11 Sep 2015

A life in Australia - and facing deportation

6:54 pm on 11 September 2015

A 40-year-old-woman who has spent most of her life in Australia could be deported to New Zealand for relatively minor offences dating back to 2008.

Australian police

Photo: AFP

Angela Russell has lived in Australia since she was three, and is raising two children there, but had her visa and passport cancelled after she was jailed for petty theft.

At the end of her sentence, she was taken to the Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin.

Her lawyer, Lyma Nguyen, told Checkpoint the way in which Australia's Department of Immigration was handling her case did not follow the process outlined on its own website.

Ms Nguyen said the department initially withheld so much information that she did not even know why Russell was in detention.

"She's been in the Darwin detention centre since April this year and, to date, we have no responses from the Department of Immigration as to what's going on with her case, whether it's being considered and what it's likely to be," she said.

"She does have a record, which adds up to a period of imprisonment of 12 months or more, and for that reason she fell within the scope of the new legislation that came in just in December last year - and combined with the mandatory detention regime that we have here, officers of the department are mandated to detain those who fall within that category of person."

She said the department had told her that it would not respond to correspondence seeking updates on Russell's case.

"She has been in immigration detention approaching nearly six months - that's a deprivation of her liberty."

Dozens of people have been locked up awaiting deportation across the Tasman since Australia toughened up its laws nine months ago.