In the News

Adopted girl banned from entering Australia because she’s classified an immigration threat.

28/09/2010

A VICTORIAN family has been torn apart after Australian immigration officials in London ruled their five-year-old adopted daughter was an unacceptable immigration threat. African hearts Melbourne mum, Helen Coates, describes her heartache at being unable to bring her adoptive daughter Isimbi home.

Helen Coates and Stuart Kruse, both Australian citizens, were banned from bringing Isimbi, adopted from Rwanda, back into the country. The distraught mum was forced to board a flight to Melbourne last week, leaving her daughter and husband behind in Britain.  “We’re simply shell-shocked by the decision,” Ms Coates said. “And have been left emotionally drained after arguing our case for five days last week. “We’ve just tried so, so hard to give her stability, security, love, attention, family – all the things that were missing from her life until we adopted her last year.”

The couple are heartbroken their application for a tourist visa to allow Isimbi to live in the country for less than three months was rejected. They have been living in London for more than a decade but returned to Australia after Mr Kruse lost his banking job during the global financial crisis. They only got approval to adopt a little girl after Mr Kruse secured contract work in Melbourne. Isimbi, an outgoing girl with an infectious grin, has been living in Mt Martha with her adoptive parents for the past year on a 12-month visa. They always planned to return to the UK to formalise the adoption process (currently they are only classed as her legal guardians). This would give Isimbi entitlement to a British passport and enable them to return to Australia as a family. But they wanted Mr Kruse to finish his contract and see out the year before saying goodbye to their family and friends.

Acting on advice from immigration lawyers, the family returned to the UK to apply for a tourist visa. But at 5pm the day before they were due to fly out, they learnt that the visa had been rejected. Officials told them they were knocked back because they thought the parents would allow their daughter to overstay her visa. “When it takes four immigration officers 12 man-hours to deliberate a five-year-old’s three-month tourist visa, we need to seriously question what is meant by protecting Australia’s borders,” Ms Coates said. “Why would we risk years of the stress, anguish and uphill battle that is the overseas adoption process?”

Mr Kruse remains in London with Isimbi. He is trying to get work and find a school for her. He said she was already starting to miss her mother, who is frantically packing up their lives in Australia. “She just keeps saying when is Mummy coming back?” he said. “She doesn’t understand why they won’t let her into Australia.” A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department said it could not discuss individual cases. “Before granting a visa we must be satisfied that an applicant intends to abide by all conditions of the visa,” she said. “With tourist visa applications this includes being satisfied that a genuine visit is intended.”

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Australian immigration protest ends safely.

24/09/2010

SYDNEY — A group of Chinese nationals who were threatening to jump off a Sydney immigration detention centre have ended their protest peacefully, officials said Friday. Four men and four women — one of whom was pregnant, according to activists — came down from the two-storey building’s roof late on Thursday, after a vigil of about 30 hours. Another of the group had ended his protest slightly earlier. The demonstration, aimed at seeking a review of their cases, follows the death of a Fijian man who jumped off a building at the Villawood centre on Monday, and another rooftop protest by a group of Sri Lankan Tamils. Immigration officials said two of the protesters, who had refused food and water during the demonstration, were in hospital as a precaution. They denied making any deals with the group.

Australia has a policy of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers while their claims are processed, and generally holds detainees on remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. But increasing numbers of illegal immigrants arriving by boat — more than 4,000 so far this year — have forced the reopening of mainland centres, including Villawood, which houses about 300 people. Activists say the Chinese, from the southeastern province of Fujian, arrived on tourist and student visas and have been detained for between two weeks and six months. Immigration officials said they had either breached their visa conditions or stayed longer than was allowed.

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Chinese tourist numbers to Australia set for massive boom

21/09/2010

China’s largest airline has made a fourfold increase in direct flights to Australia in preparation for a future boom in Chinese tourists. The number of Chinese tourists to Australia are expected to boom in the next few years. Last year 366,000 Chinese tourists visited Australia and spent $2.8 billion, and this year China overtook Japan to become Australia’s fourth-largest source of tourists, behind New Zealand, Britain and the US. China Southern Airlines president Tan Wangeng hopes to capitalise on the growth of wealth in China’s middle class and confidence in the stability of Australia-China relations under the Gillard government.

”1.3 billion Chinese people have become rich; they need to travel abroad and they need to consume their money,” Mr Tan said. ”Why Australia? … Australia is well endowed with tourism resources, the climate is different to China and the people of Australia and China are friendly without any conflict,” he said.

To visit Australia all international travellers, unless they have an Australian or New Zealand passport, must have an Australian Travel Visa. The most popular of these is the ETA Visa, which can be quickly and easily applied for online. A Chinese tourism boom is expected to revive Australian destinations hit by a drop in Japanese tourists and the relatively high spending rate of Chinese tourists in Australia means China is forecast to be the highest-value market within seven years. ”Three years ago we used to talk about China as an emerging market, but it has fully emerged,” said Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy.

By 2020, Mr McEvoy predicts some 830,000 Chinese travellers will be spending $8 billion a year but if China Southern succeeds in its strategy of expansion, promotion and discount fares even this prediction will be too low. Mr Tan said the number of Chinese tourists to Australia could grow by 50 per cent next year alone. China Southern now runs three flights a week out of Guangzhou to Melbourne and daily flights to Sydney, giving it a greater market share than its two Chinese competitors combined. From November 1 China Southern will introduce twice-daily flights from Guangzhou to Sydney, daily flights to Melbourne and three flights a week to Brisbane. By next March the airline plans to have twice-daily flights to Melbourne, daily flights to Brisbane and flights to a fourth city such as Cairns.

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Visa processing system will not be changed

20/09/2010

The Australian Immigration Department said it will not change it’s visa processing system based on a continuing protest at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. Protesters have spent the night on the roof of the Detention Centre in a demonstration sparked by the death of a Fijian detainee yesterday. 36 year old Josefa Rauluni died yesterday, after writing a letter to the Immigration Department that he wanted to remain in Australia. He was expected to be deported to Fiji yesterday.

Late yesterday afternoon three men climbed onto the roof of the detention centre and were later joined by another eight men. They are still there and say they will not come down until the Australian Immigration Department agrees to an independent review of their applications for asylum. Temperatures reached a low of about 9 degrees Celsius in Villawood overnight. However the Immigration Department’s National Communications Manager, Sandi Logan said the non-compliance of the detainees will not change the department’s approach. Logan said the protestors have blankets and have been offered food and water.

Human rights activist Sara Nathan has been in contact with the protestors throughout the night and said the men are calm but determined to stay. Specialist negotiators are now trying to get a number of the asylum seekers off the Villawood roof.

The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul told the ABC that nine of the protesters are Tamils and a member of the Sri Lankan community had been allowed inside Villawood to talk to the protesters. Meanwhile Police in New South Wales are investigating Josefa Rauluni’s death.

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