6 January 2021

Border closure heartbreak for Jerrabomberra dancers

| Dominic Giannini
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The Rubies

The Rubies will not be able to attend their national dance championships in Adelaide because of border closures: Photo: Supplied.

Despite there being no travel restrictions on Canberrans entering South Australia, five young dancers just one kilometre over the ACT border have been blocked from attending their national dance championship in Adelaide next week.

The 12-year-olds all live in Jerrabomberra, and because South Australia closed its borders to anyone who had been to NSW in the previous 14 days, the Follow Your Dreams competition is now anything but.

One desperate dancer even tried to entice Premier Steven Marshall with chocolates and more followers on Instagram.

The young Rubies dance team would be allowed to quarantine in Canberra for 14 days and then enter South Australia; however, the competition would be over before their quarantine period finishes.

The dancers and their families remained in the local area and cancelled Christmas holiday plans in the hope of being able to attend the championship before the South Australian regulations changed on 1 January.

“We have all purposely stayed in the Jerrabomberra area and have asked people from hotspots not to visit. Our movements have been very limited,” said parent Reshenda O’Mara.

The heartbreaking news comes after the troupe spent half of 2020 training at the Bom Funk Studio over Zoom and still managing to qualify for the championship.

READ ALSO Explainer: what the ACT’s new COVID-19 restrictions mean for you

“It was their first time qualifying and they were so excited to represent Canberra having qualified in the Canberra regional competition in September,” said Bom Funk Dance Studio director Kym Degenhart.

“The incentive of attending the national dance competition after such a challenging year gave the girls motivation and a goal to work towards.

“Now, this has been taken away from them due to a technicality.”

National dance championships

The Rubies will not be able to attend their national dance championships in Adelaide because of border closures: Photo: Supplied.

Ms Degenhart said there needed to be an agreement between the governments to include capital region towns like Queanbeyan in the ACT green zone, especially as the suburb even shares a postcode with some Canberra suburbs.

“Our region has had no positive cases for months,” she said.

“We take for granted the regional bubble and invisible border crossing we make regularly along with 25,000 people living in surrounding communities commuting into Canberra every day.”

The dancers are continuing to practice in case they are allowed to enter South Australia, and earlier this week received their uniform for the nationals.

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A law is wrong when it has unintended consequences of punishing young girls and making a normal activity illegal.
The failure to apply laws and guidelines with flexibility, discretion and common sense is an abuse of power.
The failure to challenge abusive laws is cowardice.

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