Larice Rainnie says her life has changed drastically over the past few years.
The 72-year-old used to be a dedicated public servant, a, and a social person in her hometown of Perth.
Now she lives alone in Auckland, telling SBS News she leaves the house “just three times a week”.
“I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Limbo,” she said.
Larice was deported from Australia to New Zealand in late 2019 after her visa was canceled over an 18-monthfor a drug-related crime in Finland.
She’d moved to Australia in 1964 and lived there for the.
She considered herself an Australian, and when she found out she wasn’t considered a citizen, she was shocked.
“I thought we were absorbed citizens; it never occurred to me when I was young,” she said.
“I even worked for the government, and nobody said anything about citizenship.”
It had never been an issue for Larice until the 2014 amendments to Australian visa laws meant that without citizenship, anyone who’d received aof 12 months would be deported, even if they’d lived in Australia most of their lives.
When Larice traveled back to Australia following her sentence, she was deported back to New Zealand – a country she hadn’t stepped foot in since 1964.
At 70, with no family, just a bag of clothes and $200 in her bank account, she wasagain.
Asked how she would describe it, she said: “Existence.”
“I have one friend; I don’t know my; I’ve got no transport.
“It’s just an existence. We’re all still in shock because exile is a diabolical situation.”
Deportees taking Australian government to court
There are hundreds of stories like Larice’s all over New Zealand.
Since the Australian laws changed in 2014, an estimated 2,300 Kiwis have been deported.
Now, they’re planning to take their plight to the courts and have begun making strategies to form a class action against theare human rights abuses.
Dozens of deportees, known colloquially as ‘501s’ in New Zealand, met last night in Auckland to discuss bringing a class action lawsuit against the Australian government.
Filipa Payne, a co-founder of ‘Route 501’, an organization that advocates for deportees, says that a class action lawsuit is the.
“I believe that Australia is the big brother of us all, and they’re abusing that role at the moment, and I thinkthe Pacific stood up and said ‘no more’,” she told SBS News.
Ms. Payne says many deportees have been unfairly deported and are being.
“I believe this is going to be a great stain on Australia’s name in history,” she said. “Wecosts … and the hurt and damage it harms Australian citizens.
“Many of thesebehind Australian families.”
Ms. Payne acknowledges vouching for convicted criminals is not easy but says people must look closely at what people are being deported over.
“Ihave been led to believe that this is all about sexual offenders, gang members, and the worst of the worst when they’re quite a minority. A lot of people deported have been for minor offenses,” she said.
She says it also shouldn’t be based on the severity of the crime but on how long the individual has lived in Australia.
“I know people who have been deported from Australia, were born in Australia, raised in Australia, lived in Australia, never set foot in New Zealand. They are Australian,” she said.
Law experts involved say they’re looking at options in the.
Tom Harris, a Waitemata Community Law Centre lawyer, says the case will focus on alleged inhumane treatment incenters and illegal family separation.
“I believe we have enough evidence tohuman rights abuses,” he told SBS News.
“I do believe we have enough to prove that it was through the policies and legislation thisgovernment put in place.”
A trans-Tasman rift
It’s a longstanding political sticking point between Australia and New Zealand too.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had called out the Morrison government over the policy on multiple occasions – including during her prime ministerial visit earlywhen she accused him of deporting “your people, your problems”.
The issue was raised again yesterday duringMarise Payne’s visit to Wellington.
Her New Zealand counterpartNanaia Mahuta, vowed to continue pressuring Australia.
“I can say that we continue toabout the issues of deportations and their impact on New Zealand,” Ms. Mahuta said.
“We believe thatin another country and relate to that country are self-identifying as to where they belong.”
In a statement to SBS News, the Department ofsaid it would “respond to any legal action if and when it is commenced”.
“Any non-citizen who comes to Australia and overstays their visa or chooses to engage in criminal activity will be liable for detention and removal from Australia,” it said in a statement.
“TheAffairs will respond to any legal action if and when it is commenced.”
Theis still in its early days.
But for deportees like Larice, it’s the first step to accountability and a possible chance at returning home.