Acts of good faith – Department of Immigration style

Just to show that inhumane, hypocritical and empathy-free attitudes on immigration matters are not confined to Australia, here is a story from the USA about the Iraqi parents of a man murdered while working in a liquor store in San Diego, who have been denied a visa into the USA to attend his funeral “because there was no guarantee the parents would return to Iraq” afterwards.

Having said that, the inhumane and pointlessly messy way the Australian government is handling the Robert Jovicic case shows that any talk about an improvement in the ‘culture’ of the Department of Immigration is still not showing many signs of being matched by reality.

Robert Jovicic is the man who lived for 36 years in Australia, having come here as a two year old, but who then was deported from the country on character grounds and sent to Serbia, where he had never lived, did not have citizenship, and did not speak the language.

Having finally been allowed by our government to return to Australia – following a significant amount of public pressure –Mr Jovicic has only been given a temporary visa for four weeks with strict conditions attached – “including keeping the Department of Immigration advised of where he’s living and being required to report to Immigration and police officers. And despite ongoing health problems, the visa also cuts off his access to Medicare”.

Amazingly, the Australian government is also reported to have “encouraged him to seek citizenship of Serbia, as an act of good faith”!

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88 Comments

  1. Geoff many of them are my friends and neighbours as a matter of fact, some are like my own family. They are from AFghanistan, Iran and Iraq and are just ordinary people with extraordinary stories to tell.

    Ken, why do you want to lock up people who have committed no crime? You can’t say that you don’t believe they should be in centres like jails so can we agree on hostels like we did for over 100 years with few restrictions beyond giving a change of address?

    Geoff, you clearly don’t know what “unlawful” means in this context but according to Chief Justice Gleeson with the agreement of DIMA it is only a definition phrase and does not denote having done anything illegal.

    And Geoff, if you want to believe the fairy tales DIMA post on their sites go right ahead, those of us who know better don’t believe a word of it. Most of what DIMA claim is sheer paranoia on their part.

  2. Marilyn I don’t believe most of the stuff you post because it is absolutely preposterous. If not just downright crazy.

    I don’t believe you live in a “Middle Eastern” neighbourhood either.

    Whereas I lived in a very multicultural neighbourhood and had Muslims living all around me until I recently moved.

  3. Marilyn. When people come to Australia through non-lawful channels you dont know whether they have done a crime as you dont actually know who they really are. That is why you need to lock them up, to find out if they have done a crime and who they are. If they are a bad seed and you just let them into the community loose without supervision and leave it to them to tell the Authorities where they are, do you really think that they are going to stay and wait to be found out?

    That parents bring their children on such a journey, is something that you should take up with the parents and dont tell me that they dont know what can happen and about Australia – it doesn’t wash – they take their chances because it is worth their while. Everybody knows about Australia and how generous we are here with Welfare and that is why we have to be strict, thats why people bypass all those other “safe” places to come here. IF we dont control the intake and borders Australians will have to leave their own Country as they will feel persectued themselves by the sheer amount that will take their chances and we cannot support so many people on Welfare. WE have to protect what we have and our own.

    It amazes me how you dont seem to care about those that cant come, just those friends of yours that can.

  4. Not good enough Marilyn. “F” mark for not even trying, . The question is very clear, it is not to ask me quetions. I’ve said very broadly what I belveive and anon has added intelligently to that.

    What we wnat to know is what is your policy proposal. For that matter what is the good Senators – as he takes the equally easy way out of pointing out everyone thats wrong but offers little in turn as an aletrnative.

    Effort and thoguht is required

  5. Well personally Ken considering our unique position in the world geographically, I think we need not only to be strict with immigration but also we need to boost both the Customs and Quarantine services.

    We need to maintain detention and quarantine for unknowns that enter our country and offshore is the best place for that.

    Free trade agreements with their compromises on people movement and movement of produce, livestock etc, need to be seriously looked at. We need to strengthen our restrictions not loosen them and put at risk the future of our country and our people.

  6. Now we aer getting some debate actually on the issue – and some thought of what peoples views on the future direction are. Whether right or wrong or with agreement is not relevant, thats the point of a good blog.

    However the big M remains silent. I think many people find it so much easier to criticise that contribute to thoguhts about solving the problem.

