Hitting the Mark, First Time

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January 27th 2012
Published: January 27th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

This is how Andy FeltThis is how Andy FeltThis is how Andy Felt

When they gave me that bad news
Today is 26 January 2012 (Australia Day) and we are on the farm, sitting outside its 4.13 pm and is 31 degrees sitting on the veranda, with Caroline in one chair, on her I Pad, Helen in the cool of the house also on her I Pad, Kimba,one of the dogs is sitting mesmerised by something in the bushes and me typing this blog, this is my view:

I cannot see another house for as far as I look, only tree’s, paddocks of varying green and beige, hills, water holes, sheep, clouds and sky.

We had a private e-mail that sort of hit home this morning, from a Kangaroojack “fan”, dare I be so bold! and someone who has interacted with us for our whole trip virtually, someone we have never met but who has appreciated our blogs, and always sends us messages which it just what we want.

This mornings message read, : Is this your special day, Andy? You haven’t mentioned it for a while, but I recall that today you will become an Australian, or am I wrong??”

Now there is a story,
Parliment HouseParliment HouseParliment House

In Canberra
a story we had not intended to tell, well, not yet anyway, until we knew what was happening. Very few people know the story but I will try and explain in brief.

It was October 2009 when we were in Cairns and out of curiosity we visited the Department of Immigration to find confirmation of the date that we were due for citizenship and were informed of the date that we would be officially eligible for our citizenship would be 11/12/2011 that date is stamped in our psyche.

This whole trip, we were gearing up to this date, and even when I phoned the department of Immigration and Citizenship for the first time in January 2011 they also confirmed this date, as they tied it together with our visa.

About July 2011 I again phoned the Department of immigration and Citizenship and asked if I could drop into their office in Braddon, just to go through all the papers, just to ensure that they were exactly right, my mentality was that if they were right first time then we would hit the mark first time on 12/11/2011 as we had heard
With a smile like thisWith a smile like thisWith a smile like this

Surely they will let me in
that even if only the slightest thing was incorrect on the papers they would bounce them.

When I posed this simple question to the female on the other end of the phone, I was told,” Sorry we do not offer that service.”

I must have had my stubborn head on and at lunch time, that day I drove in to civic, parked the truck and went in to the immigration office in Braddon, took my ticket and waited in line.

Soon I was sitting opposite a lady, who when she found out I was British wanted to tell me that she had worked in the UK at the British Embassy in London for quite an few years and how much she enjoyed it.

We got down to business, my opening gambit was, this is what I am trying to achieve, our citizenship eligibility date is 12/11/2011 and I want to get all the documentation done correctly, as I am working on a ”right first time philosophy” which she acknowledges was the right principle to adopt as, she said a lot of people just submit the form without even
Us TwoUs TwoUs Two

How could they not let us two in.
bothering to read it and not even submitting the appropriate supporting documentation.

At the end of our first meeting, I was chuffed because I knew my guiding principle was correct, “right first time”.

I had over 3 months before the papers were due and knew we would cruise this a piece of cake, I filled in my first draft and went through it with Caroline, it was a breeze, but we realised that there was supporting documentation missing which we had, but was in storage in the UK and would prove to be a pain in the back side if we had to ask our friends to go and find it and send it to us , so we decided to re order it through the National Archives on line, pay up and just wait for it to be delivered.

As soon as we had the full complement of documentation, which included our residency Visa, my old and new Passport, our marriage certificate, my birth Certificate, the bond for the flat we rent, my Australian Driving licence and a blood sample, no only kidding about the blood sample, we had our perfect first draft of a completed document.

It was the 14th September when I took the draft in, and the lady stamped all the documentation as authentic, this was monumentous, as I was sitting there and the lady turned her computer screen towards me and confirmed the date (12/11/2011) I was nearly hopping up and down in my chair with excitement.

Leah told me that she was the “Citizenship lady” and she organised all the ceremonies and there was a “Possibility” if all things were equal we may be able to have our ceremony on Australia day 2012, not forgetting we had both got to submit our documents, do the citizenship test and be accepted for the Australia Day celebrations, even before we could start organising the party.

I was given some advice, when you send the documentation, make sure it does not get there early, (not even a day).

I had a plan the 12/11/2011 fell on a Saturday, so I knew that if I posted it on Friday 11th November, it would not get there until the Monday 14th September, Leah said, “here is a prepaid envelope so you won’t need to put a stamp on it.”

Not likely, I was going to send it Australia post, “Recorded Delivery” then I could track it.

On the Monday, 7 November I had my last trip in to Diac’s office they were surprised to see me, but my rationale was “Has anything changed?” the lady looked puzzled I repeated the question again, has anything change with the law or something I don’t know about as this Friday I will be posting my citizenship papers.

She smiled and said nothing had changed, and we were good to go.

