An Irish couple who flew to Perth to meet their toddler grandchild for the first time have instead been sent home after a misunderstanding over the documents they needed to travel.
Anne and Audie Ryan-Murphy were greeted at the airport after a 19-hour flight, not by family as they had hoped, but by border force officials, before being questioned for a further 10 hours.
They were then sent to The Hyatt hotel to await their fate.
The pair were travelling to meet their granddaughter for the first time, and were also going to help look after her as their daughter-in-law Leanne Heaney is heavily pregnant with her second.
Anne Ryan-Murphy said she had believed they had met all the requirements to travel.
Have we slipped through the net here? Why were we allowed on? We told on all these forms that we were non-vaxxed, she told 9 News Perth.
And then to be told [you will be deported] right after coming off a 19-hour flight? We were devastated. Everyone thinks that we are criminals.
I have never seen [my granddaughter]. I have never met her, it breaks my heart.
With no other family in Perth, their daughter-in-law requested an exemption on compassionate grounds.
It’s just so hard to get your head around, that they are so close but will we even get to see them? Will [my daughter] even get to meet them? Heaney said.
On Tuesday morning, she confirmed they had been deported overnight.
We aren’t sure what it means for the future, or when we will get to see them again . . . [it’s an] incredibly heartbreaking time for our little family, she said.
An Australian Border Force spokeswoman said the couple had arrived without a valid medical exemption, and had their visas cancelled.
It is up to passengers to ensure they have a valid medical exemption if they are unvaccinated against COVID, they said.
This must be signed by a doctor and clearly outline what medical reason exists that prevents vaccination.
The ABF will continue to ensure those who arrive at our border comply with our laws and entry requirements.
All ABF officers involved in this matter adhered to correct procedures which have been put in place to protect the health and safety of our community, and that of all travellers entering Australia.