Monday, September 26, 2011

Australia’s policy on visas towards Papua New Guineans


I started this group on Facebook out of pure frustration in dealing with the Australian High Commission Migration Office in Port Moresby for visas,  etc.
I thought that due to the popularity of social media these days that I might stir up a couple of hundred of peoples’ interest.
Little did I know that in under a week that we would have over 1,000 members.
I find their policy and attitude towards Papua New Guineans in general to be borderline racist.
I understand that this is an emotionally-charged topic, but please do remember, our ultimate goal is to have such an impact where we encourage positive changes.
I am not trying to create disharmony, division, racism etc.
I am simply highlighting an issue that needs to be dealt with.
I feel that it’s an absolute disgrace, Australia's attitude towards Papua New Guineans at the High Commission.
What's even worse is the apparently racist attitude that the Papua New Guinean staff  have towards their own country folk.
As a former Australian citizen and long-term resident of PNG (I have been here since I was an infant) and married to a Papua New Guinean, I have sponsored relatives, friends and employees on several occasions to travel to Australia for short stays, for weddings, funerals, shopping trips and holidays.
It's the same each time, and it's getting worse.
Forced to line up in the hot sun or pouring rain like cattle, when they eventually get in the door and wait a further two hours, they treated with contempt and suspicion by the PNG officer who serves them.
They are then forced to provide hideous amounts of personal information that can include letters of support, medical histories, bank account statements of the applicant and those of their sponsors and even more.
Of course my story is the same as everybody else's.
The AHC demands sensitive and personal information that they never acknowledge receipt of.
The whole process can take months just to get a one-month visa.
I just met a couple in the AHC car park a few weeks ago morning, the wife was in tears.
They had applied for visas for themselves and their child to fly down to Brisbane for a couple of weeks and visit the husband’s sick grandmother who is in hospital down there.
 It cost them K300 each for their visa applications and guess what, their applications were rejected!
The reason? Well apparently the wife’s sister had previously overstayed her visa by a few days due to a mix up in airline bookings.
So she is automatically considered an overstay risk and automatically rejected. This poor lady and her husband get penalised because of a mistake that someone else made.
So I can now confirm, they are now black listing people based on who your relatives are. Were these people given a chance to explain or even submit further information to support their case? No, it was automatically denied.
How were these people told that their visas were denied? Via email. So on this particular day they came down in an attempt to talk to the officer and explain their circumstances, guess what? They weren’t even allowed past the gate.
You will find stories just like this one on our Facebook page, it’s absolutely disgraceful.
It appears that the Australians have Papua New Guineans on an automatic "at risk blacklist", something carried over from the pre-colonial White Australia Policy.
What's really insulting is Papua New Guinea's history with Australia, especially that of WWII where Papua New Guineans played a critical role in defending Australia from Japan during the war.
Now a citizen of Japan can apply for an Australian Electronic Travel Authority online and a visa is granted on arrival in Australia.
Papua New Guinea gives visas to Australian nationals on arrival at the airport as well. Yet the humble Papua New Guinean whose ancestors helped protect Australia from Japan during the war is made to jump through near impossible hoops.
I find this extremely unfair, when we offer visas on arrival to Australians as long as they arrive with a return ticket.
A Samoan, Tongan, and Cook Islander can freely travel between their home and their former colonial master, New Zealand, yet ours has put up an impassable barrier! Why ?
Now that the opening of two new Australian Visa Application Centers (AVAC) in Port Moresby and Lae is being promoted by the Australian High Commission as a positive step in addressing our concerns. Fact is, it doesn’t! All it is doing is shifting the line up from the car park to somewhere else. These application centers are third- party contractors who simply accept applications and then pass them over to the AHC for processing. What they have achieved by introducing these centers is placing yet another barrier between the applicant and the Migration Office which is now closed to the general public.
And to further rub salt into the wound, on top of the existing no- refundable application fee, people will now have to pay an additional k49 to fund these centres. Why is this? Because the AVAC is operated by a private contractor, TT Services which belongs to an Indian company that specialises in, among other things, “out sourcing solutions” such as call centres.
Now Papua New Guineans will be faced with even higher processing fees and of course, as they are now been handled by a private contractor, they will not be able to answer any questions in regards to declined applications or policies etc.
I strongly suggest that the PNG Minister responsible for Migration should immediately implement a blanket ban on the issuance of visas on arrival to all Australian citizens traveling to Papua New Guinea until such a time when Australia can accord Papua New Guineans the same privilege.
We have an email address
And our Facebook group, Australia’s policy on Visa’s towards Papua New Guineans can be accessed here,
We also have an online petition that can be accessed here,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:39 PM

    this is very true..why are PNGeans treated like this in a stereotype immigration policies that resemable a racis approach to Visa application for PNG.......there is suppose to be some kind of special immigration policy/guidline to treat PNGeans from the rest of the world........why are PNGeans treated like this in a stereotype immigration policies that reassemable a racis approach to Visa application.......come on PNG work-up from your slumbers of +36 years of independence or say we'll say dependance (like yes-yes master neocolonial type approach to Australia)