A YOUNG Donegal social worker believes staying in Melbourne is her safest option – for now.
Katie Carr is one of thousands of Irish travellers left in Australia who have had to make the tough decision to stay of return home to their families.
As the Covid-10 pandemic closed Australia’s borders to foreigners last week, Ms Carr found herself in constant contact with family and friends back home in Donegal.
“I was strongly considering going home but after speaking to friends and family, both at home and over here, I’ve decided to stay.
“I’m currently working as a social worker in Kinship Care for a not for profit agency. I’m very lucky to have a job at the minute as so many Irish out here depend on bar/hospitality work which has all stopped. This week has been the first I’ve been able to work from home. It’s a big adjustment as our job relies on a lot of outreach and visiting families, and now we have to sight our children allocated to us via FaceTime,” she explained.
A native of Kilcar, Katie moved over to Melbourne in April 2019. She did three months of harvesting spinach and living in a caravan last year in Queensland to get her second year visa.
She had just been home over Christmas so hadn’t planned on facing the twenty-four hour plus journey again until December.
“When things started getting bad about a week or two at home Irish people were advised to get home as soon as possible, I had looked up flights and some were up to $10,000. Being on Facebook groups like “Irish Around Melbourne” there was nothing but panic from people trying to get home and having flights cancelled, some getting to the airport after packing up their lives to find their flights were cancelled.
“I must say a big thank you to Thomas Pringle and his team who have been working around the clock with Donegal people who are stranded abroad. They’ve been very helpful and have been providing updates to us as soon as they get them. It’s very reassuring to know that they’re doing their best to get anyone who needs to get home home,” she said.
“It’s a tough time for anyone on a working holiday visa if they’ve lost jobs as there’s no government support for us, not that we know of yet anyway,” she added.
In Victoria they’ve introduced on the spot fines of about $1000 for groups of more than two of they’re spotted out and about.
“I’m living with an Australian girl at the moment so it’s difficult being over here and not being able to see friends because when you’re this far away from home your friends are your family. I went out for a walk the other evening to Albert Park as it’s beside my apartment and I’d never seen the place so busy, everyone was out.
“I’m going to stick it out here for another while as my contract in this job is until end of May, hopefully by then things will have started to settle. Hope everyone is keeping safe and well in Donegal,” she said.