Following is an excerpt from Mike Head’s insightful article on the plight of Cornelia Rau and the arc light it shines on the ‘culture’ of detention:
“On “Four Corners”, barrister Claire O’Connor, who now acts for Rau, ascribed her maltreatment to a “mindset” in the detention centres and mental health services that detainees fake psychiatric problems for “some ulterior motive”. This “mindset,” however, does not originate in these facilities. It is the inevitable product of the detention regime itself.
In order to enforce the system and poison public opinion, both the previous Labor government and the current Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard have systematically demonised asylum seekers. They have labelled them “queue jumpers”—as if those fleeing persecution should wait in an orderly line. Howard and his ministers have falsely accused refugees of throwing their children into the ocean to try to coerce the government into allowing them entry. When desperate detainees have staged protest hunger strikes, Howard’s ministers have contemptuously dismissed them as publicity-seekers and refused to discuss their complaints.
If Rau had been a genuine asylum seeker, rather than an Australian resident, she would almost certainly have remained in detention, denied elementary care. Countless detainees are still suffering as Rau did. Dr Howard Gorton, a former Baxter psychiatrist, told “Four Corners”: “The people I saw and treated at Baxter were the most damaged people I’ve seen in my whole psychiatric career. Up until that time, I’d never met an adult-onset bedwetter. I’d never met someone with psychological blindness. And there were also a few physically crippled people who believed they were unable to walk, and this was probably psychological too.”
Amir Javan, a refugee who met Rau in Baxter, said: “Cornelia Rau has been discovered at least. She’s got a family in Australia to look after her. But we should think about the rest of the girls that are still there and they haven’t got anyone. They haven’t got anyone, and no-one comes to find out what’s going on about them.”
Immigration minister Vanstone has issued a series of chilling responses to the Rau revelations. While claiming that she cannot comment because of Palmer’s inquiry, she has flatly defended Rau’s confinement in Baxter Red 1 compound, telling “Four Corners” that “I think that’s where she would frankly be safer”.”
Isn’t it comforting to know that Senator Vanstone takes her ‘duty of care’ responsibilities so seriously!