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As stated in Part 5 of this serialization (#part5), my two children and I had been granted occupancy of a house by CANFaCS (CANberra Fathers and Children Services) on 05/05/2009 following the circumstances previously explained. For the records, I haven’t at any given time signed any occupancy agreement with ConnectionsACT for the same premises provided by CANFaCS.
On 3 December 2012, one Linda Vincent acting for ConnectionsACT wrote to notify once more of intention by ConnectionsACT to apply to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal for a termination and possession order if I hadn’t vacated the premises on or before the 19 December 2012. While I was still contemplating on my next course of action following this notification, a series of events happened in quick succession. On 4 December 2012, one Nigel Gregory – a Process Server – served me with the Termination Notice from ConnectionsACT dated 3 December 2012. The Australian Federal Police was next to notify me of proposed eviction from the subject premises, as reflected on attached copy below:
Around 6.30 a.m. of 20 February 2013 while my daughter was preparing for school, a fleet of speeding vehicles pulled up at my residential address. A group of officers, some in plain clothes, alighted from their vehicles, both police as well as unmarked. Mr Daniel Leskovec was the only person I could positively identify because he supervised the special team that attended to me at DIAC-ACTRO. There was also a dozen other Australian Federal Police officers in full police uniform. Before I could clearly tell what was happening, I realized the house had been surrounded on all sides by Police officers.
There was also a lady officer in the group dressed in plain clothes as well. The knocking on the doors was so scary, my daughter and I became so terrified as we didn’t know what the drama outside was all about. I, therefore, hesitated from opening any door as the people outside kept knocking while claiming they were officers from the department of immigration. I asked daughter to sit next to me in the lounge. From inside the house I could see one of the plain clothed officers who stood outside the sliding glass door. He kept directing a high-powered beam of light through the curtained glass door. He also kept making hand signals to the other members. My son wasn’t home at the time. He and school mates had gone on a three-day school excursion. I was meant to pick him up from school on the same day at 3.00 p.m., upon returning from excursion.
When I hesitated to open the door, the officers used equipment to open and gain entry into the house. Mr Daniel Leskovec flipped out a piece of paper claiming it was an ‘enter and search warrants’ obtained from the Courts. I wasn’t handed a copy of those ‘warrants’. Mr Daniel Leskovec appeared to supervise this operation. He went on to ask me a raft of questions, which I declined to answer. Surprisingly, he demanded to know my current immigration status. I couldn’t answer that question either because I considered a genuine immigration official would have known my immigration status in Australia. Recall at this point in time that my medication to manage depression had been stopped several months back without a doctor’s advice as reflected in Part 5 of this serialization. This invasion proved so challenging and daunting to me as my head felt like bursting from what appeared to be strong waves sweeping across my brain. The very unstructured nature and content of the questions asked was so provocative, more so considering immigration visa stickers affixed in our three diplomatic passports by the department of immigration.
Mr Daniel Leskovec then attempted to snatch my backpack off me to which I refused to let go. It was at this point one of the plain clothed officers I later learnt his first name was Joel, pushed me so hard back into the seat. I felt I had been assaulted. My backpack was removed from me by force. Officer Joel then stood right in front, making sure I had no room to move around. This was the same officer who had earlier been directing from outside the house through the curtains the high-powered beam of light. I found the encounter unwarranted, unprovoked, and quite intimidating given my daughter was right there. I complied and stayed calm.
The officers took my backpack to the dining area behind the separating wall. Officer Joel and other uniformed police officers surrounded me in the lounge area. The backpack was, therefore, searched away from my sight.
The officers then asked me to stand and lift up my hands. I did. They conducted a body search and removed the chain around my neck. They also removed a memory stick from my pockets. It was at that point Mr Daniel Leskovec informed me it appeared to him I didn’t have a valid visa to stay in Australia. How he had arrived at that conclusion was also daunting.
