15 November 2021
To, The Hon Alex Hawke MP
My name is Mark Basa.
I have been in prison or migration detention for 17 years this year. I was first incarcerated as a teenager at the age of 16 years. I am now 32 years old, have a partner and a child and elderly parents and Sibilings in Australian community.
In 2017 I was re-classified as low-risk C3 by SORC (Serious Offenders Review Committee) & was out on work release in the community unsupervised. I was also able to go out on day release on the weekends with my family to spend the day with them.
I also have an immaculate record with Corrective Services & SORC has commended me on my exemplary behaviour as being a role model inmate.
On the 7th January 2018, I was granted parole by the NSW State Parole Authority & SORC that deal with prisoners and assess their risks and rehabilitation prospects on day to day basis. I was seen as a fit person to be returned to the community and did not pose a risk of harm to the community or any member of the Australian community. During that period I complied with the terms of my day release and did not come to the attention of the authorities for any wrong doing. I spent significant period of that time and mingled with my family and community members on day to day basis. Therefore, my ability to remain crime free and without posing any sort of danger or harm to the community was not only accepted by State Parole Authority and SORC but has been tested in community settings. These facts should be given significant weight in my favour particularly when considering any future risk of harm to the Australian community.
Further, if I am released from Detention, rehabilitative and other support programs would be available to me through Parole and I also have employment offers that will allow me to get duly employed in no time and make positive contribution through my employment to the community as well as reduce the significant hardships that my partner, my son and my parents are facing at present due to no source of income and reliance on social welfare which is not expensive given how expensive NSW is where social welfare payment barely covers rent.
Since coming into detention on the 7th January 2018, my mental & physical health has declined rapidly and that impact is felt by my partner, my minor son and my elderly parents all of whom are distressed because of my continued detention. Not knowing when I will return to my parents, family & loved ones is extremely hard for me and for them. Especially my fiancé & son who is now 3 years old and doesn’t understand why he can’t play with his Dad, share food with me or go to bed next to me hearing my story’s to put him to sleep.
Unfortunately, due to severe financial, emotional, psychological and practical hardships of life and separation from me, my partner has already tried to commit suicide over this situation & the uncertainty of when we will be reunited and when will I be able to contribute to reduce the significant hardships that she and my 3 year old minor son Hector is facing every day. In the past they would visit me regularly while I was being held at Villawood detention centre but that now is impossible as I have been moved to Christmas Island Detention centre for no apparent reason and this means that I will not be able to see my child and wife or my parents as neither I or they have the financial means to fly to Christmas Island or afford accommodation to come visit me.
So there is practical separation of me from my loved ones including my parents, my partner and my child because of the Department’s decision to transfer me from Villawood to Christmas Island. I am very concerned that my partner will not be able to cope if the situation remains the same and am hold grave fears that my partner may self-harm again and this time she may not be as lucky as last time.
I am also very concerned for the mental and emotional health of my child and the fact that he is growing up in significant poverty due to no fault of his own. He cannot afford to have many simple necessities in life because his mother cannot work due to her health issues and her responsibility to provide around the clock care to him. The money that they receive from centrelink is not enough as everything in Sydney is very expensive. If my detention is further prolonged, it could result in developmental problems for Hector and could impact his life negatively for the rest of his life. I request that the Minister give the best interest of my child and my mentally ill partner significant weight in favour of granting my protection visa.
In 2007, while I was incarcerated at Baxter Juvenile Centre, a tumour was removed along with ⅓ of my pancreas. I have since been taking Creon which helps me to digest food normally because my pancreas does not make enough enzymes. I take Creon 3 times per day and the specialist who treated me advised me that I will need to take it for the rest of my life to keep me alive. If I choose not to be indefinitely detained in migration detention centres in Australia and the only viable alternative is to volunteer to go back to PNG, I will not be able to afford Creon as I have no savings or any assets because I have been in prison and now migration detention for all of my adult life. Therefore, I will not be in a financial position to afford regular Creon in PNG and would eventually die as a result.