  7. I’m always in for it Ken… but I won’t let “you know who” go unanwered with her claims etc.

    Hey Kangaroo Island look like a nice place to detain people, etc. :-)

  8. Who are “we”? “We” got here first so stuff you?

    I would love to know just what it is that I say that is crazy Geoff. Now let’s have a look at the reality of what is happening today.

    1. We try hard to stop illegal fishing in the north and ignore the Japanese illegally fishing in the south. Is that because the Indonesians are poor and cannot fight back while the Japanese are rich and highly organised and we can’t go annoying the rich?
    2. War criminals fly into Australia every day to seek asylum and are not locked up but children who come on boats are. Who is more dangerous – a man who was with the Lebanese army during the massacres at Shatila and Sabra or a baby? Give that tired old cherry about proper channels a rest for god’s sake. There is no proper channel for refugees to travel through or they risk being killed.
    3. Could someone tell me how an illiterate Afghan farmer who is put into the hands of an “agent” could possibly know anything about Australia and it’s welfare system? Or even care.
    4. Do you guys really want the truth or are you just trolling Andrew’s forum with tripe?

  9. what’s crazy… all the Nazi stuff, the exaggerations, the war crap, the continuous anti-Government rhetoric, the obsession with refugees on every topic etc, etc, etc…..

  10. I don’t talk about nazis, the war is real and people are being slaughtered, refugees are human beings who are being brutalised, the government is rotten to the core and about to steal all your work rights, freedoms and democratic institutions from you. Yep that’s crazy alright.

    But I noticed on EP’s private little hate site that no-one wants to respond to the tripe he peddles.

  11. Somewhere along the way, this comments thread seemed to become about detention, rather than denying visas or deporting long-term residents.

    I’ll add a couple of points, just so it can’t be suggested that I am not proposing any alternatives (although there’s plenty on the record elsewhere about my and the Democrats’ position).

    To assist with some perspective, according to a report released earlier this week, in 2003–04, around 9.3 million people arrived in Australia by air, and around 333 000 people arrived by sea (mostly crew members of visiting commercial ships). The majority of these enter after getting an electronic visa, which can be applied for online and is issued unless the person’s details match to movement alert lists – these people do not need to have health checks or additional security checks.

    Other figures just released by the UNHCR show that in the past four years, the number of asylum-seekers arriving in all industrialised countries has fallen by half.

    In regards to detention, the guidelines agreed to by the UNHCR are ones that I think provide adequate safeguards, whilst still adhering to the fundamental principle that you don’t lock anybody up – asylum seeker or otherwise – without charge unless there are compelling reasons, and then for as briefly as possible.

    Before anyone says ‘we have our own government and it’s not the UNHCR’, I agree. However, Australia has not only ratified the Refugee Convention, it has also incorporated its key features in our domestic law. In addition, Australia as a government has signed off on these UNHCR guidelines, adopted by their Executive Committee (EXCOM), of which we are a part. I presume this means we thought they were workable guidelines. I also think it’s poor form as a country to support the adoption of guidelines and then ignore them, while other countries don’t.

    In short, the guidelines are:
    Exemptions to the general rule that detention should be avoided must be prescribed by law (ours aren’t – unless you count a law which just says the Department can lock up anybody indefintely regardless of the circumstances).

    The detention of asylum-seekers should only be resorted to to
    (a) verify identity;
    (b) to determine the elements on which the claim for refugee status or asylum is based (which is different to locking them up until you decide if the claim is successful);
    (c) to protect national security and public order (i.e. where there is clear evidence to show that the asylum-seeker has criminal antecedents and/or affiliations which are likely to pose a risk to public order or national security); or
    (d) in the case of asylum-seekers using fraudulent documents or travelling with no documents at all, only when there is an intention to mislead, or a refusal to co-operate with the authorities. Asylum-seekers who arrive without documentation because they are unable to obtain any in their country of origin should not be detained solely for that reason.

    Detention should not be used as a punitive or disciplinary measure for unauthorised entry or presence in the country. Detention should also be avoided for failure to comply with the administrative requirements or other institutional restrictions related to residency at reception centres or refugee camps.

  12. Why Do we post after post over and over again spend all our time on imagration and how these people are treated. Why are you all not talking about our own people out in the Australian outback just as much. it really annoys me. lets help the people that were born here just as much as those who come on ships. After all they were here before us and they are Australian.

