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Immigration dumps sick child on remote island
Is it possible that DIMIA will never learn?

By Frank Marrinan
Possum News Network
4 June 2006

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone’s troops have whipped a sick, nine-year old child out of a Brisbane hospital and dumped the her and her Afghani asylum-seeker parents on Horne Island, a rocky speck a couple of hours fast boat-run from Cape York.

News of the event is circulating urgently on the refugee advocates’ network headed “DIMIA holding family in hiding – grave concerns for sick child.”

The family made landfall on Saibai Island off the North Queensland coast around 26 May, seeking refuge and urgent medial treatment for the child. They had apparently travelled from West Papua.

Their arrival went virtually unreported, but when Amnesty International and a member of Queensland’s Afghan community went to visit the family at Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital where the child had been prepared for an operation, they were blocked by guards.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs staff then turned up and removed the family more than a thousand kilometres north to Horne Island – originally “an undisclosed destination” because, said Dimia, the family did not want to see Amnesty or the Red Cross.

A ‘likely story’ Asylum-seeker advocates said. Pamela Curr, campaign coordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) put it this way: “DIMIA's claims are not believable. To expect advocates to believe that a refugee family would refuse support from human rights groups is not credible especially from a department with the track record of DIMIA”.

It’s understood the reason the family embarked on the dangerous sea voyage was to get medical treatment for their child.

So where are they now? They were last known to be on Horne Island where they were being held with three West Papuans who were also picked up en route to Australia and refugee advocates fear all will be shipped out on a 4.00 am Alliance Airlines chartered flight to Nauru.

Horne Island is a novel listing in Australia’s excluded offshore islands. Unless it’s been built up and ‘tourist-ised’ in the last decade or so, about all it has to offer is a navigation light, associated equipment and a few temporary fishermen’s shacks.

“What is happening to this family is the result of the legislation which makes it possible for the government to refuse legal advice or representation to persons who arrive on Australian islands which have been excised”, says Pamela Curr. “While these people may be designated by DIMIA to be ‘Offshore Entry Persons’ and as such have no rights, we remind DIMIA that they are still human beings.”

Refugee advocates are calling on supporters to ring the Minister’s office demanding – nicely, they stress – that the family have access to support and care for the sick child. Another useful action would be to call a talkback radio program and let Australians what is happening … but it might be best to avoid The Parrot.