I do stress this article is about the emotional response to the situation, it is not a legal or administrative appraisal. Even as I type that I cringe, as I am well aware emotional responses are not considered appropriate.
In June 2013 I communicated yet again with the Ombudsman’s office in relation to my CDDA claim against the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, now renamed after the change of government to Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
By earlier this month I was wondering what on earth was happening and if I was ever going to receive a response. I emailed. They emailed back advising me they had posted their response to my home address, attaching a scan of the letter. No wonder I had not received it. We have not lived at that address since August 2012 and I had clearly given my current address on the letter I sent in June 2013. So many damn “mistakes”.
The letter was not favourable. Case closed as far as they are concerned. I am so frustrated and fed up I actually am not able to bring myself to read the whole letter. I can’t stomach reading yet another letter of bullying bureaucratic bullshit, not at the moment. The bits I did read were just more of the same old spin I’ve been listening to since this began. I accept the author of the letter probably believes it was a nice letter and that all my points were “adequately” addressed. The author didn’t live my experience and so anything I get telling me I am “wrong” is, from my perspective, bullying me into submission. Bullying me to go away and be quiet. My apologies to the author of the letter for feeling this way, as I do believe it was not the intention but it is the impact.
I now have the option to lodge a claim (or is it a request) for an Act of Grace payment. At least it is the only option I am aware of. Even the building looks formidable.
Act of Grace payment
The Act of Grace Scheme is administered by the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance). If the Finance Minister or delegate considers it appropriate to do so because of special circumstances, he or she may authorise making an Act of Grace payment. Act of Grace claims are considered on their individual merits. Act of Grace payments are discretionary and may be made where there is a moral, rather than legal liability and there is no other redress available; including where:
- the direct role of an agent/agency of the department has caused an unintended and inequitable result for the individual or entity concerned
- the application of the department’s legislation has produced a result that is unintended, anomalous, inequitable or otherwise unacceptable in a particular case (including in cases where the department has acted correctly in administrating the legislation involved)
- the matter is not covered by legislation or specific policy, but the department intends to introduce such legislation or policy, and it is considered desirable in a particular case to apply the benefits of the relevant provisions prospectively.
It goes on to say in some cases you might be invited to apply for compensation. I’ve never been invited.
The author of the latest letter does acknowledge it is recognised I feel strongly about my claim, so I guess that is something.
Mr O wants me to forget about it. His perception is people “look down on” asylum seekers and he is moving on with his life and wants to put the past behind us. But this isn’t about Mr O really, this is about me and the treatment I received at the hands of my own government, my own country. This is about what I was put through. I don’t have the resources or the strength to actually put in a claim for Mr O’s experience.
Accepting the CDDA claim would have required the Department to admit administrative failure and of course the department doesn’t want to do that. I don’t know what is happening in the world today, everyone seems to be terrified of admitting they might actually be wrong, have made a mistake or actually just not know something.
Maybe submitting an Act of Grace request through the Department of Finance, a separate entity, may mean it is viewed with independent eyes but who knows.
The wording on the Finance Department’s website is slightly different:
The act of grace power is intended to ensure consistency and equity in the impact of government activities where other legislative and administrative provisions do not take sufficient account of the unique circumstances of individual cases.
The downside is how much evidence do I have to try to provide given it is a different department. It seems the Department of Immigration has my whole life anyway but I assume I’ll have to provide it all again. This means more statements from all and sundry.
I am SO SO SO over it.
As I have said before:
Paper warfare. It becomes paper warfare and I understand why people just give up. Let Goliath win. The battle for fairness, respect and recompense is just too hard, takes too much time, too much effort. We poor taxpayers have jobs to go to, children to raise, homes to run. Battling Goliath just becomes another problem we don’t need, so we give up and they win. So it continues and nothing changes.
Injustice. I don’t think anyone who has read Love versus Goliath (the book) would say I was treated fairly or appropriately. If we can’t treat OUR OWN CITIZENS with justice and fairness, woe betide anyone else coming to our shores.
Does a change of government help or hinder my cause? I wouldn’t have expected what happened to me to happen under a Labor government, but it did. A Liberal government at the time may have seen an even worse outcome for our case, I will never know.
I am surprised at my own feeling of absolute defeat right now, surprised I can’t find the emotional strength to read that damn letter in full. I know it has been eating away at me. I struggle with where the hell am I going to find the time to put together yet another dossier all by myself with no legal training, just the truth.
I feel strongly about my case? Yes, too damn right I do. I’m also trying to get my health back, trying to raise four kids, trying to be a wife, hold down a job, edit a book. Just trying to live.
They say justice is only for the rich. Perhaps it is true after all.
Many remark justice is blind; pity those in her sway, shocked to discover she is also deaf. ~ DAVID MAMET, Faustus
It’s every man’s business to see justice done. ~ SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Meanwhile, politicians claim expenses to go to private weddings and wineries and that is OK, it seems.
I am so very tired.
- Expense claims kept secret: a team effort by Labor and the Coalition (theguardian.com)
- I have a letter from the Office of the Prime Minister (teamoyeniyi.com)