In a mad rush to deport Vivian Alvarez Solon Young, Immigration officers shunned a group of Filipino professionals in Brisbane from assisting her. A Filipino social worker, Maria "Guing" Coop, who spoke with Vivian the day before her deportation in 2001, questioned the alleged illegality of Vivian’ s status in Australia.
During the interview, Vivian told Ms Coop that she was married to an Australian man and had been living in Australia for a long time. But when Ms Coop telephoned the compliance section of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA - as it was then titled), to ask of the basis on which it was decided that Vivian was in the country illegally, the officer replied that there was no record of Vivian’s entry into Australia.
Dismayed, Ms Coop replied, "How do you think she came here, on a broomstick?"
During the three days while Vivian was detained in the Airport 85 Motel in Ascot, a group of Filipinos attempted to offer their professional assistance to Vivian. Amongst them was a doctor, a Roman Catholic priest, nun, social worker, and two registered nurses.
One of the nurses, Mayette Mackintosh, who was asked by the Philippines Consular Assistant to accompany her while she interviewed Vivian at the motel, witnessed Vivian having a seizure. Ms Mackintosh spoke with Vivian in her native tongue Cebuano. She recalled Vivian’s limited arm movement and her overall physical weakness.
After the seizure, Ms Mackintosh strongly suggested to an Immigration officer present that Vivian needed urgent medical attention. She was told that they will inform the Department about the situation and they will handle it. After Vivian was composed and seemingly all right, Ms Mackintosh and the Consular Assistant left the room.
The next day, the officers who were guarding the entrance to Vivian’s room told Ms Coop that arrangements had been made for Vivian to be looked after in the Philippines by a charity of the Mother Theresa Sisters.
How then could the Department of Immigration claim in 2005 that they did not know where to begin their search for Vivian?
The first hand accounts described above are significant testimony in a daily series of developments about Vivian Solon’s case of wrongful deportation since it was revealed by the media to the Australian public on May 4, 2005.
In the light of the emerging information about Vivian’s case, the Filipino community, friends, family and supporters in Australia demand:
Centre for Philippine Concerns Australia (CPCA)
Melba Marginson, National Spokesperson
Dee Hunt and Emere Distor, CPCA-Brisbane
Maria Selga, Chairperson, CPCA-Victoria
Lulu Respall-Turner, CPCA-ACT
Maria Barredo, CPCA-Adelaide
Philippine Cultural Awareness & Cultural Services, Inc. (PCACS)
Filipino-Australian Community Services (FILACS)
Solidarity Philippines Australia Network (SPAN)
Filipino Women’s Working Party (FWWP)