A Riverina couple felt the full impact of state border closures after being embroiled in an ugly battle with Queensland Health to reunite their young grandson with his mother in the sunshine state.
After leaving the Fraser Coast in early July to visit his grandparents on their cattle farm located between Coleambally and Jerilderie, three-year-old Memphis Francis has been unable to return and reunite with his parents until now.
The story attracted public condemnation after it was revealed NRL players and their partners were allowed into Queensland, while other "trapped" residents in NSW like Memphis were unable to return home to their families.
The boy's mother, Dominique Facer, told Nine's The Today Show it had been a "devastating" two months being separated from her son.
After the media attention, the Queensland government granted an exemption to Memphis on Thursday, but the family told The Area News they have yet to hear anything from Queensland Health.
The young boy's grandfather, Mark Facer, said it had been a terrible situation to go through.
"This has been a really distressing situation for our family and Memphis," Mr Facer said.
"The media know just as much as we do, we have not been contacted yet, we don't know anything. We are still waiting to hear on how we can reunite Memphis with his mum Dominique."
The situation had been raised with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt earlier on Thursday, who told ABC News during a press conference the strict border policy was a "profound moral failure", after a number of exemption requests were denied by the Queensland government.
"In terms of compassion we know that league players have been allowed into Queensland but the fact that beautiful young children are being denied entry for reuniting with their families is a profound moral failure," Mr Hunt said.
Speaking before the exemption was granted, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called the situation "heartbreaking" and asked for every state premier to make exemptions everyday for people in dire situations.
"I just ask everyone to consider those cases and those exemptions and have a compassionate approach," Ms Berejiklian said.
"We know that living during a pandemic is difficult enough but when families are torn apart and children and separated from parents it is especially difficult."
Member for Murray, Helen Dalton called the situation "ridiculous" and "unacceptable", telling The Area News she was glad that Memphis was now able to go home.
"I know we are facing a pandemic, but state governments also need to exercise commonsense and compassion," Mrs Dalton said.
"People are sick of the double standards, with NRL players and families able to break the rules whenever they want."
While young Memphis will get a happy ending and reunite with his mum after two long months apart, we are reminded that he is one of many similar cases, according to the NSW Premier.
"While we hear about these cases from time-to-time, there are hundreds of cases like this every day and that is why all of us, no matter which state we govern or what our circumstances are, have to display a level of compassion and understanding," Ms Berejiklian said.
Mr Facer thanked the community and the media for platforming their situation.
"We are all very thankful for the community and the media in highlighting our situation to the general public, and allowing us to now bring Memphis home," Mr Facer said.
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