'I promised I'd be there': Couple separated from dying son in border battle

·4-min read

A worried mother has been banned from visiting her terminally ill son in Queensland as a “bizarre” border battle keeps her stranded in NSW. 

Roz Harris, 68 and her second husband Ivor, 75 sold their three-acre property in Tasmania with plans of moving to the sunshine state to be closer to her son Glen, whose health has rapidly deteriorated. 

The 40-year-old Gold Coast man was left paralysed in 2018 after being diagnosed with Transverse myelitis, a rare neurological syndrome. 

Soon after, doctors discovered cancer in his kidneys. He also suffers from diabetes and is facing the harrowing possibility of having his hands amputated. 

Roz Harris has only been able to video call her dying son since her last visit in May. Source: supplied
Roz Harris has only been able to video call her dying son since her last visit in May. Source: supplied

The couple packed up their belongings in May and headed north, where they had arranged to house sit in Casino, on the NSW side of the border, while they searched for their new home near Glen. 

They purchased their "dream home" in the Bundaberg region in June, agreeing to a longer settlement period just before the outbreak of the Delta variant in NSW.

But like many, their plans were abruptly put on hold, as the Covid situation escalated. 

Queensland hard border closures and the statewide lockdown in NSW has kept Roz separated from Glen, who lives in a special needs unit. 

And she fears time is running out. 

"He just wants me to be there," Roz told Yahoo News. 

"He could pass and I won’t be there and I promised him I would be there.

"It's hard, I'm a wreck."

A photo of Ivor and Roz Harris who are stranded in NSW after being refused entry into Queensland to move into their new home. Source: Supplied
Ivor and Roz Harris are stranded in NSW after being refused entry into Queensland to move into their new home. Source: Supplied

Couple feel 'totally abandoned' 

The fully vaccinated pair, who were due to move into new house this week, requested permission to cross the border at the beginning of August.

But by the time Queensland Health responded, cases were surging and regional NSW was under strict stay-at-home orders. 

“Now we find ourselves feeling totally abandoned,” Ivor said. 

He explained they were told by Queensland Health they would be required to fly to Brisbane from Sydney and complete two weeks' quarantine, while their car, trailer and dog are freighted up separately and stored.

Ivor estimates the total cost would be over $6,000 — a hefty bill the pensioners say they “cannot afford”.

Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and Queensland Police process commuters crossing the Queensland-New South Wales state border at Coolangatta, QLD, Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Source: AAP
Australian Defence Force personnel and Queensland Police have been stationed at the Queensland-NSW state border. Source: AAP

Hotel quarantine 'difficult' for Vietnam war veteran

Ivor has appealed this decision on a medical basis as he suffers from PTSD and severe anxiety from his time serving in the Vietnam war but is yet to get a response.

“Two weeks confinement in a hotel room would be very difficult for me,” he said.

“Other people have far more emotional problems than us yet Queensland Health does not take circumstances like these into account, nor do they consider the hurt and difficulties they inflict by being so inflexible.”

Couple left ‘virtually homeless’

The couple will have nowhere to go when the owners of the house they’ve been minding return on Friday. 

“We are now subjected to regional lockdown rules which mean that when the owners of the property we have been looking after return, we cannot stay with them. Nor can we go and stay with anybody else,” Ivor said.

“We virtually become homeless. And we have no idea how long we will be in this situation. It’s just bizarre, truly bizarre.”

"Every way you look at it, we're blocked," added Roz, who previously used to self-quarantine at home in Tasmania after visiting Glen. 

The couple is calling for “common sense”, “understanding” and “leadership” from the Queensland Government.

“Our story is one of many,” Ivor said.

“All we want to do is go home. Home being in Innes Park, Queensland. The Queensland Premier claims she is looking after Queenslanders, but if you’re a Queenslander on the wrong side of the border, you don’t count.”

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