Saturday, February 19, 2005

Archival Rescue 2 ~ Aus Detention

Ana Schmidt.

Vanstone "knew Rau was being held at Baxter"
February 7, 2005 - 8:06AM, AAP - Sydney Morning Herald

A refugee advocate today said Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone knew for 10 months that a mentally ill Australian woman was locked up in immigration detention.

The federal government has promised an inquiry into how Cornelia Rau came to be locked up at South Australia's Baxter detention centre, despite being listed as a missing person.

She spent six months in a Queensland jail before being sent to Baxter, where she was held for four months after telling authorities she was a German woman named Anna Schmidt.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre spokeswoman Pamela Curr today said she believed Senator Vanstone knew about Ms Rau's case for 10 months.

"You have to put to the minister that she knew for the last 10 months, because even when Cornelia was in the Brisbane prison system she was under the care and custody of the Immigration Department," Ms Curr told Channel Nine.

"Because what they do is they make the prison a place of (immigration) detention.

"So, for 10 months the department has had this woman in their care."

Ms Curr said she and her colleagues had asked Senator Vanstone's office in January this year for help in their mission to find Ms Rau's family and identify her.

She said a refugee advocate told her last night that the minister had sent them an email about their search.

"Now the minister was acknowledging what was happening (in the email)," Ms Curr said.

"I did not personally speak to the minister, but I did speak to her advisers."
Ms Curr said if Senator Vanstone did not know about Ms Rau's detention, her competence as a minister should be questioned.

"And I don't think many question her competence," Ms Curr said.

"She must have been aware of it."

Ms Curr said Ms Rau's case was not unique, with many other asylum seekers being refused medical treatment despite being suicidal and depressed.

"What happened to Cornelia is not unique," she said.

"Sure it happened to a blonde, iconic (former) Qantas air hostess ... but it's happening every day to asylum seekers."



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