A British grandmother faces deportation despite having lived abroad for 40 years. Mary Ellis, 74, left London with her partner Martin Ellis in 1981 to start a new life in Northern Rivers, a region in Australia’s state of New South Wales.
Ms Ellis claimed her now-deceased partner told her he had secured permanent visas for the couple before their 10,000-mile move.
But Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has said she has spent the last few decades living in the nation illegally claiming she is not who she says she is.
Officials have said she entered the country three times using aliases and that the man with whom she initially arrived went by another name entirely.
Ms Ellis, who received an NSW Volunteer of the Year award in 2023, said she hasn’t left Australia even on holiday since 1981, a claim Home Affairs has disputed.
The department said in a letter that she entered the country three times under a different name and was outside Australia for three years between February 1983 and November 1986.
Officials concluded that Ms Ellis – who holds an Australian driver’s licence, pension card and Medicare card – has stayed illegally in the country for the last 40 years.
She insisted this is “wrong”, she doesn’t understand why Home Affairs believes she has used aliases, and that documents prove she was in Australia on the department’s given dates.
Among those documents is a job reference from a restaurant in Tasmania stating she worked there from as a waitress and cashier from 1983 to 1986 and a successful Medicare enrolment letter signed by Neal Blewett, NSW’s then Minister of Health.
But officials have claimed her alleged three-year departure means she does not meet the requirements, as Australia’s Migration Act 1958 allows non-citizens to become “absorbed persons” only if they have stayed in the country since April 2, 1984, and never left.
The department has said she was not in the country on that date and, therefore, is “not considered an absorbed person”.
The letter stated: “As you were not in Australia on 02/04/1984, you are not considered an absorbed person and do not hold an Absorbed Persons Visa.”
The letter added that officials believe her former partner was named Trevor Warren, not Martin Ellis.
Speaking to the Australian show A Current Affair this week, Ms Ellis said: “This is my home, I love Australia.”