Australian community', the ABC reported.
'Happy to be happy again' Ms Wheeler wrote on Twitter after mental health issues during the prolonged separation from her partner Tommy Esau led to her decision to emigrate. They are pictured together at the end of September

Ms Wheeler said the repeated rejections of her fiancé by the ABF were 'awful'.

'You feel like you are baring your soul to a robot or… someone on the end of the ABF email who gets to look at all the most intimate details of our relationship and then goes, "Nah",' she said.

Ms Wheeler also enlisted the help of Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon - who told the couple's story in parliament - and wrote to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Despite having a good case, her appeal was to no avail and her mental health began to suffer.

In September, she left Australia and spent three weeks in hotel quarantine in Honiara before reuniting with her fiancé on September 28.

'After being kept apart in different countries for 551 days due to endless border closures and the ABF rejecting [Tommy's} entry 17 times we are finally reunited,' she wrote on Twitter.

'Happy to be happy again.'
Ms Wheeler had enough of 'cruel' rejections from the Australian Border Force and decided to leave Australia at the end of September to live in the Solomon Islands. The couple are pictured after reuniting

The couple met in Honiara in September 2019 when she flew to the town to research malaria.

Mr Esau was assigned to collect her from the airport and sparks flew immediately between the pair.

He spent Christmas 2019 in Newcastle and the couple returned to Solomon Islands in March 2020.

With border closures imminent, she was forced to return home without him.

As a field epidemiologist, Ms Wheeler knew Covid had the potential to become a global pandemic.

But she admitted being 'shocked' at the government's response and restrictions.

There are 47,300 Australians overseas registered as wanting to return home.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs said it did not comment on individual cases

Comments / 21

Mark Eatcrap Daman Leftwingscum

I was in love with a nurse in NC I'd have done anything to get her back. Now I'd do anything to keep that witch away from me


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