  13. I am with you on this one Wendy and I think that we are pushed that way by the media, by the Government and by some people who have a particular personal interest in these issues.

    Whilst we are busy talking about immigration and refugee issues the Governments, at all levels, feel safe because we are not looking and talking about them.

  14. after reading all the blogs i agree with
    Ken Says:
    March 15th, 2006 at 1:34 pm
    Ok Marilyn we all get the point – no need to froth. So what is your solution – we can all criticise, slander, impugn, and show how clever and well read we are. But give us your solution – lets see your true colours.

    What exactly should this country do with people who arrive here otherwise than through normla channels.
    its so easy to critisize. so marilyn whats your solution what would you do if you had the power?

  15. Reply To Anonymous. Yes its sad. Our people are by nature such a gentle lot. You know I bet they just feel lower than low. I mean its always something else is more important isnt it. I asked Marilyn back on another post if she was interested in giving a hand to some of them given her compassion to people. She never replied. I just find that amazing. Why are we not putting our own first. If you saw the way some of them live you would think the detention centers were pretty ok and I am not kidding. The Government have stitched them up so they cant sell any of their farms lands and they dont have the cash or assistance to get business up and running. Its so bad the Federal Government have some funding available to create employment. I had better get back on post by saying I reckon if anybody could sort out who is who and where they came from it is them. Give them some boats and gear and let them do some boarder patrols.They would probably sort out who is who well before the detention camps.Anyway I am with who ever asked Marilyn how she would check these people out for disease and ID as well. Or anybody else who has got better ideas. I am only guessing however as this lot who run the detention centers are contracted theres the first big mistake. As they get paid per person they would be in no hurry to assist them. So get rid of them and put some jobs back on the table for Ausies. Now Marilyn would make a good social worker
    and others might like to do some gardening to make the place a bit nice.. The indigenous people could invite some of the ones who are realsed into society back to stay at their different camps to see how are real Australians live. Then we might get all those improvements that everybody wants. To get each branch of Rotary in Australia activley working on progects is not that hard. I kicked it off with the president but it takes someone else to put some real time into it. So if anybody really wants to help these people and our own all in one that would be great. We need indigenous interpreters and of course alcohol free zones[not free alchol].Let them sort out the boarders and the imagration centers. They would do a much better job . They know what its like to have nothing and we would never miss a boat.

  16. red crab

    I think I’ve responded to your question in comment #64. In short though, I think people need to remember that mandatory detention means what it says – a legal requirement that makes it mandatory for all unathorised arrivals to be detained, regardess of any other circumstances and for as long as it takes (unless the Minister decides otherwise) until a visa is issued. The issue (for me at least) isn’t ‘should people never be detained’, but rather ‘under what circumstances is it justified and for how long’.

    Taking away people’s freedom when they have not commited any crime (let alone been charged or convicted of one) is a very serious thing for any government to do, and should only be for as short a time as possible and in as rare circumstances as possible. The UNCHR has developed guidelines to meet these criteria, and that’s what we should be implementing.

    I think Marilyn’s comments at #48 and #59 (leavng aside some of the aggro) also provides some information that puts Australia’s approach in a wider comparitive context.

  17. Today the report into what seems to have been the unlawful detention of more than 200 people will be released by the Ombudsman.

    Vivian Alvarez is set to receive more than $1 million in compensation for the catastrophic circumstances of her exile to another place for 4 years, it doesn’t seem to be enough to me for the trauma this poor woman has suffered. I hope that there is some cash for the children who were forbibly deprived of their mother for more than 4 years as well.

    Robert Jovicic has a reprieve to allow him to appeal his deportation and still this forum can’t get past slagging off on me.

    I don’t froth and foam Ken, I am perfectly rational but I do become very frustrated when it is considered that you don’t actually read what I say.

    There is absolutely no need to lock up people to see if they are ill. In fact when we lock them up we scarcely bother.

    The Woomera records show that a 12 year old sole Afghan child had leprosy but he was locked up and it wasn’t discovered until months later when his foster parents had him to doctors. When the centre was checked one other unaccompanied child had leprosy that had already turned into a number of lesions. If he was in the community this little boy would have got treatment and the other boy wouldn’t have caught leprosy from him.

