Friday, February 4, 2005

Australian held in Baxter detention centre

It has been revealed an Australian resident has been locked up in Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia for the past four months. Authorities had been unable to establish her identity since she was found wandering in far north Queensland last September.

The young woman, who refugee advocates claim suffers from a mental illness, has been released.

It is understood she is being flown to Adelaide.

Immigration Department spokesman Andrew Gavin says the woman's identity has now been confirmed.

"A woman who had been in immigration detention at Baxter has been identified as a permanent resident of Australia and arrangements are being made to reunite her with her family here," he said.

"She's no longer in immigration detention and she's being cared for at the moment by state authorities."

Mr Gavin says the department made extensive efforts to establish the woman's identity.

"She was located by police in another state and presented to us as being a possible unlawful non-citizen," he said.

"She had no identifying documents and spoke both another language and English and also provided conflicting personal details.

"The department went to great lengths in Australia and overseas to identify her."

'Reprehensible' treatment

Labor's immigration spokesman, Laurie Ferguson, says the treatment of the woman is reprehensible.

"You would wonder whether every person that for some reason wanders around with difficulties and doesn't have identification on them, whether the Government just all of a sudden assumes that they're an illegal or an over-stayer," he said.

"I don't know why that's prima facie the case."

By Just Us 4 February 05

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