Last updated on July 2nd, 2017 at 07:52 am
The Age’s Traceeee Hutchison ponders a wayward woman’s plight:
I’m sure I’m not the only Australian who struggled to recognise my country many times during the Howard government’s reign. And one of the many soul-searching moments came after the revelation of the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau.
Who had a few problems of her own when it came to recognising countries. More of which in a moment.
Rau, the German-born Australian resident who was struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness, was held at Brisbane’s women’s prison and later in Adelaide’s Baxter immigration detention centre for 10 months during 2004-05 after authorities assumed she was an illegal immigrant.
Not exactly; Traceeee omits a few details. Leon Ward helps her out:
Do I have this right? A person signs herself out of a psychiatric hospital, gets rid of anything that could identify her, changes her name, moves to a place where no one knows her and refuses to speak English, in which she is fluent.
The authorities investigate and find this woman does not exist, so she is locked up pending further information. While incarcerated, she still refuses to speak English or to give any honest details about herself.
By chance, her identity is discovered and she is released. She is provided with accommodation, support and transport to various venues including French lessons. And now we owe her $2.4 million. I’ve heard much sadder stories.
Among them: Queensland’s Labor government is now considering throwing some cash Cornelia’s way. Brilliantly, Traceeee uses this story of a delusional German woman who made things up and would have perished had she not been taken into care to argue for stolen generation compensation.
UPDATE. Will Rau sue Bob Ellis?
UPDATE II. Rau’s sister Christine claims that, due to “medical and political mistakes”, Cornelia’s “neural pathways are irretrievably altered”. Political mistakes can do that?