Singapore’s Temples Provide Safe Harbour for Two European Children

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TWO European children are marooned in ‘safe harbour’ in Singapore while an international family law case is ongoing between Australia and Europe.

The children arrived in Singapore from Perth in late September with their Australian permanent resident parent and were unable to return to Perth because their valid multiple-entry tourism visas had been cancelled after they left the Commonwealth of Australia.

The visas were cancelled because it is understood the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection did not have all the facts associated with the case available to them at the time of visa cancellation.

However, until the children again have valid Australian visas, they remain stranded in Singapore.

While the children could view being stuck in Singapore as unfortunate news, they have embraced the opportunity and are enjoying the island.

During their stay they have visited temples, waterways, gardens, and tried the local food.

A spokesperson for the children said it was the first time the children had prayed in their lives and Singapore gave them this special gift.

“They liked the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and an Amman Temple where they felt a sense of security and peace and which is where they learnt to pray.

“The parent will also take them to a Church where they will experience the Christian faith.”

The spokesperson said while the children found Singapore to be a bit hot and humid, they will remember it as the island that provided them with safe and serene harbour during a difficult time in their lives.

The reason the children left Australia is because a judge from The Family Court of Western Australia had ordered the parent who has shared care of the children to take lawful steps to extend the children’s visas.

The children entered Australia in early July on valid multiple-entry tourist visas which would expire in July 2018, however, the maximum stay for each entry is three months so they needed to leave the Commonwealth of Australia on or before 4 October to remain lawful.

The parent had been in contact with the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection which had offered short-term bridging visas for the children based on deportation grounds, but these would only be granted If the children overstayed their valid visas.

The parent had been instructed not to break the law so used the children’s existing valid visas to go on a short trip to Singapore which would enable the children to return and remain in Australia for ongoing legal proceedings.

A spokesperson for the parent said the parent was acting on court orders and doing what was in the best interests of the children.

“The full facts associated with this case are before the Family Court of Western Australia,” said the spokesperson who confirmed that both parents were legally represented in the Australian court.

“Sometimes it takes time for important documents to be distributed and received between authorities and international jurisdictions.

“The parent is now responding to The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s cancellation letters with necessary documents and hopes to have the cancelled visas revoked or be issued with new ones for the children.

The spokesperson asked people to remain impartial and neutral when they hear stories about family court proceedings and to refrain as much as possible from bias.

“Unfortunately, some people are quick to believe one parent’s viewpoint without having listened to the other parent’s story nor looked at the court orders.

“In cases where mediation between separating parents isn’t possible; it’s the job of the Family Court to receive and test evidence and to make decisions.”

The children will be required to return to Perth to attend court interviews.