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Solons reunite in Philippines -

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Solons reunite in Philippines

Reporter: Margot O'Neill

TONY JONES: Vivian Solon appeared dazed and confused by all the attention. She was struggling to
remember details of her past life. Only yesterday, the missing woman was discovered lying in a
hospice for ill and dying elderly people in the northern Philippines. Today, surrounded by cameras,
she was reunited with her sister. She immediately said she'd like to return to Australia to see her
two sons, and was offered an apology from the Australian Government. But the mystery of her last
month's in Australia remains. Tonight, we have new information about Vivian Solon's medical
condition before she was wrongfully deported in 2001. This report from Margot O'Neill. The producer
was Hamish Fitzsimmons

MARGOT O'NEILL: Nearly four years after the Federal Government deported her to the Philippines
Vivian Alvarez Solon is trying to remember a past life, a past family, a sister, even her children.

VIVIAN ALVAREZ SOLON: I forgot about them. I can't remember her name. I've forgotten everything
now. I'm trying to recall...

REPORTER: Do you want to see your children?

VIVIAN ALVAREZ SOLON: Yes, I miss my children. Their faces have probably changed, I think.

MARGOT O'NEILL: But she doesn't want to blame anyone for being sent away from her home in Australia
where she lived for nearly 20 years.

VIVIAN ALVAREZ SOLON: I can't say whether it was wrong at that time, because I was not thinking at
the time.

MARGOT O'NEILL: The Australian Government, which deported her, today offered a formal apology and
it's promising the best of care for the 42-year-old invalid, who suffers memory loss, and who's
been living with the dying in this Catholic hospice since being deported.

FRANK EVATT, AUSTRALIAN CONSUL GENERAL, PHILIPPINES: She even indicated to me there was no need for
an apology. She understood that things can happen and that she has no misgivings or concerns about
that. She wants to look to the future, and that's what we want to help her to do. We want to make
sure she's looked after in the future just as well as she has been looked after in the last couple
of years.

VIVIAN ALVAREZ SOLON: Will you look after me?

CICILE SOLON, SISTER: Yes. I am stronger than you are right now, as you can see.

VIVIAN ALVAREZ SOLON: Have you got enough room for me?


MARGOT O'NEILL: Sister Cicile Solon says proper medical care is the priority for her long-lost

CICILE SOLON: She's got health problems and that is the priority of the Australian Government.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Australia's Consul-General in the Philippines confirmed that the Australian
Government had no idea of Vivian's whereabouts until last night.

FRANK EVATT: We've been devoting a lot of resources and efforts to trying to find Vivian, and so
we're very pleased that she's been found.

MARGO O'NEILL: But the priest who identified Vivian from a Lateline report last week is not

FATHER MICHAEL DUFFIN, SISTERS OF CHARITY MISSION: I find it hard to believe that they did not know
because they were the ones who brought her to Manila. They told her where they were bringing her
before they left Australia. They brought her there and they left her there and she's been in the
same place. She's never moved ever since.

MARGO O'NEILL: Vivian Solon's current medical problems raise questions about her medical condition
at the time of her deportation, when she was taken onto a plane in a wheelchair. Tonight, Lateline
has heard from two new witnesses. A former social worker at NSW's Lismore Base Hospital in 2001
says Vivian Solon was not in a car accident as has been reported.

BETTY GRAHAM-HIGGS, RETIRED SOCIAL WORKER: And she had been brought in by a passer-by who had found
her lying in a sort of gutter. She couldn't walk and she never walked when she was in Lismore
hospital. Well, the only way that she could have been injured like that was if she was beaten up.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Vivian was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital with a serious spinal injury, which
was operated on at Sydney's Liverpool Hospital in April before she was sent back to Lismore.

BETTY GRAHAM-HIGGS: When I first saw her in the hospital, she was hiding under the sheets. She was
very, very scared. In fact, terrified.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Vivian's last hours in Australia before being deported in 2001 were spent at a
motel on this street in Brisbane, according to a group of Filipino and religious workers who claim
they tried to intervene. One woman, who tried to find a lawyer for Vivian, says two members of the
group spoke to Vivian through the door of the motel room, which was blocked by an immigration
official. They say Vivian was shaking and complaining she had no money or clothes and that her
passport had been taken. They say immigration officials ordered them to leave. Vivian Solon may
well return to Australia still in a wheelchair. Her family is considering legal action against the
Federal Government.