Cornelia Wants a ‘Sorry’

Well guess what, Cornelia – so do I.

Locked-up Rau to seek compensation

CORNELIA Rau will seek compensation from the Federal Government for being locked up "like a caged animal" in an immigration detention centre.

Ms Rau, 39, also wants an apology from Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone for being wrongfully detained for almost a year. Denying she was mentally ill, the former Qantas flight attendant said she was poorly treated by police and immigration officials.

This is fairly typical. And unfortunately, far too many schizophrenics fall into precisely this trap.

The German-born Australian resident said her 10-month ordeal at Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre and South Australia's Baxter detention centre was a nightmare. "I have never been treated so unfairly in all my life," she said. "I was put into prison because I didn't have my passport on me. I couldn't get a lawyer there. I couldn't contact human rights groups like Amnesty.”
Personally, I think the fact that your family didn’t report you missing for four months was pretty unfair. The fact is, though, Cornelia wasn’t telling anyone who she really was, because she was in the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic delusion. And as for the passport - well, whatever did happen to the false German passport she was supposed to have been carrying – the one that supported the false name she gave the authorities?

"You are at the mercy of the Government. You can't voice your opinion because there's nobody to talk to. I don't think Amanda Vanstone would have liked to be in my situation -- she would have liked to have been able to contact a lawyer."
What? Try your family, Cornelia. Seriously - they were one phone call away, too.

She would not discuss why she used false names during her detention, including Anna Schmidt. "I had my reasons," she said.
Yep - it’s called a paranoid schizophrenic delusion, Cornelia.

In a rambling speech from prepared notes, she denied she was mentally ill but said the world could be a scary place. "I don't have an illness, I am very healthy," she said. They say that I have got schizophrenia, (but) I don't hear voices or have any symptoms of any illness."
Anyone getting any clues right now as to why it was she went off the deep end in the first place? Because the ‘I don’t have an illness’ syndrome is pretty typical. The next stage - ‘I don’t need to be taking these pills’ - is but a heart beat away.

Ms Rau disappeared from a Sydney psychiatric hospital in March last year. She was found by Aborigines on Cape York Peninsula and subsequently spent eight months in the Brisbane women's prison. She was moved to Baxter in October, despite her family listing her as missing in August.
Listing her missing under her real name (rather than the false one she kept giving), and some four months after she disappeared (assuming she left at the end of March, and her family reported her missing at the start of August, which otherwise means it was up to six months that they actually waited before reporting her missing). What a shame she wasn’t using her real name when she was picked up, or for the months she was put away. And what a shame her family didn’t seem to need to know where their mentally-ill sibling actually was for so very long.

None of us would have ended up with this mess if she or they had.

So where does Cornelia’s ‘sorry’ come into this? Pretty simple, really. Sorry I didn’t take my medication, which caused me to go into that delusional spin. Sorry for all the trouble I caused as a result, and the expense I put the community to. Sorry for how much it is now costing the community to have me treated and rehabilitated after I failed to take those meds in the first place. And sorry that it took my family four months to report me missing from that mental hospital (which kind of speaks volumes), and which was potentially the single most significant, exacerbating factor of this entire, sorry mess.

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