Monday, March 14, 2011

OVERSTAYERS NABBED: Solos in detention in Australia

AN unconfirmed number of Solomon Islanders living in Brisbane, Australia are likely to be deported back to the country after they were allegedly caught residing illegally in Brisbane.
Reports reaching the Solomon Star from Brisbane stated that authorities found out the locals were living illegally in Australia during the recent flooding in Brisbane which resulted them being locked up in detention centres.
Most of them were reportedly working on farms in Gatton Shire just an hour drive from downtown Brisbane, in South East Queensland.
It was reported that as a requirement during the devastating floods in Brisbane non- Australian citizens were expected to confirm their ID or passport to get food or water.
That was when authorities found out from some of the local Solomon Islanders that they had overstayed after they tried to get water and food using their passports.
“From what I heard they were given three month visas but they had been living in Australia for more than 10 months,” a student who wanted to remain anonymous told the Solomon Star via email from Brisbane.
The student said he wanted his name withheld because the Solomon Islands community living in the area promised not to release any information to the media regarding the matter.
However, he said it had to be made known so that it would not be repeated again in future and so that the Government could help those involved.
The student said most of the Solomon Islanders who travelled to Australia were brain washed with the earnings one could make working on farms for $18AUD (about $144) an hour for more than 18 hours a day.
“This is big money when converted to Solomon dollar so I think that is why some have decided to reside illegally. Who knows,” the student said.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s assistant secretary to the Pacific John Wasi told the Solomon Star they had received unconfirmed reports of the situation.
“We have received unconfirmed reports regarding the situation but there is still no word from the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Australia regarding the matter,” he said.
However, a statement from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship through the High Commission office in Honiara could not clearly confirm if there were Solomon Islanders in detention centres.
The statement stated that if people from Solomon Islands were in immigration detention, they would be compliance cases who had overstayed their visas, been found working in breach or had their visas cancelled for character reasons.  
“We do not confirm nationalities in detention that have small numbers as this could potentially identify them, breaching their privacy.
Therefore, these people are removed to a country where they have right of entry or long-term stay, as soon as possible after all outstanding matters with the department are finalised and other removal clearances such as a fit-to-fly health assessments are conducted.
However, for operations reasons the department does not discuss the timing of removals,” the statement said.
[By Ednal Palmer, Solomon Star]

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