Mr Daniel Leskovec concluded my children and I had to be removed from the house and taken to DIAC-ACTRO enroute to Villawood Immigration Detention Camp. We were to be forcefully removed from Australia and deported to country of origin. My daughter and I were then escorted out of the house to a waiting van outside, with my hands lifted up in the air. The van we went in had a thick glass dividing the driver’s compartment from the back passenger compartment. It suddenly occurred to me, my daughter and I were actually being taken away in a prisoner van. This scenario was so humiliating and embarrassing.
What happened later at the immigration department following incessant questioning prior to my son being collected from school under police escort was a harrowing experience I would certainly not be able to get off my mind. My daughter and I were put in a small room fitted only with an overhead CCTV camera and one small bed. We were later removed and taken to what appeared to be a medium sized meeting room. Here, I was grilled over and over on the same set of questions to those asked at the residence, each time by a different officer. I did not respond. The grilling got to a point where the officers obtained an interpreter to translate the questions from English to Swahili on speaker phone. What a boisterous, humiliating, and contemptuous posturing.
I don’t remember what happened next while at the immigration department, if there was anything that happened which I may not remember, but I recall being attended to by ambulance staff at the same premises. I also recall hearing someone call for ‘de-brief’, where he said ‘what happened here, stays here’. The same voice congratulated the officers for an ‘assignment well executed’. I also recall my daughter crying. She certainly was so distressed by the event that had caused the attendance of ambulance staff on me. I could hear her pleading with the officers to save her dad.
After my son joined us at the department, the same official who appeared to be the manager and Mr Daniel Leskovec’s senior, convened a round-table conference. In attendance were ‘compliance officers’ and my family, other officers who had attended the early morning operation at the house, a representative from the Catholic Education Office (CEO), and the Principal from my son’s school. Later while being escorted to the washroom by one of the officers, I noticed the names “Linda Vincent” on a diary in front of the lady who had sat at the corner of the table. It occurred to me this was the same lady who kept telling us from outside the house to open the door; who kept saying they were officers from the immigration department. It also dawned on me at that point that “Linda Vicent” was actually a ‘compliance officer’ stationed at DIAC-ACTRO. This is also the same official who had signed documents on the eviction notification from ConnectionsACT.
Close to the end of the conference, Mr Daniel Leskovec issued two property receipts listing some of the items removed from my backpack at the house. I realized a black bin bag that had contained a piece of white rag had not been listed as one of the items removed at the house from my backpack. This piece of rag relates to an incident that occurred mid December 2012/early January 2013. What’s unique about this matter is fact that in Australia, these months coincide with the infamous bush fires season. On this material day, I recall the temperature had soared above 40 degrees centigrade.
Just so that facts regarding the incident of the rag are clear. On the material day, a speeding black car with NSW yellow number plates bearing a combination of six alphanumeric characters paired up thrice, pulled up outside our residential address. This car had the inscription “RAPID RESPONSE” on its sides. I got out of the house to watch what was happening. A man in a shiny yellow jacket – the type worn by Australian workers – had rushed to the fence prompting me to quickly get out of the house and rush outside the gate to witness what his intentions were. It was at that point that this person rushed back to the car and sped off. I ran to where he had stooped and found the piece of rag. On close examination, I noticed it emitted fumes similar to those of petrol. I rushed back to the house to collect a bin bag. I then went back to the scene, put the rag in the bin bag, tied a knot, and went back to the house. I preserved that rag in my backpack as evidence of this scary incident. All the while, my daughter and son watched from inside the house.
Given the overgrown vegetation around the house at the time, I had concluded the intention of the person who sped off was certainly to start a grass fire and possibly set the house ablaze. Thus, when I couldn’t find that black bin bag listed among the items that Mr Daniel Leskovec had listed on the property receipts, I declined to sign the two documents he had wanted me to sign. This incident has continued to haunt me each day that passes, most intensely whenever I hear about cases of arson.
