We are a nation of travellers. This could befall any of our children; travelling in a strange land, they could suffer a psychotic episode, breach their visa conditions and let us pray they would receive more sympathetic and humane treatment than we are meting out to Anna, No.BX8311, presently incarcerated in a RED ONE isolation cell in Baxter. Under our existing flawed law, unless the person detained, signs a form giving permission for a lawyer to act on their behalf, NO-ONE can help. There is no mechanism to assist someone in detention who is not mentally capable of acting in their own best interests. Anna, a young German - speaking girl, has been locked up in Baxter since the 29th November. She is locked in an isolation cell for 18 hours per day. She is allowed out into the open air for 6 hours per day. Such is her terror of being put back into this cell that it takes 6 guards in full riot gear to manhandle her back into the room and close the heavy door. We have reports from witnesses thatthe guards are enjoying this aspect of Anna's behaviour. (Two children are presently detained in Baxter – is this the sort of thing we should allow impressionable young minds to be exposed to?) Detainees have repeatedly expressed concern about this young girl. They believe that she is mentally ill. Her unpredictable and bizarre behaviour, lack of communication and distress continue to worry fellow detainees. She exhibits psychotic symptoms, screaming and talking to herself at times and screams in terror often for long periods especially when locked in the cell. Visitors who have attempted to engage with her say that she does not make eye contact and avoids interaction. Detainees have attempted to get her trust but have been unable to get her to see anyone.
Anna has refused to sign a form requesting legal help so no-one is allowed to assist or assess her. We are worried that she may not be mentally competent to act in her best interests. However under the Migration Act no one is allowed to act on her behalf unless she requests this in writing. Now the German consulate say that they do not believe that she is a German citizen. They do not know who she is and have been unable to get information on her from police sources in Germany but say that she is not German! This leaves her to the fate of DIMIA and GSL. Anna is alone in Baxter. She is clearly mentally ill and needs care not incarceration and brute physical force. She is not going to recover by being locked up in an isolation cell for 18 hours a day. DIMIA may be using this method to attempt to get information from her. They say that they are focussed on finding out who she is. We would like to see DIMIA focus on providing her with the psychiatric care which she so obviously needs and show some concern for her terror and distress. All attempts to allow independent medical or psychiatric care, or asking the minister’s office to intervene have failed after 7 weeks of constant calls.
Please email/ fax your local member (ChilOut's Page for Elected Representatives and don’t forget your State’s Senators – of every persuasion) asking that Anna be immediately transferred to a psychiatric hospital and given the help she needs. How can a compassionate country treat any human being like this? This is another example of the need to reform the Migration Act. This degree of human suffering cannot be what its original drafters intended.
Thursday, January 27, 2005