2 May 2020

Dying wish granted as NZ nurse to fly to Australia to care for sister

6:58 am on 2 May 2020

Gail Baker's dying wish has been granted, with her sister set to travel to Australia from New Zealand to care for her in her final days.

Commercial airline. Passenger plane landing at airport with beautiful sunset  sky and clouds. Arrival flight. Airplane flying in a line for landing. Aircraft open light in the evening flight.

Photo: 123rf.com

The news comes after her sister, Christine Archer, had four previous applications to the Australian Department of Home Affairs rejected.

The department is authorised to grant an exemption to "those who have a compelling and compassionate reason to travel to Australia urgently".

After a fall in her Bowraville home on the New South Wales Mid North Coast in March, Baker was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and told she has just weeks or months to live.

She said she was extremely relieved her sister could travel and be with her.

"I'm very, very happy that Christine can come over, she's obviously going to have to quarantine in Sydney most likely for two weeks, but at least she'll be in the country and she's closer to getting here," Baker said.

"It's something to stay alive for and stay well. I'm hanging on for the day that that we can get together and have an good old chinwag."

"It means everything."

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Sisters to be reunited after six years

A retired New Zealand based nurse, Archer, said being able to travel to Australia to be with her sister was a huge relief and she had flights booked.

"I am so happy and so relieved that they are granting me permission to come in," she said.

"It means everything, I can't describe it, she is my only sister and my baby sister and she's just not going to be around for … [long].

"I just want to spend every minute I can with her, it will be just wonderful."

"We haven't seen each other for six years, we have an awful lot of catching up to do, and time is limited and every day is precious."

Nurse sister to facilitate end-of-life wish

Baker's only daughter, Erica Peterson, had regularly travelled hundreds of kilometres between her home in Uralla, in the New England region, to assist her mother at the Bellingen Hospital palliative care unit.

While Baker is home for now, Peterson said it was uncertain how long she would be able to remain there.

She said the news that her aunt could now come to Australia and help care for her mother was wonderful.

"We were very excited when we found out this afternoon," Peterson said.

"It means mum can have her final wish and have the end of life that she has wanted for the last couple of months - without Christine being here it would not happen that way.

"It'll be a much nicer way to end her life rather than in a hospital with people she doesn't know."

Archer and Baker both looked after their mother in her final days.

"I'm just hoping I have a nice peaceful end like mum did," Baker said.

Government process needs improving, family says

Archer said achieving permission to travel to Australia from New Zealand, with borders closed due to the pandemic, had been a long process.

"To get to this point it has taken me six applications, numerous different documents that were needed, it's just been such a huge job, it really has," she said.

"I am sure there are so many other people in the same position as I have been in and maybe now it will open the door for others to see their loved ones, sooner rather than later."

Peterson said the process for applying for exemptions needed to be improved.

"It's ridiculous, and I totally understand that Covid-19 is a big concern for people, but there's no reason why Christine couldn't have been here on a plane three weeks ago," she said.

"The government needs to change the way that they look at these applications … rather than a one-rule-fits-all [approach].

"I think they really need to have a bit more heart and think about people's lives."

The ABC has contacted the Department of Home Affairs for comment.


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