    Another friend of mine caught para-typhoid in Indonesia after the AFP turned she and her husband into the Indonesian police and they were sent to jail for 3 months before the UNHCR got them out.

    She was not treated and her baby girl born three after her release 4 years ago suffers from multiple health problems that she should not have. If they had been in the community she would have had decent medical care and her child would be healthy.

    A 9 year old girl is brought to Australia after being raped in Iran by a janitor and the Iranian police say it is legal for a muslim man in Iran to rape a christian child so the father is jailed for reporting it. The child is suicidal and left untreated for over a year she hangs herself and almost dies. In the community she would not have been left untreated in this way and would have been a much healthier child today.

    Shayan Badraie has just been awarded $400,000 for the trauma of watching people slash up and hang themselves. In the community he would not have seen that and would be the normal child he was when he arrived.

    People can be quarantined briefly while they have s blood test and chest x-ray. Can anyone tell me why they have to be locked up anytime after that unless they are found by ASIO to be mass murderers or serious criminals of some kind?

    Should sick children be locked up without medical care only to spread it? Another young girl I know have early stages TB and was locked up for 48 days, what was the point? She was 17 years old and didn’t have any treatment until she was in the community so she was contagious instead of being nearly cured.

    When people are thrown into the holes like Woomera and Baxter they are not told they can have lawyers and so some like Peter Qasim get forgotten for 7 years and cost nearly $1 million only to have DIMA be forced to release them.

    many on this forum seem to run away with the notion that the prisons are holiday camps of some kind and refuse to understand that this is still not the case. BAxter in particular was built so that the only thing that could be seen was the sky and the ground. People went rapidly insane in that place.

    A woman is forced to have a caesarean against her will and forgets how to speak, nearly dies and then she is released but only into a mental hospital where she is locked in a single room with her husband, away from her children and loses the ability to walk. She is now a permanent citizen of Australia yet the cost was over $5 million to drive her insane and almost kill her.

    Anyone here think I am exaggerating? Go and read the transcripts for the “A Last Resort” report regarding children in detention. It is all there.

    Time and again Ruddock appealed positive decisions for people found by his department to be refugees in need of protection and that kept innocent men, women and children locked up sometimes for years longer than necessary at huge cost.

    Before we all became of the TAMPA and Ruddock’s rot about queues and so on he was well aware that over 95% of the Afghans and almost 100% of the Iraqis were genuine refugees. Why lock them all up after that? We were running the sanctions and helping to starve innocent people then locking them up here. Why?

    Do you all know that at the beginning of the Afghan war there were 477 AFghans locked up and some were only released this year? Why would we keep spending money to lock up Afghans when we know very well what the conditions in their country are?

    Now Ken, when people fly here they are allowed to live in the community and get medical care pretty quickly. Trouble is most of them are not refugees and so they get lost in the system so we seem to have the need to punish real refugees because of that.

    As for the proper channels – the only proper channel for an on-shore refugee claimant is to be in the Australian migration zone, whereever that is on any given day.

    A briding visa after medical checks and let people report to a case worker once a week is all that is required once people have been screened in as probably refugees – in almost all the cases of Afghans and Iraqis that took less than 2 weeks.

    Yet some stayed locked up for 4, 5, 6 years – what for? They were refugees when they got here and refugees after all those years locked up.

  18. Marilyn,
    You said: “A woman is forced to have a caesarean against her will and forgets how to speak, nearly dies and then she is released but only into a mental hospital where she is locked in a single room with her husband, away from her children and loses the ability to walk.”

    It seems highly unlikely to me that any woman would be forced to have an unnecessary C-Section. It would actually constitute a very serious form of assault w GBH and I doubt any O&G would undertake such a procedure without a court order (for which there may be quite valid reasons, especially considering your description of her ‘forgetting’ how to speak).

    Do you know any of the details or where same could be accessed?

    I am interested as quite a few of these claims seem very anecdotal and hyperbolic and this would be one capable of some sort of verification.

  19. Marilyn, Nobody says that these people should be treated inhumanely. The majority of people do think that these people should not be locked up for a long period. But by your own posts you say that many come with diseases and issues. If the Detention Centres are not doing their job properly and humanely then that is a problem with the administration and workings of the Detention Centre not a problem with the Policy of Mandatory Detention.

