A family of six crowds together in Islamabad, Pakistan, while far away in western Victoria, Australian musician Unmani Unmani dreams of the day they’ll walk into Tullamarine airport. Through hundreds of WhatsApp messages, the 70-year-old musician has become enmeshed in the lives of a family she’s never met. The family is among tens of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in Australia. Of 124,336 offshore humanitarian visa applications in 2021-2022, 109,489 were from Afghanistan. Just 11,545 were approved. Unmani has been helping with the family’s visa applications for the past 18 months, through the not-for-profit Rural Australians for Refugees. While Australia has expanded its humanitarian visa quota to include 26,500 dedicated places for Afghan nationals, Unmani is still waiting for the family’s application to be approved. “We’ve got a huge country here,” she says, at home in Wal Wal, population 27. “Here I am, this middle-class woman on this farm in the Wimmera. And there is all this space.”

Read Full Story