August saw the highest number of Australians apply to leave the country over the past year.
According to figures from the Australian Border Force (ABF), 37,979 applications were received from individuals hoping to leave the country, with 14,900 of those looking to be overseas for three months or more.
A large portion of the applications – 12,347 – were rejected. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that require residents to apply for permission before leaving the country.
The latest figures (pdf) reveal that since January – when the ABF received 20,976 applications – Australians have continued looking for opportunities to leave the country.
“There are literally tens of thousands of people out there on social media and elsewhere saying we’re done, we don’t need this anymore,” Andrew Cooper, president of LibertyWorks told the Daily Telegraph.
“There’s definitely that feeling out there—people saying I’m done,” he added.
This picture, taken on Aug. 27, 2021, shows a girl wearing a face mask walking through the empty streets of the central business district in Sydney, Australia, during the lockdown. (Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images)
While Australia has enjoyed some of the lowest infection and death rates from COVID-19, it has seen state governments apply stringent health restrictions and domestic border closures at any sign of an outbreak.
In several instances, entire cities have been placed under lockdown—with minimal movement allowed—over the emergence of a single case.
Currently, Greater Sydney and Melbourne have tried to contain outbreaks of the Delta variant of the virus, with both cities under extended lockdowns and stringent health restrictions including mask mandates, curfews, and travel limited to within 5km of a person’s home.
Melbourne entered its sixth lockdown on Aug. 4, which was originally planned for seven days, after eight cases emerged in the city. As a result, the lockdown has been extended and is currently ongoing.
Meanwhile, Greater Sydney has been under lockdown since last June, which has been extended twice until Sept. 30.
Recent figures have also revealed the damage lockdowns are causing Australians with mental health support service, Lifeline Australia, saying August was its busiest month on record.
One in four Australians also reported knowing someone who had committed suicide in the past 12 months, according to figures from Suicide Prevention Australia, whose CEO Nieves Murray said increases in suicide occurred during periods of major social and economic upheaval.