Leaked Report Details More Problems In Rau Detention Case
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 6, 2005
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA--A draft of an official report regarding the Immigration Department's improper 10-month detention of an Australian citizen with mental illness, which has been leaked to the press, revealed a number of errors which led to her mistreatment and likely caused her schizophrenia to become worse.
According to several Australian news accounts, the section of the report by Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer shows that Cornelia Rau was denied proper medical attention, that she was placed in a Queensland prison for six months even though this was supposed to have been a 'last resort', and that she likely would have given her true identity if she had spent less time in the immigration detention center.
Police picked up the 39-year-old Rau in March of 2004 after she walked a thousand miles from a Sydney psychiatric ward. When Rau spoke only in German and gave a false name, they turned her over to immigration officials who then sent her to Baxter Detention Center.
A mental health professional at Baxter recommended that Rau be evaluated for mental illness and receive psychiatric treatment. During the next 10 months, however, she received no therapies, but instead was sent to the local prison where she was placed in solitary confinement.
She was finally released this past February after family members identified her from news reports.
Officials noted that the draft section of Palmer's report does not give an accurate picture of the problems within the immigration system, as Palmer's complete report is expected to do when it is released within the next two weeks. Palmer's inquiry has expanded to more than 200 cases of alleged improper detention and mistreatment.
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott condemned the Immigration Department Wednesday for its handling of Rau's treatment.
"She was simply a person who desperately needed help," Abbott said.
George Newhouse, an attorney representing another Australian citizen with mental illness who was wrongly deported to the Philippines four years ago, said of the immigration service: "It is a culture of contempt for human life and it lacks the most basic elements of compassion and human decency."
"The Palmer report gives us an insight into a department with a cowboy culture that is simply out of control," Newhouse told the Australian Associated Press.
"Leaked report gives Rau's family new hope" (AAP)
"Damning report on Rau affair" (The Age)
"Rau detention 'embarrassed' Government" (AAP)
"Rau's odyssey" (The Age)