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Govt searching for wrongly deported woman -

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Govt searching for wrongly deported woman

Reporter: Margot O'Neill

TONY JONES: Now to the story of the lost Australian woman who was wrongly deported by the Federal
Government four years ago. Lateline now believes the woman, who was an Australian citizen, was sent
to the Philippines, the country where she was born. The Federal Government has admitted that they
are now looking for the woman, but haven't yet been able to find her. There are also concerns
tonight that the number of cases of wrongful detention to be investigated has blown out to more
than 100. This report from Margot O'Neill.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Lateline understands that the Australian citizen, deported in 2001, was sent back
to the Philippines, her country of birth. It's understood she had a serious mental disorder and
that her marriage here in Australia had broken down. But so far, the Australian Government has been
unable locate her. And that's not surprising, according to some critics of the government's policy.

PHIL GLENDENNING, CO-AUTHOR OF 'DEPORTED TO DANGER': We deport people, we dump them, we leave them.
The government take absolutely no concern in what happens to people who are deported from
Australia.

MARGOT O'NEILL: The case of the deported Australian woman is now being investigated by the same
government inquiry set up to examine the case of Cornelia Rau. Rau was an Australian permanent
resident suffering schizophrenia, who disappeared inside the immigration detention system for 11
months. But these two cases may be just the tip of the iceberg. So far, the government has admitted
33 cases of possible wrongful detention of either Australians or foreigners holding valid visas.
But that figure covers just a 7-month period. The government has now extended its review to cover
nearly three years, and Lateline believes that's thrown up more than 100 cases. The government
refuses to say how many cases, and Acting Immigration Minister Peter McGauran has pointed out that
many may have been mistakes that were quickly sorted out.

PETER McGAURAN, ACTING IMMIGRATION MINISTER: It could be five minutes, it could be longer. We've
produced a lot of material which we now hand to Mr Palmer. He'll decide which ones, after
scrutinising them, he should investigate more fully.

MARGOT O'NEILL: But Lateline has also been told of a range of examples where people, often mentally
ill and with poor English, have been detained for weeks and months, and there could also be other
instances of women wrongly deported after failed marriages.

KEITH WILSON, MENTAL HEALTH COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA: The risk of being picked up by DIMIA is made
worse by the fact that they, on the basis of their mental illness and on the basis of them speaking
a foreign language, they are at risk of being picked up, incarcerated and deported - even though
they are Australian citizens.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Once in the system, critics say Australia's high standard of civil liberties are
largely suspended.

DAVID MANNE, REFUGEE AND IMMIGRATION LEGAL CENTRE: When you're in the system, there's no automatic
right to a legal advisor. There's also the very real possibility of being locked up in solitary
confinement for weeks or months with no access or ability to communicate with the outside world at
all. We're looking at a system in which people are permanently, indefinitely imprisoned with no
right of review at all.

MARGOT O'NEILL: The lawyers acting for Cornelia Rau's family are offering to help any other family
to take legal action against the government and urge them to come forward.

PROFESSOR RAY WATTERSON, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE LEGAL CENTRE: We'd be saying to anyone out there
that may have been caught up in this affair, that they need to consult a lawyer and they certainly
can't rely on DIMIA and the officials. Quite clearly it was the officials that have got us into
this mess. And any person that's been caught up in it, any member of their family, needs to get
some independent legal advice.

MARGOT O'NEILL: There's also some concern how the Cornelia Rau investigation, headed by former AFP
chief Mick Palmer, will handle such a workload. It has yet to finish its investigation into just
one case after three months, and there are questions about how it would cope with more than 100 new
investigations. Margot O'Neill, Lateline.