    You said “People can be quarantined briefly while they have s blood test and chest x-ray. Can anyone tell me why they have to be locked up anytime after that unless they are found by ASIO to be mass murderers or serious criminals of some kind”

    Marilyn your obvious low standards scare me. You believe that only if they are mass murderers or serious criminals should they be retained, and only if ASIO can identify them by the time they have had a Chest x-ray and blood test? The moderate to mild criminals seem to be an acceptable addition to Australia for you.

    I believe that it is not acceptable to the majority of Australians.

  20. Jane the woman’s story was reported broadly in the media during 2002 – the ombudsman found that DIMA and ACM had forced her to have a C-section against her will. Actually she had a number of guards in the room with her at the time “in case she ran away”.

    Why on earth would I make it up? I have met her husband and oldest son – the oldest boy was locked up for over three years seeing all this and is as deeply traumatised as anyone I have ever seen and he is only 9.

    Anon the problem with your assertion is that I would only allow criminals to be locked up is that the criminals AREN’T LOCKED UP. The criminals roam free in the community while the victims are locked up.

    That is the problem.

    Why would I make it up? Come on, Jane you go and read the transcript for the HREOC report for yourself don’t expect me to do it for you. It’s all there.

  21. Marilyn, I dont quite understand what you are trying to say when you responded to me. Can you be more specific?

    Oh and its not that you make up stories as such it is just that stories can be told so many different ways. I cant help but feel that there is more to this story than meets the eye and that even if the mother did not want a c-section, the doctors obviously thought it was in the best interest of the child. So in those circumstances it could be said to have been done against her will, I just find it hard to believe that they did a c’section just to do the mother or baby harm. Maybe I am wrong, I would be interested in reading the whole story – can you post a link or give some better directions on how to find the details on HREOC as your vague directions make me wonder whether you want the story read or just your version believed.

    I wish the doctors had of given me a C’section, even against my will when I was giving birth to my son, then my son wouldn’t have been injured during birth and wouldn’t have a permanent disability. I wonder, was the baby born safely and without damage?

  22. Marilyn,

    Is this it:
    ” Mother was taken to Port Augusta because of her pregnancy. She remained in hospital for 20 days, after 15 days she had a caesarean. She is unclear why she was to have this procedure as [it] wasn’t term and there were no signs of labour. She alleges she had no regular access to an interpreter, only telephone access upon medical request. She was supervised 24 hours by ACM staff. She describes feelings of powerlessness and isolation while in the hospital. She had little contact with her family. She says she went on hunger strike while in the hospital, due to her frustration regarding lack of communication with family and issues around the birth…”

    Certainly not ideal and in a perfect world there would have been an interpreter with her and family support. I believe that you have worked in theatres so I guess you are aware how difficult it is sometimes for people to be properly consented even when they speak English.

    What I find disturbing about your spin on the situation is that you are quite happy to allege serious criminal misconduct against medical staff who are themselves working in sub-optimal conditions. I don’t think you should paint them as the villains here just to further your agenda.

  23. Oh and while we’re on it marilyn it doesn’t help when HREOC quote alleged events as if they actually occurred in their reports.

  24. Forced to have a caesarean…

    “Her second child was born in a hospital hundreds of kilometres away by caesarean section that she says she did not understand or consent to.

    This occurred after a period of 4 weeks enforced bed rest, away from her husband and son, under guard in the hospital. Around the due date, a drip was put up and her waters broke. She did not have any contractions. Several days later she thought nutrients were being
    put into the drip, but woke up to find she had had a caesarean. “

  25. Is this the same person? I’m confused.
    The quote I took from the HREOC report was the only one I could find that related to C-section.

  26. How are you going M.
    I also think there would be more to the bring on the baby story. Some women only dream of a C. I guess if there were bringing it on they would have had advise. Possibly if sercurity were being paid they may have found it less expensive. Perfectly understandable. I wanted to ask you are you Muslim or united Church etc.? Of course you dont have to answer. Tell you what there are plenty of aboriginal women who would like to have had such medical attention and every day young struggling families for that matter who could never afford it.

