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Immigration Officials Improperly Detained 11 Residents With Mental Illness
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 17, 2006

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA--At least 11 Australians with mental illness are among 60 people who have been held improperly in immigration detention centers, the country's top immigration official revealed over the weekend.

Andrew Metcalfe, the new secretary of the Department of Immigration, told The Sunday Age that immigration officials had failed to identify the Australians that had mental illness and deal with them appropriately. He blamed the failure on a culture within the department which automatically assumed that the detainees were illegal immigrants.

Metcalfe confirmed that the 60 cases are among 221 that the Ombudsman is reviewing while investigating misadministration in the department.

The issue of Australians with mental illness accused of being illegal immigrants came to the public's attention last February when it was found that German-born Australian Cornelia Rau had been held by immigration officials for 10 months. Investigators later learned that the 39-year-old, who has schizophrenia, had been neglected during her stay, and was held in isolation for at least two of those months.

Three months later, investigators learned that immigration officials had deported Vivian Alvarez, another Australian woman with mental illness, to the Philippines four years earlier.

The Age reported that a spokesperson was not able to say how many of the Australians had been sent out of the country.

"How we wrongly locked away 60 people" (The Age)

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