Queensland state school students have been unable to attend international events due to an education department ban on overseas travel, despite open borders.
- In March, 2020 Education Queensland banned all departmental and school international travel due to the pandemic
- Despite borders reopening in February this year, the ban remains in place
- The Department of Education says it is working through COVID-19 insurance issues
In March 2020, Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace banned international travel for state school staff and students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Australia’s international borders reopened after two years in February this year, the ban on government school staff and students remains in place.
Independent schools are not bound by the department’s ban.
The department’s restriction has prevented two teams of students from Brisbane State High School, who won a national linguistics competition, from traveling to the Isle of Man to compete at the International Linguistics Olympiad.
Additionally, students from Mountain Creek State High School, Merrimac State High School and Worongary State High School were prevented from going to compete at the 2022 VEX World Robotics Championship the United States this week after they qualified at the national level.
In a social media post praising some of the students “incredible results” the department of education said they would be joining the competition online due to travel restrictions.
When will the ban be lifted?
Tory, a mother of one Brisbane State High School student unable to travel for the competition, told ABC Radio Brisbane they were initially excited at the opportunity for Ben and the team to represent their school.
She said she had spent the past 10 days trying to find out when the ban would be lifted from both Education Queensland and Queensland Health.
“I understand why the ban was brought in and you know, I appreciate that it’s been really difficult times,” she said.
“However, now obviously, international travel is open to private citizens and Education Queensland is actively encouraging international students to come and study here.
“So I just wanted to find out when the ban would be lifted to see whether we could accept the invitation and start booking tickets.”
She said she suspected the ban would be lifted soon but she said “trying to find out when the ban would be lifted has been a really fraught exercise and I don’t have an answer”.
Department working through COVID-19 insurance issues
An education department spokesperson said the department was working through “issues related to COVID insurance and other matters” to lift the restrictions “as soon as it is responsible to do so”.
“On Queensland Health advice and in line with the Declared Public Health Emergencies, and during a world health pandemic, as at 15 March 2020, all departmental international student and staff travel was put on hold until further notice,” the spokesperson said.
Health says advice appropriate at the time
A Queensland Health spokesperson said the health advice in March 2020 and throughout the pandemic was appropriate at the time.
“The Department of Education can provide comment on policies they may have put in place during the pandemic for staff, students and teachers,” the spokesperson said.
Education Minister Grace Grace declined an interview with ABC News.