KUALA LUMPUR: Australia has clarified that Malaysians aged below 18 need not be accompanied by their parents or guardians while studying there.
Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia James Wise said such students were only required to have “some sort of custodian” who would be responsible for them.
“It can be a close relative like an aunt, uncle, brother or sister, or some other guardian. We are quite liberal on this.
“It's a pity that there's not been accurate reporting (on this matter),'' he said in an interview on his first day in office yesterday.
The matter came to light last week when Malaysia's head of delegation to the 11th Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, asked the Australian Government to exempt it from a purported visa ruling requiring students aged below 18 to be accompanied by their parents or guardians until they reached 18.
Ahmad Zahid claimed that the new regulation, passed by the Australian Parliament, was impractical as it would be “impossible” for parents or guardians to escort these students.
Wise, who arrived here on Saturday, explained that students aged below 18 from all countries were required to have custodians while in Australia.
“Malaysian students are warmly welcomed to Australia. The educational link between Australia and Malaysia has been a longstanding one,'' he added.
He said students enrolled in boarding schools did not have to register a guardian.
On the bush fires raging in Canberra, the envoy said he was relieved that no Malaysians were harmed.