Visa win for HIV refugee
Why is Australia rewarding fraud and lawbreaking?
AN HIV-positive African woman who masqueraded as someone else to enter Australia on a refugee visa has been allowed to stay in the country. A Family Court judge has expressed concern that treatment for the woman, given the name of Ms Freye in court documents, would probably cost taxpayers $250,000.
Despite police being told she had falsely claimed to be the wife of a male refugee already in Australia, the department had not revoked her visa, the Family Court in Brisbane heard. Ms Freye had also won custody of the other refugee's children, while their mother remains in Africa.
Details of the woman's entry were made public by Family Court Justice Virginia Bell in a custody decision delivered in Brisbane on August 20.
The male refugee, called Mr Goombe in the court decision, came to Australia in 2005 with three of his five children, as well as Ms Freye's daughter. Mr Goombe claimed he sent money to his wife for care of his two other children in an African refugee camp and applied for humanitarian visas for them.
In 2008 Mr Goombe was told his wife and children had arrived in Australia, but said he was shocked to meet Ms Freye instead of his wife. He told police that she had fraudulently posed as his wife, but they took no action, the court heard.
Ms Freye claimed she was welcomed into Mr Goombe's home, but after he made untoward advances she left, although she returned each day while he was at work to look after the children.
In his decision over who would have custody of the children, Justice Bell expressed concern about the circumstances surrounding Ms Freye's entry. "May I say that the thing that concerns me is, notwithstanding that Ms Freye came into Australia by way of masquerade, she was HIV positive at the time of the application for a visa," Justice Bell said.
"It was indicated to the Immigration Department that in fact this woman would, in all probability, cost the taxpayers of Australia some $250,000 because of the necessity of treatments. "To me this is quite staggering . . . that the Immigration Department allowed this woman to proceed.
"I have been informed that there is little likelihood of her visa being withdrawn, notwithstanding the fact the Immigration Department is now aware that she was not the person she was purported to be and was aware that in fact she was suffering from AIDS."
An Immigration spokesman said Australian law did not prevent a visa being granted to a person with HIV. [That's not the point]