Man walks into Centrelink and winds up in Yongah Hill detention centre

Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon – Photos, David Mariuz and AP

Eddie David walked into Centrelink for financial assistance to undertake tuition but when his details were typed into the database an alert was flagged. The Department of Immigration were contacted. Mr David was hit with the allegation of being in breach of a visa – overstaying. However Mr David insisted they were mistaken and that he is Australian born and bred and of Torres Strait Islander origin. His protestations did not matter and he is detained at Yongah Hill detention centre, an hour north of Perth.

If what 39 year old Mr David said is true then it indicts the whole Immigration system – how could they make such an error? How robust is Immigration’s information gathering? Importantly why should it be possible to detain someone without substantive and qualified evidence, without a court appearance? The case of this man is reminiscent of the ten month long detainment of Cornelia Rau.

Ms Rau was an Australian permanent resident who was mistaken as having overstayed her visa. Therefore she was unlawfully detained by Immigration between 2004 and 2005. A few years earlier, in 2001, Vivian Alvarez Solon was wrongfully deported to the Philippines. Ms Solon was in fact an Australian.

How does the Department of Immigration get it so wrong?

Mr David has not been charged. His detainment Kafkaesque. The Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) has been supporting him. They have secured him a lawyer. They are calling for his release.

RRAN spokesperson, Victoria Martin-Iverson said, “His ordeal began when he went into Centrelink offices in Perth to try and get some funding to take some classes.”

“Somehow his name was flagged in their system and immigration was contacted and they have detained him.”

“(Immigration) insisted he was an Indian man and showed him a picture of an adolescent Indian they said was a picture of him as a child – a man they claim arrived in Australia over 30 years ago. He is being detained under that name at Yongah Hill IDC.”

“Incredibly he claims this is the second time he has been so detained after attending a Centrelink office, having been previously confused by immigration with the same Indian man. On the previous occasion he was detained for several days at Perth Immigration detention centre and released with an apology,” said Ms Martin-Iverson.

Mr David insists he is a Torres Strait Islander, hailing from the Murray Islands – as did Eddie Mabo. He is well known to Aboriginal organisations.

He insists that he is a victim of the Stolen Generations and that he grew up in the brutality of missions – including Davenport Mission, outside of Port Augusta.

“(Immigration) has failed to provide any evidence that this man was the 13 year old in the photo they presented to him,” said Ms Martin-Iverson.

It is abominable, but not unprecedented, that the Department of the Immigration has failed to investigate his claims as to his upbringing in the missions.

If Immigration is using some sort of facial recognition technology well it is not the first time technology that they have relied on has abysmally failed them. A few years ago the Australian Federal Police were arresting cooks and deckhands from boats of asylum seekers and charging them as people smugglers. They age tested them with a wrist bone age scan, that had little guarantee of getting the age right. As a result Australia incarcerated scores of Indonesian minors in adult prisons, as young as 13 years of age.

“The mistaken detention of an Australian citizen by a department that operates without restraint or suitable checks and balances is utterly appalling and underscores the dangers of the entire system of mandatory detention.  A system whereby persons are deemed guilty and detained without the involvement of the courts or any external authority is inevitably going to lead to this sort of error and violation of the principles of natural justice,” said Ms Martin-Iverson.

ABC journalist Nicolas Perpitch interviewed Mr David.

“I shouldn’t be in this detention centre. If it was a fraud they should have put me in the cell, in the lock-up, in the jail, not a detention centre” said Mr David to Mr Perpitch.

“I’m not a refugee and I’m not an immigrant. I am Aboriginal. I am an Australian citizen, born and bred of this land.”

But the Department of Immigration and Border Patrol insist that they have got it right.

“The Department detained an individual claiming to be an Australian citizen, following a thorough investigation by which the department was fully satisfied that he is an unlawful non-citizen.”

If they are wrong, how much else for how many others have they got wrong?

Jan. 03, 2012

How will I start this? Should I post Tagalog post instead of English? Why am I asking this to you guys, the reason is… some of the blogger’s here in tumblr. might say that I’m a filipino and I’m posting blog’s in english. You know other tumblr. bloggers “I don’t care if i write and type in English”, That’s me and I cannot change who the way I write my blogs. I’m used to write and type in English, so Please I Hope you guys understand why do I write in English… Plus many of my followers are from different countries which have different nationalities, languages, plus cultures. And the world’s national language is English, that is why I’m blogging and typing with this language. This is also a respect for my followers, if they don’t understand our language (w/c is tagalog) how can they understand my posts/blogs? See the benefits of writing in english? 

My opinion here is, I don’t care what language you write on your blog. But the problem is some blogger is so fucking stupid who told me that I don’t need to type in english. So pls. do understand, THANK YOU :)

“I just want respect from you, no need to argue with this, this is what I want. This is my blog, so you don’t care if I write in English…”