Belinda Hati is one of thousands of Aussies to have been caught up in passport delays, causing stressful waits and dashing travel plans.
But when the passports for her and her WA family finally began arriving in the mail, she was less than impressed.
Despite the precious contents – and a registered post label which mandate a signature on delivery – Ms Hati found the Australia Post delivery containing the passports thrown over the fence to languish in the grass.
"They were over the fence amongst three larger packages," she told Yahoo News Australia.
Ms Hati said if it wasn't for the larger packages, she could have easily missed the passport packages altogether.
"They both were just in envelopes no plastic cover," she said. "Lucky it wasn't raining or they would have been waterlogged," potentially rendering them unusable.
Ms Hati plans on lodging a complaint with Australia Post when the offices open on Monday but took to a Facebook group for the growing number of Australians waiting on their own passport to share her frustration.
"I will be making AUSPOST aware but wanted to let people know to keep an eye on tracking as the same may happen to you," she wrote.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for Australia Post said it had reached out to Ms Hati to apologise.
"Our drivers and posties are working hard delivering a record number of parcels and mail, and while the vast majority make it to their destinations safely something has clearly gone wrong here, and we have contacted the customer to apologise," the spokesperson said.
"We also encourage customers to contact us directly on 13POST or via auspost.com.au/help if they have concerns about a delivery so we can provide help and support."
With the Australian Passport Office struggling to keep up with demand during the pandemic periood, about 40,000 Australians still had not received their passports more than six weeks after applying for them, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) said late last month.
Ms Hati told Yahoo she submitted four passport applications for herself, her partner and children on June 26.
"We had plans for travel on the 9th of September but changed it after a few escalations with passport office," she said.
The first passport arrived two weeks ago and was left in the letterbox without anyone having signed for it. The other two were found in the grass of the family's rural Oakford property, in outer Perth, late on Friday while the fourth passport has yet to turn up.
After waiting more than two months, the WA family were forced to push back their planned trip to Bali while they continued to wait for the Passport Office.
"Lucky for me it was just a family getaway after Covid and not something we had to go for an event," Ms Hati said.
"They did nothing but just say they have escalated it each time and hopefully they will be ready.
"They were polite each time I called but it certainly left a lot of stress on my end."
In late August, DFAT sought to assure applicants that it would be able to work through the roughly 270,000 applications in the queue at the time by the end of September.
It blamed the delays on continued and "unprecedented demand" after 1.8 million Australians renewed their passports while international borders were closed.
In the 12 months to mid 2022, DFAT issued 1.5 million passports – more than two-and-a-half times the year before, the ABC reported.
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