Racism In Australia: Tribulations Of A Former African Diplomat – PART 5

Under Australian migration Act, federal government support to an asylum seeker stops once an applicant proceeds to seek judicial review of a federal government decision to deny an applicant a substantive visa. Such initial review is sought from the federal judicial system. This support is apparently reinstated when a matter has been referred by a federal court back to the department of immigration for reconsideration or when an applicant decides to seek ministerial intervention from the Minister for Immigration where a review institution upholds a primary decision. I am not privy to the practice elsewhere in the world relating to the level of statutory support extended to asylum seekers by the government of the day.

Subsequently, following the decision of the second review tribunal, I received notification from the department of immigration informing of stoppage of statutory federal government support to my children and I. This development meant I had to concurrently ‘hunt around’ for community organizations/charity institutions that provide accommodation as well as support services to children, including counselling services. Counselling was a key necessity at this point considering the trauma suffered following the loss of my job for reasons beyond my control.

My two children and I received incredible support from some remarkable institutions around Canberra. I appreciate and extend my gratitude to each of the awesome staff that work in these not-for-profit organizations. It is indeed as a result of the referrals and intervention from these institutions, that CANberra Fathers and Children Services (CANFaCS) agreed to provide my children and I accommodation in the form of a house. Considering fact that Kevin Rudd’s Labour government had made the initial decision to deny me work and study rights while in Australia. In addition, Kevin Rudd’s Labor government also did not reinstate crucial statutory federal support after referral of the matter to the department of immigration. My financial circumstances throughout Kevin Rudd’s reign as Prime Minister and later as the Minister for Foreign Affairs were certainly direc.

The management at CANFaCS, however, considered my financial and other general circumstances and made the right judgment to sign with me an occupancy contract. CANfaCS also made the decision to exempt me from payment of rent for the subject premises until such a time my financial circumstances would have improved. Needless to point out CANFaCS management and service staff provided my two children with requisite support services needed by single fathers and their children when found to be on the verge of homelessness. Indeed, Communities@Work, as one of the referring institutions, was so instrumental in initiating such outstanding humanitarian assistance that culminated to positive outcomes for my family.

It is, of course, too unfortunate that on learning I had managed to secure accommodation at CANFaCS, the one and same ‘case manager’ from DIAC-ACTRO Ms Lisa Minami, claimed CANFaCS had errored in providing accommodation to me and my children. From that point onwards, I started noticing the systematic replacement of support staff from CANFaCS with strangers who introduced themselves as ‘volunteers’ from government. This systematic change of staff and the unruly manner in which they engaged with me, was later to become a source of so much strain in my struggle to cope with matters surrounding my application for asylum, more so the circumstances of my two children. These same ‘volunteers’ managed to reverse all the gains my family had achieved prior to their taking over of all operations extended to me by and at CANFaCS. I recall the contract of one of the senior managers at CANFaCS had to be cancelled as well as being removed with her family from Australia in what appeared to be a sad encounter. I later received communication purporting to be from the management of CANFaCS to the effect CANFaCS had initiated a ‘corporate identity’ transformation from CANFaCS to ConnectionsACT.

As a result of that communication, ConnectionsACT management first sought to have me sign a fresh occupancy agreement. Unlike the occupancy agreement I had signed with CANFaCS, however, the occupancy agreement drafted by ConnectionsACT was so variant in the terms and conditions as well as obligations and responsibilities. ConnectionsACT had also sneaked in other unpleasant clauses that negated on the basic principles of ensuring the best interest of children are catered for unreservedly, especially under straining circumstances. It was indeed draconian for ConnectionsACT to seek to have me renew the proposed occupancy agreement fortnightly, each time upon giving reasons to justify the need for such renewal. I, therefore, had to disagree with that insidious proposition from the management of ConnectionsACT.

The preceding deadlock led to ConnectionsACT to file an application at the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). ConnectionsACT alleged a number of unfounded claims made by Brian J. Heath, the Tenancy Manager. These claims include the following: that, I had resided at one of their properties since 5 May 2009 during which time I had neither paid any rent; that, for the majority of that time, I had ‘refused’ to meet with support staff from ConnectionsACT; that, I had failed to comply with requirement of meeting with support staff from ConnectionsACT regularly quote “…this obligation is mandatory as Mark Malibe has two children listed in his care, and support staff need to ensure the safety of the children” – end of quote; that, I had quote “…consistently refused to allow access to any of our staff (support or tenancy) since December 2010” – end of quote; that, ConnectionsACT had – quote “…been advised of the possibility that Mark Malibe is in possession of an income stream from … such income if true becomes part of his financial obligation to our organization” – end of quote; that, quote “…[A]s you would be aware emergency housing providers are obliged under our “Head-lease” arrangement to pay a considerable rental payment monthly to the ACT Government for all “Sub-leased properties” and a failure to collect rent is serious drain on our limited resources” – end of quote. The subject application was dismissed.

It was around the same time I noticed a new set of individuals visiting me at my house variously posing as officials from the ACT child care and protection services. These officials asked me a range of questions from enquiring about my immigration status in Australia to wanting to know which other organization and individuals were offering me support services apart from CANFaCS; whether I have work and study rights, to how the children and I are surviving considering I had no gainful employment; asked about what my field of study is to what I intend to do in Australia now that I have lost my employment. These people visited my house on their terms and without prior notice to me. They did visit during non-office hours as well as during weekends. Where I had dashed to the grocery, they would enter the house and wait for me from inside. This harassing conduct took a huge toll on my medical and psychological well-being.

Surprisingly, I was later instructed by an official at the Canberra Hospital pharmacy department that I should start paying for the medication which I had been taking for some time since 2008. This was medication that had been prescribed to me by one of the GPs who extended medical support services at the Companion House, another of the incredible institutions serving the refugee community within Canberra and its environs, in particular victims of trauma.

Nonetheless, ConnectionsACT went ahead to initiate a second adverse action. The management notified me vide a letter dated 3 December 2012 of its intention to terminate the occupancy agreement I had signed with CANFaCS on 5 May 2009. This move was strange because I had not signed any explicit occupancy agreement with ConnectionsACT. Essentially my two children and I were to be evicted from the residential premises by the Australian Federal Police if I had not voluntarily sought alternative accommodation by 7 August 2012. Just incase someone is contemplating to claim I have access to hard copy documents from my dark blue suitcase; well, I don’t. This is because such documents are still being held together with my other undelivered personal items since 2013. A soft copy of the letter from ConnectionsACT recently made available is appended below:

Which brings me to wonder what kind of persons would act in the manner I have described given the circumstances that prevailed at the time. Senator Katy Gallagher, I have the following matters for you:

(i) why was dispensing of my medication from The Canberra Hospital pharmacy stopped without a doctor’s advice, considering my circumstances at the time were well documented at that institution. Notwithstanding fact that you were at the time the Chief Minister and Minister for Health as well?

(ii) under what circumstances was ConnectionsACT institutionalized under your reign as the Chief Minister for the ACT, considering CANFaCS is still operating under the same brand name? This question is relevant for the former Chief Minister for the ACT to explain because unlike CANFaCS, which is a not-for-profit institution, ConnectionsACT on the other hand is an entity of the ACT government as reliably established.

(iii) do you realize the damage and suffering these acts and acts on other matters to follow have inflicted on my two children and I, starting from the time you were the Chief Minister for the ACT as well as the Minister for Health?

I need answers.

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