Information for New Zealanders living in Australia

NZ detainee denied visit with seriously ill partner

20 August 2018
Villawood Detention CentreVillawood detention centre in Sydney. (Photo: AFP)
Villawood Detention CentreVillawood detention centre in Sydney. (Photo: AFP)

20 August 2018

Edward Gay - Radio NZ Reporter

A New Zealand woman being held in an Australian detention centre says authorities won't let her visit her partner who has been in a coma and undergone emergency heart surgery.

Listen NZ detainer denied visit with seriously ill partner

The mother of three and grandmother of two is being held in the Villawood detention centre, a 20-minute drive from Liverpool Hospital in Sydney where her sick partner is being cared for.

The woman, who RNZ has agreed to call Miriam, was born in New Zealand but has been living in Australia for nearly 30 years. She has spent two and a-half years in prison and a further six months in the Villawood detention centre in Sydney.

Miriam has been with her Australian partner for more than 20 years. They have three children together and two grandchildren, all Australian. Her partner has been in hospital since May, has been in and out of a coma and has undergone emergency heart surgery.

Miriam said she applied to the authorities in May to get escorted leave to visit her partner in hospital. After three months she was turned down.

Miriam said she finally got a response earlier this month. The authorities said the only escorted leave that would be granted was if she had a medical appointment for her own health or she was attending the tribunal that hears deportation appeals.

She said she had now been asked to put in a fresh request but did not see much point.

At one point during his stay in hospital, her partner tried to visit her in the detention centre, but authorities would not allow the visit because he still had a drip in his arm. Before his health deteriorated, her partner would visit her every day. She describes him as her best friend.

Miriam said she even offered to pay the guards' salary while she visited but that was also turned down. She is getting updates from her children about her partner when they visit but they have got their own lives. Authorities have asked her if she needed counselling, but her reply was: 'No, she needed to get to hospital'.

She said she would not sign her papers to be deported to New Zealand because her family was in Australia and they could not all pack up and leave their lives.

In 2015, New Zealander Ra Fowell, being held at Villawood, said authorities had made it difficult for him to see his terminally ill wife. He was eventually let out to visit her and she died in his arms.

Villawood has repeatedly said it would not comment on individual cases.

Read the Radio NZ article.