Friday the 11th of September came, I went in to the office then slid out at 9.00 am and went to the post office, I parked the truck and queued, at the counter a said I wanted to send this recorded delivery to Sydney.

Stamps, labels and it was all done and dusted, being very happy with myself, I went back to the truck and a traffic warden was just putting a ticket on it, still I couldn’t care less, I had achieved what we wanted so badly, the chance to become Australian Citizens.

As soon as mine was done, I was getting Caroline’s documents together, hers had already been certificated and it was just the getting together that needed to be done.

Caroline’s papers were due on 22nd November, as she had been back to the UK so this time was added to the total duration.

Again I went back to immigration, just to make sure that everything was in order and this time I was sitting opposite a lady that I had never seen before.

I explained what I was doing and she went over the documentation. Then she dropped the bombshell. “Why are you submitting these now?”

I explained that I was getting ready to submit my documents for citizenship and she said “but they are not due until 12 November 2012.

I exclaimed “What, No chance you must be wrong we have been working for this date for so long.”

I beckoned Leah over who asked what was wrong and I said the computer was telling us the date was now 12/11/2012, “something’s gone wrong.”

She acknowledged that she had indeed quoted what the computer had said, which was 12/11/2011 and had no explanation of why it had changed, but whatever it was the computer was telling us the revised date of 12/11/2012 and on my notes there was a letter rejecting my application.

I was absolutely gutted, I went back to the office and phoned Caroline, I think I said something like, I have had the worse news possible, Caroline twigged immediately and said “is it to do with citizenship?”

Caroline was out at a work thing that evening which was just as well as I was impossible, I just didn’t want to talk about it, I was trying to rationalise what had happened and could not understand.

We could not work out that after been told for possibly 26 months of the impending date, just as we get to the finishing line, the line is moved.

On the day we went to Bournda National Park in December we went back to immigration, it was a filthy day, the rain was coming down in torrents, and I was a little clearer in my mind about the situation and was now seeking some answers.

We spoke to the ladies we were familiar with, they had done some investigation and indeed, confirmed that there had been a computer glitch but it was too late immigration would not rescind the rejection letter apparently they have no power to overturn a decision they already made. I needed options and the only option we had was to appeal through the AAT (Australian Appeals Tribunal) as they have the power to overturn the decision.

I completed the documentation and we were both overwhelmed by friends who said this is not fair, us Australians don’t treat people like that we can’t think of people more deserving to be Aussies than you two.

This gave us some hope, then we found these amazing people, had actually wrote to Minister Bowen, the Government Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, acknowledging their disproval of how we had been treated.

He received 5 letters in one week about us, which made us giggle, and wondered what if anything went through his mind.

We have had it confirmed that the appeal date is 16 February 2012, so we hope that in about 3 weeks time we get a decision. It’s basically a chat between us and immigration and we will try and unravel what has happened.

In reality the worst case scenario is that we will have to wait until 12/11/2012 if the current decision is not overturned, but we feel it in our interest to give it a go. The best case scenario here is that something positive will happen in February.

That is the full unfettered story of what had happened, we are absolutely gutted we did not make the Australia day celebrations this year, but that’s life.

Every day we drive past Parliament House on our way to work and have watched them putting up the big TV screens for the Australia Day celebrations and in our hearts it feels very heavy and disappointing, but hey we are in Australia, the country we love, so things are not so bad.

Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, and ANA Day) is the official national day of Australia, celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. It is presently an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia and is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Honours List for the Order of Australia and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

The date is controversial to some Australians, particularly those of Indigenous heritage, leading to the use of alternate names, such as Invasion Day and Survival Day. Proposals have been made to change the date of Australia Day, but these have failed to gain widespread public support.

Well that’s all for now folk’s we will update you on things as soon as we know, but in the meantime it’s business as usual.



27th January 2012

Hang in there!
Hi Caroline & Andy, Really disappointed for you that it didn't come together. Whoever said you two are most deserving of citizenship is spot on. Take a copy of your blog along to the appeal interview - no one could question your case after looking at how much heart and soul you've put into your travels and life in Australia.
27th January 2012

Fight the Good Fight!
This is not the first time the Department in charge of Immigration has made a bewildering visa or citizenship decision; they unfortunately have a track record in this area. Their perfunctory dealing with such applications can be dismal. As Jo said, hang in there - and best of luck with the appeal!
12th March 2012

Hi Shane
Thanks for your e-mails, we had our second meeting with Diac at the AAT and legislation could not be changed so we have to wait until November 2012. Cheers Andy
30th January 2012

Sorry about the delays
Like Jo said, Hang in. I tried to apply for citizenship about 10 years ago (I've lived here since 1970) but it was such a convoluted process that I gave up. I have lived in several countries over the years and getting police clearances from all of them was too difficult. Happy to still be a Kiwi even though I haven't lived there for 50 years.

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