Artist Martin Davies.

Artist Martin Davies.

By Ursula Nolks
March 4, 2013

EDITORS NOTE: Thorsten, son of Ursula and Frank Nolks, rang me yesterday about the impending deportation of his parents on Wednesday after more than 30 years in Australia. Their lives changed course when Thorsten wanted to get married in 2008, because it was discovered his parents had changed their last name after arriving in Australia on a tourist visa. Tell your story and I will run it, I said. Ursula got to work and here is her account, followed by extracts from Ursula’s and Frank’s 2011 letter to the immigration minister. The family’s Senator, Trish Crossin, wrote to the minister on their behalf, and I’m hoping she will send it to me to post here.


In 2008, Thorsten, Frank and myself were interviewed by two immigration department officers from Canberra in the Darwin office. Our then case manager Dale Astbury forwarded it direct to the Minister for Immigration for ministerial intervention. We were also told by Dale that ‘deportation was never an option’.

But when a new case manager was appointed to us it all changed. We were made to start from scratch, and we were told that we had to get a valid visa or be deported.

We were advised by a Migration Agent to apply for a tourist visa, which will be denied but would give us the stepping ground for a ministerial intervention. After paying for tourists visas, then applying to the Migration Tribunal for a hearing, paying nearly $2500, our Tourist Visas were denied. From then on we were just given the runaround all the way to today.

Our last hope was help from our Senator Trish Crossin, and she sent a letter to Minister Chris Bowen on 3 August 2012. After we received a copy of the Senators letter we discovered that she was informed from the Darwin immigration department that we have alleged links with a motor cycle gang:

‘In relation to integration Mr and Mrs Nolks have successfully owned and operated a business in the Darwin community for 17 years. This enabled them to sponsor a number of community-based groups and participate in a Rotary Club, and have therefore evidence of being part of and contributing the community. This effort is fairly substantial and I believe has been largely overlooked.

‘The alleged links with a motor cycle gang have not been detailed nor investigated or actioned by the police or relevant authorities. It is my view that unless this is proven, this may well be hearsay and should not be a reason to refuse their request to stay in this country.’

In the last three years my husband developed a heart condition, and had to go to Adelaide for a heart surgery as there are no facilities here in Darwin. His condition has not improved, and this stress is certainly not helping.

In our last meeting with the department on February 20 we were informed we had to ring Werner Braun (Third Secretary) Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and if we do not comply we may have to be detained and may be send to a detention centre.

Our concern is that after more than 30 years living in Australia and calling Australia our home, returning would be like starting with nothing with no family. We have one son. He lives in Australia and if something happens to my husband I have my son to turn to.

We are hoping to be able to stay in this country and to see our golden years in the country we love and call home. Going back would mean never to see our son or our granddaughter again. We believe in Family and keeping families together, not separating.


Dear Sir Minister Chris Bowen,

10 April 2011


Franz-Josef Woelke

DOB: 16 July 1949

Born in Germany

Ursula Woelke

DOB: 24 Sept 1951

Born in Germany

are applying for ministerial intervention regarding permanent residency in Australia with the prospect of becoming Australian Citizens.

 I, Ursula, had a normal upbringing in Germany, went to school, graduated and went into the workforce as Insurance Office Secretary. In 1970 I married Franz-Josef Woelke and we had a son born 27 Dec 1971.

 I, Franz-Josef, was born in a big city (in a Nunnery) in Germany. After 2 years my mother brought me back to her home village where my misery began. Everybody from this village was born there, except for me. In 1954 I remember for the first time my mother and I travelled by train to the former East Germany, where my Stepfather was born, to visit his parents. The visit was to leave me there. It did not work out, so my mother brought me back home. Then she tried this again with some other relatives all over the country. Not successful, I was sent to a home for kids through the Catholic Church, this home was run by Nuns. I stayed there for some time and then I was sent to another home like that. But my mother was not successful in getting rid of me, so she was forced to put me in school in our Village. At the age of 8 years to the age of 12 years I was sent to a Monk

Monastery (catholic belief teaching).There were no women at this facility, only men. I left this facility for private reason and went back into our Village School where I stayed till graduation. At this stage I found out, why the local kids where not allowed to play or befriend me, because I was not born here, and my biological Father was unknown, even my Mother did not tell me, her words “I can’t remember”. This created a lot of problems in my young life, still today, I have nightmares about my childhood. Also I was beaten by my mother constantly…

At the age of 21 I married my wife, Ursula and we had a son born 27 Dec 1971. Two weeks before my son was due to be born the Army called me up for 15 months compulsory service.

In 1972-3 my family tried to immigrate to Australia. We went to the Australian Embassy in Cologne with all the necessary papers (police check etc.) and filled in the application. As my occupation at the time was with a Power Station (German: Kraftwerk) this was incorrectly interpreted as truck driver, and the application was unsuccessful as I was told, Australia has no need for truck drivers. (We bought a house and) I attended Night-school, to became a Power Station Operator…

In 1982 we booked a holiday to Australia and travelled around… At the end of July 1983 were came to Darwin after much traveling and have been here ever since. I found some work in the building site (then worked) in the Gold Mine with the prospect of earning more money. In 1984 Ursula started working as a engineering secretary with a small aircraft company, Arnhem Aircraft Engineering. where she stayed for 14 years.

After the mining I worked for the local government for 10 years (before Ursula and I started a screen printing business called ‘Arnhem Printing’)…

While working with the local Government I had a accident which left me with a back injury… For about 15 years I was on pain killer pills and tried acupuncture and

chiropractic treatments. During one time at a party, somebody offered me a smoke (I did not know, what it was) and found out it was a very pleasant pain relief…

I was told, it is very expensive to get so I did my own research and I tried to grow it myself for my own use only. Then I read an ad in the Newspaper, equipment for sale for hypotonic growing. I bought the equipment (but) was not very successful. When police came to my house I admitted for my own use… I was convicted and got 12 months Good Behaviour Bond. I was never in Jail.

 I am still a good person, and me and my family are respected in our community. We have done a lot of community work through our business, and sponsored local clubs

and community events… I also was a member of the Rotary Club, and my wife and I helped with the clean-up after the Katherine (NT) floods.We also have numerous references from local businesses, former local ministers, sports clubs and friends…

Our son got married in 2008 (and) in 2009 he and his wife and child moved in with us for a while. Our grandchild still has her own room with us as she comes to stay on weekends as she enjoys our company and her sandpit and pool. As we are very attached to her as well we like to stay and remain in Australia for ever. (Please let us stay)

After we sold our business Ursula and myself went into the workforce and we are working on a full-time basis…

Regarding the name change, it all came about back in 1982 when we bought our first car here in Brisbane. The car dealer mistakenly wrote the wrong name (NOLKS)

instead of Woelke. The car dealer organised the insurance for our car, so the insurer sent us the policy with the name NOLKS. We tried to get our name changed but the Insurance

company said don’t worry about it and left it as is. We still have this document from 1982.

 Dear Minister, please let us stay and live here in Australia for what time is left for us. This is our home and we desire nothing more then to stay with our son and his family, especially our grandchild (and our two lovely dogs).