That is if I and my family do not become a meal for wild animal, criminal gangs or just die because of harsh weather as homeless people. There is no doubt that we will be homeless upon return to PNG as we do not own a property, land or any assets and neither do I or my partner or my family have any support network in PNG. The government is corrupt and there is no social welfare as almost half the population of the country live under the poverty line. If Social welfare of any sort was available, 37% of the population would not be living under the poverty line in PNG and this fact is confirmed by reports which I submit in support of my case. So, it is a given that I, my partner and my 3 year old son will also become part of that statistic and would face insurmountable hardships in PNG.
I am particularly concerned for my child and my partner because they are not PNG citizens and they will have no access to any medical care or any social support from the government, if there is any available. Hector is growing every day and would need nutritious food during the developmental years of his life. Though, it saddens me that I would not be in a position to even provide basic food to him and there is a significant risk that we may lose him to malnutrition or famine.
My partner will also not be able to access medical and mental health assistance. Given the fact that she has already made an attempt at her life, I believe without the medical and mental health assistance, the prospects of the history repeating itself are high. The Minister can prevent this by stroke of a pen.
Hector would also probably grow up as uneducated person as we would not be in a financial position to educate him privately and as a non-citizen, he would not be able to enrol in government schools. Even if he is allowed to government school, there are not many schools and often the child will need to travel for many hours to get to school. This would be very problematic for Hector as he is white skinned and will always stand out in the local PNG population. Therefore, there is every possibility that he will face discrimination and bullying from local children at school and throughout his life from locals for that reason. I really do not want to bring my child in such a place but we would have no choice if the only alternative is indefinite detention for me.
I am also concerned for all of us because of Corona Virus that is causing havoc through PNG. The virus has killed thousands of people and the government is unable to cater to the needs of its citizens. Therefore, this is another significant concern that I and my family hold genuine fear that we may fall victim to the virus. If my partner or son was to contact the virus, they will not be able to get the treatment because we cannot privately afford it and the government services would not be available to non-citizens. Therefore, there is a possibility that we may fall victim to the virus.
My Mum & Dad are Australian citizens and they are elderly now & need me there to support them for many years to come. My Dad has visited me every Sunday for 16 years & since I have been in detention he has had a stroke and has also had mental health issues associated with my incarceration. Therefore, my elderly parents will face insurmountable financial, emotional and practical hardships for the rest of their lives if I am indefinitely detained or voluntarily returned to PNG to my death.
My parents are very close with my son Hector & I am asking you to please get me back to NSW, Grant me my Visa and release me to my parents on parole. So my family can be reunited. If we decide to move to PNG, my parents will also be heartbroken as they would probably never see me, my partner and Hector who they love and adore and have a very close relationship with. Hector would also be devastated if he was to be separated from his grandparents who he regularly sees and loves spending time with them.
Finally, I will note that I do not pose any risk of harm to any member of Australian community. My rehabilitation has already been tested in Australian community and that demonstrates that any risk of harm through my conduct to the Australian community is Nil.
I am aware that there are some incident reports from Serco, a private contractor that has a vested interest in detainees remaining for as long as possible in migration detention. It is overwhelmingly clear that Serco’s financial interests are served if I, or any other detainee for that reasons is detained for as long as possible or even better if they are looking at indefinite detention. Serco will continue to receive payments from Australian taxpayer for accommodating me in Serco run detention centres. Therefore, any report or incidents from Serco should be given zero weight as they have a vested self-interest and the reports are one sided and have not been tested in courts or tribunals.
Instead, I invite the Minister to rely on clear evidence from Parole Board and Serious Offenders Review Committee that released me unsupervised and allowed me to work in the Australian community without an incident. This information which is before the Minister clearly demonstrates that I can remain in Australian community and make positive contributions to it through my employment without causing any sort of harm to the Australian community or any member of Australian community.
Therefore, the best interest of my family, my minor child and my elderly parents and the Australian community is served if my protection visa is granted to me.
Christmas Island Detention Centre