Australia - faster visa processing for tsunami survivors

Australia's Department of Immigration is to prioritize the processing of temporary visas for people from areas affected by the Asian tsunami, the Australian national broadcaster the ABC reported January 6 2004.

The Department says it is advising families in Australia and existing applications will be fast-tracked. For new applications, it says priority will go to people with families in Australia as well as orphans or last surviving family members. A hotline for visa inquires has also been set up.

However, in related news, representatives of Asian communities in Australia have said that adoption to Australia of children orphaned by the tsunami should be approached cautiously. Refugee advocacy groups have called for orphans to be brought to Australia. But speaking at a meeting of religious leaders assembled in the Australian capital Canberra to discuss aid for the tsunami victims, Sri Lankan High Commissioner Janaka Perera said that now is not the right time.

"These children always know that Australia can give them a better opportunity but they have become orphans and through this disaster they are in shock," he said. "So let us first rehabilitate them in the familiar and comfortable surroundings, and with the people that they know."

Indonesia's Ambassador Imron Cotan put similar views forward.

See our Australian immigration pages for further details on entry to Australia.