Daughters unable to attend dad's funeral in Queensland thank Moree community for its compassion

Charlotte and Sarah-Jane Brown with their dad Eric, who sadly passed away on August 14. The sisters were unable to attend their father's funeral on August 31, as they were refused entry into Queensland. Photo: supplied
Charlotte and Sarah-Jane Brown with their dad Eric, who sadly passed away on August 14. The sisters were unable to attend their father's funeral on August 31, as they were refused entry into Queensland. Photo: supplied

Two sisters unable to attend their father's funeral in Queensland were overwhelmed by the kindness of a stranger in a northern NSW town.

Charlotte and Sarah-Jane Brown were refused entry into their home state of Queensland to attend their father Eric's funeral because they live in the ACT and Sydney, serving in the Royal Australian Navy.

They were originally informed by Queensland Health they would be granted an exemption to cross the border, only to be told two days before their dad's funeral that they would not be exempt and would have to isolate for two weeks upon arrival into the state.

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The sisters first contacted Queensland Health on August 14 following their father's death, asking for an exemption to enter the state that night, but were told they needed to wait for a border pass.

"They were informed they wouldn't need an exemption to enter Queensland, just self-isolate for two weeks in the ACT and Sydney and they will be okay to enter Queensland," their mum Catherine Brown said.

Queensland Health told the sisters they would forward their border pass in the next 48 hours. Three days later they were yet to receive their pass, so called again and were provided the same information - that they would have a pass in 48 hours.

Another three days passed and there was still no border pass, so they tried again, only to be told it was coming. By Monday, August 24, a week before their dad's funeral, no border pass had been issued.

Both sisters rang Queensland Health again and both were given the same information.

So they waited until Wednesday, August 26, only to be told that if they entered Queensland they would have to isolate for two weeks.

"This was not what we were told the previous times," Mrs Brown said.

"Queensland Health claims they have to record of any such information given to my daughters."

The family tried again on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and were told the same information each time - that they would have an answer in 24 hours. They are yet to receive any response.

On Sunday, August 30, one day before the funeral, Charlotte and Sarah-Jane decided to drive to the Queensland border hoping by some "miracle" that the government would allow them to enter.

They waited until 12pm on Monday, August 31 when they realised they would not be allowed to enter the state.

Instead, they drove back to Moree, resigned to the fact that they would have to watch the funeral on their phones in a motel room.

Meanwhile, Mrs Brown was contacted by a friend, Christal Gesch from Moree, who offered to book the girls into a room at Moree Library so they could watch the live stream in a more pleasant surrounding, instead of their hotel room.

When the sisters arrived at the library, they were delighted to see that someone had added flowers and chocolates to the room for them.

"The girls said the room was beautifully set up and they were made to feel a part of the town," Mrs Brown said. "They were so overwhelmed by the gesture.

"For someone who didn't know them to take the time for to make my daughters feel so welcome made us feel so grateful.

"One of my daughters said that the best thing would have been to attend the funeral but this was a very, very, very close second. After the funeral they were told to go to the pub and celebrate their father's life."

Mrs Brown would like to pass on her heartfelt thanks to the people of Moree for the kindness shown to "two young ladies who were distraught at being treated so shabbily by the Queensland Government".

"The kindness showed by the townspeople of Moree to two young ladies who they didn't know makes us speechless," she said.

"To be denied entry into Queensland, their home state, and to be welcomed so warmly into your town makes us feel ashamed of our state.

"I'm not trying to get political because that is just a bitter gesture but it was forgotten when I received my daughters' phone call and the excitement in their voices as they were taken into the room.

"I would love to thank everybody in person but am unable to due to the restrictions."

This story A town touches distraught sisters unable to attend dad's funeral first appeared on Moree Champion.