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"Cornelia Rau Discoverer" speaks World Refugee Day

"Cornelia Rau Discoverer" to speak in Fremantle, WA

A Project SafeCom World Refugee Day event at Kulcha

Melbourne-based Refugee campaigner Ms Pamela Curr, who in collaboration with other advocates and detainees in the Baxter detention centre and subsequent assistance from The Age reporter Andra Jackson[1], "discovered" Cornelia Rau, who was locked away in the Baxter Isolation Compound from the latter half of 2004 until February 2005, will be the guest of West Australian Human Rights group Project SafeCom on 20 June, World Refugee Day.

([1] Andra Jackson won the HREOC Human Rights Print Media Award and the Melbourne Press Club Quill Award, as well as a commendation for the Tattersall’s Gold Quill Award for her cover story in The Age, titled "Solved: Mystery of detainee Anna".)

Ms Curr, who works at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre as the Community campaign Co-ordinator, will concentrate her time in Western Australia on asking the question whether since the story of the unlawful incarceration of Cornelia Rau there really was a consistent and thorough change in the way Australia treats refugees and asylum seekers.

Shortly after the Cornelia Rau story broke, two Private Members Bills launched by Liberal backbenchers Judi Moylan and Petro Georgiou MP in Federal Parliament demanded a softening of mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

A Senate Inquiry then saw an "overhaul" of the Immigration Department's administration. Many staff, also on senior levels, were 'relocated' of underwent training, and the Minister for Immigration promised a wholesale and thorough change in the culture of the Department.

Many reports by the Commonwealth Ombudsmanm, who last year, following the furore and debacles that followed the furore around Cornelia Rau, was appointed as The Immigration Ombudsman by the Federal Government, soon followed: the Ombudsman released several reports which revealed imprisonment and deportation of more than two-hundred Australian citizens and legal residents.

In her talk at Kulcha Multicultural Arts WA, Pamela Curr will ask "whether the light which the Cornelia Rau case shone into the detention regime will make a difference to the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia: so far some change hard won by the Liberal dissidents, Petro Georgiou and Judi Moylan MP, has seen families and children released and many - but not all - the long term detained, gain freedom."

Ms Curr further summarizes: "The Migration Act however remains in place with its iniquitous indefinite mandatory detention of people without trial or judicial oversight. How can the promised DIMA changes occur while new and even more repressive legislation currently before Parliament, the "Ban the Boatpeople Bill", which seeks to exclude and expel anyone who seeks refuge in Australia, is introduced?"

Website link for the event: http://www.safecom.org.au/wrd2006.htm

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