Fara Nadiah, Aaron Fechner and his two boys Riley and Tai together prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fara Nadiah, Aaron Fechner and his two boys Riley and Tai together prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Entry denied: Offshore worker stranded in Brunei

An offshore worker fears he will be stuck stranded in Brunei until Christmas, unable to return home to the Sunshine Coast and see his partner and young boys.

Mountain Creek father-of-two Aaron Fechner has been working on a rig in Brunei for the past 12 weeks and was supposed to be due back home this Saturday, September 5.

However, Mr Fechner claims to have been denied entry into the country.

His pleas to various levels of governments to be made exempt when he does eventually land, have gone ignored.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade acknowledged that the caps on international arrivals were making it difficult for Australians seeking to return to Australia.

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Mountain Creek couple Fara Nadiah and Aaron Fechner have been stuck apart for weeks thanks to COVID-19.
Mountain Creek couple Fara Nadiah and Aaron Fechner have been stuck apart for weeks thanks to COVID-19.

"I had a flight booked to get back, but I was told they are letting anyone in as the quarantine hotels are all full, application denied," Mr Fechner said.

"I don't know what I will do.

"It's the most unorganised system. Absolutely ridiculous.

"Nobody over gives a f---. Us offshore workers are just put in the too hard basket."

Mr Fechner, who pays tax in Australia and is an Australia citizen, said he had been treated as though he is a tourist, trying to get into the country.

"How can they deny an Australian citizen entry to their own country? Is that even legal?" he asked.

Back home, Mr Fechner's two boys Riley, 9, and Tai, 6, miss their father dearly.

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Fara Nadiah, Aaron Fechner and his two boys Riley and Tai together prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fara Nadiah, Aaron Fechner and his two boys Riley and Tai together prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

His partner, Fara Nadiah, said the pair both placed pocket money into the wishing well at the Bellingham Maze, just out of hope their prayers would be answered.

"When I had to tell them, they were devastated, they just want him to come home," Ms Nadiah said.

Ms Nadiah said because she works on a fly in, fly out roster on an oil rig in the Bass Strait, this was one of the rare months they get to spend time together.

The long distance couple were supposed to be reunited on Saturday, September 5.

"It's terrible," she said.

"I have no idea when I will see him. It's devastating.

"We do everything together. But I feel lonely and lost without him."

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A spokeswoman also said "the caps are critical to the integrity of Australia's quarantine system and the safety of the Australian community".

"The enhanced program of financial assistance is intended to assist the most vulnerable Australians overseas to safely shelter in place or to help them purchase tickets for commercial flights to Australia, when they are available," she said.

"Where commercial flights are not available, we continue to work with airlines and other governments to help Australians find ways to return."

Further details about the loans, including eligibility criteria and an application form, is available at Smartraveller.gov.au.


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