  27. Yes Wendy. I know of a mother who’s first child was born in the Public System. The Public System was always so understaffed, underfunded and busy that nobody really had the time to check anything or listen to the mothers serious concerns about the size of the baby. On the day she went into labour there they were so busy that there were no doctors available to check the mother at all. There were complications at birth, the doctor couldnt’ make it, the midwife panicked and the baby suffered a permanent disability.

    Then the hospital was so full that they didn’t have a bed for this mother, they left her in the corridors, not knowing what was wrong with her baby or whether he was alright and with no bed to rest in after the ordeal. Over 3 Hours later she was given a bed, then after waiting another anguishing hour asking about her baby and to see her baby she found out that her baby was paralysed on his left side and was in special care.

    The way it sound to me, this woman Marilyn talks about was given better care and treatment than this particular mother that I am talking about. I just dont know what these people expect and want. She was put into bed rest for a month in a public hospital and then was given a c’section, no doubt for the sake of the baby. That to me is being looked after. She may not have been able to get an interpreter, well this mother that I am talking about couldn’t get a doctor or a bed and if she had of had been lucky enough to get a doctor a c’section would have been performed and the baby wouldn’t have suffered a permanet disability.

    It just seems that for people that come from a country with such poor facilities, they expect and demand some pretty high standard from here.

  28. Hi Wendy,

    I would not think that security costs would have any bearing on a decision for a C-section (and this would also breach medical ethics and be a legal minefield).

    However looking at the details now available from Geoff’s post:

    “4 weeks enforced bed rest” =
    Most likely, pregnancy at risk (perhaps pre-eclampsia, but also a lot of other possible scenarios)

    “Around the due date, a drip was put up and her waters broke.”
    I am unsure from this if waters broke spontaneously or was part of an attempt to induce labour. Either way it would be standard, safe medical practice to deliver an ‘at-risk’ baby no later than this time. (To leave delivery would greatly increade risks to mother and child, and a stillbirth would be tragic and look very bad on HREOC report)

    ” She did not have any contractions. Several days later …..”
    This also seems very unusual that they would leave a term woman with ruptured membranes for such a long period but the baby at this stage would need urgent delivery.

    So yes, it’s all in the telling.
    I hope I haven’t bored you with all these details but I think it puts another perspective on a very emotive issue.

  29. Jolanda,
    Sounds like your friend’s baby had an Erb’s palsy from delivery – is this right?
    Fortunately most babies will recover within 3 months of delivery, but some don’t fully recover.

    Unfortunately, it is often impossible to tell that a baby’s shoulders will cause a problem until the head is out – too late for a C-section. I can assure you that doctors get a bit panicky in this situation as well. Midwives on the whole do a magnificent job.

  30. Jane, yes the baby suffered Erbs Palsy and didn’t recover completely, the child’s arm is fixed in internal rotation and has no external rotation at all and the arm is shorter and less developed.

    Of course you cant blame the midwife, it wasn’t her fault she didn’t have the support that she needed and didn’t know the manouvre necessary when babies present this way. It was obvious that she panicked and just pulled and twisted with all her might. She meant no harm, she didnt’ want the baby to die, it was just unfortunate.

    Thing was that this mother was complaining about the size of the baby to anybody that would listen, but nobody would listen. The mother is little and the baby was huge. Nobody had the time to stop and listen and check, they were too busy. It would have been obvious had they taken the time.

    It’s a systemic problem as the Doctors, nurses and midwives often cannot cope and provide an adequate level of care in the conditions that they are expected to function.

  31. Jolanda Your one hundre percent right and as we dont know the full facts on the face it looks like she got better than many do.

    no Jane I dont mind at all and your certainly not a bore.

    I come on here to get a break from Animal Welfare.
    Its so sad looking at this misery that people turn their backs on.

    I do get upset by people who expect too much and i think M is a bit racist towards us.

    That bugs me.
    Why live here if you dont like us and dont have a good word to say > Ever.
    I would have thought she would be happy with the 42 we let stay putting our necks out, but no.

    Now we are all reasonsible for their choice to send kids here without parents.
    Give me a break.
    Its not like we put them on a ship.
    We are good people but enough is enough. Now sbe wants us to go back and look for the parents .
    perhaps she she go and see how nice they are to her if she said Hi I am From Australia.

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