My children and I were shortly thereafter transported from Canberra to Villawood Immigration Detention Camp, in Sydney. We were held at that detention camp from 20 February 2013 and released on 02 August 2013. Upon release, we moved back to Canberra. However, we did not return to our initial residential address. Unlike the period 2009 – 2013, this time round arrangements had been put in place to access minimal financial assistance to secure private accommodation and pay monthly rent as well as subsist with my two children. I still have no work rights.
Around September 2015, I was for the first time made aware by Sherrifs from the ACT Magistrates Court of an application for a Seizure and Sale Order first filed at the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) on 25 July 2013. It would be observed that by 25 July 2013, my children and I were still at the Villawood Detention Camp in Sydney. According to documents I obtained later, someone from the residential address from where we had been evicted in 2013, sent out mail in my name. Other mail addressed to me by name was also received at the same residential address and acted upon in my name. This disposition is truly mind-boggling! This is because it is indicative the applicants used documentation obtained through this fraudulent process to lodge the application at the ACAT. This process went on in my absence and finally culminated to the issuance of a default judgment by the ACAT. The applicants also proceeded to seek enforcement orders from the ACT Magistrates Court, which the Court granted on 14/08/2015 for a utility ‘debt’ ostensibly incurred from 2009 – 2013 from one of the electricity companies. I leave you my reader to keep guessing critically on a number of parameters here as I reserve any further comments on the issue of the utility ‘debt’ for now.
After I became aware of the matter late 2015, I had to obtain information from subject file at the ACT Magistrates Court. Subsequently, I had to visit the Court on 06/01/2016 and 07/01/2016. On both occasions, officer Joel was on duty at the service counters to attend to me. He frustrated my initial efforts on 06/01/2016 to obtain the information I needed from subject file. On 06/01/2016, officer Joel asked me to go to the Supreme Court and obtain copies of the enforcement orders from the Sheriffs there. However, I was sent back to the ACT Magistrates Court by the Sheriff’s office. Officer Joel, again asked me to go to ACAT and get what I needed, which I did but was again referred back to the ACT Magistrates Court. This to-and-fro rendezvous forced me to return to the Magistrates Court on 07/01/2016 with a request letter I had written and signed, just to formalize my access to documents from subject file. On this day, 07/01/2016, officer Joel was again on duty to attend to me at the Magistrates Court service counters. Officer Joel had attempted to frustrate my efforts once again by asking irrelevant questions about ‘who’ had written the request letter I had passed to him. At that point, I asked to talk to a senior official.
Only after I had talked to the senior official in camera was I able to obtain all documents from the subject file as asked in my letter dated 07/01/2016. It is instrumental to observe that my household items and other personal effects haven’t been recovered and returned to me to date. I, therefore, had to lodge an application to seek orders to set aside the default judgment, and by extension the seizure and sale enforcement orders so I could defend the matter on these grounds. This is because it became clearer in my mind this process was initiated with intention to obtain relevant orders from the courts as a way of sanitizing the unlawful withholding of my household as well as other personal items left in the house following our eviction in 2013.
Nevertheless, on 13 January 2016, I was forced to file two applications at the ACT Magistrates Courts to seek Restraining Orders against Mr Daniel Leskovec and officer Joel, in addition to other related orders as stipulated under Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008, s18. These two officers had continued to harass, threaten, and taunt me during fortnightly reporting to DIAC-ACTRO; and at the ACT Magistrates Court on 06/01/2016 and 07/01/2016, respectively.
In relation to officer Joel, the Registrar dismissed the application on grounds I could not give the defendant’s second name, as conveyed during the hearing. Relating to Mr Daniel Leskovec, the Registrar informed that the Court had no jurisdiction to prosecute federal officials. Essentially, both applications to obtain Restraining Orders against the two federal officials were dismissed. Officer Joel continues to taunt me to date in public spaces.
That my children and I would be treated in the manner we have been is truly a piece of memory I would always relate to white privilege. This has been such a unique experience that no amount of counselling or therapy would be able to erase from my mind much as I would love to reclaim my dignity. It certainly is much worse for the children. Nonetheless, I need answers.
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.