Monday, 18 September 2006

The Great Passport Fiasco Summarised

January - I book the surgery for November 15th, necessitating travel on or about the 11th November 2006.

Februaty 26th : I get final psychological clearance for surgery. It can now be confirmed, and the balance of the fee paid (just under $20,000).

April 10 : Application for UK passport. I'd first contacted the UK passport people back in October, it just took me a long time to get the required documentation together to apply.

April 24 : It's granted. Total time to process: 10 working days

June 4 or possibly a few days earlier : Application for Australian Passport, and a problem almost immediately, on June 7

June 14 : The day I could reasonably expect a passport to be issued.

July 3 : First written communication from the APO, demanding gynacological tests

July 25 : Nothing in writing, but the passport is being refused. Or is it?

July 26 : So a letter to the Minister - still no official decision in writing.

July 31 : Medicare provides proof of gender and diagnosis

August 1st : Attempt to deliver this to the APO fails, no-one present is cleared to receive it.

August 2nd : I finally see the case officer, and hand over the Medicare evidence, plus a letter from my PhD supervisor showing the necessity for overseas travel to complete my PhD

August 3rd : They appear unimpressed But still nothing in writing that I could appeal.

August 4th : Section 13 letter sent to try to get something, ANYTHING in writing, rather than this constant delay. Under the law, they have 28 days to reply.

August 7th : A decision hasn't been made according to the Passport Infoline. Or has it?

August 8th-10th : Complete co-operation from DIMIA. They couldn't give me what I asked for, but they pointed out alterantives, and what evidence I'd have to give them. Help, not obfuscation and delay.

August 18th : My application has been refused, and withdrawn. Wait, no it hasn't!

August 21st : There's now a "ministerial" about it. Maybe my letter to the Minister of 4 weeks ago is finally bearing fruit?

August 24th : New Citizenship certificate from Immigration, and if I'd had that in the first place, perhaps this whole mess could have been avoided.

September 1st : Deadline for a written reply to my Section 13 letter passes.

September 5th : OK, this is ridiculous. Give them another 7 days to reply to the section 13 letter, showing the decision, all evidence considered, and why they came to that decision.

September 8th : Finally, something in writing! Except it doesn't mention the Section 13 letter, it's obscure, and is a reply to my query to the Minister [b]from back in July[/b]!

September 9th : The stress starts to show. Guess I'm not Supergirl after all.

September 11th : An amazing and upsetting phonecall from the APO. This clears up many obscurities in the letter (without putting it in writing, naturally) but I get a summary recorded while I can remember it accurately. To get any passport in a female Gender, I must divorce, by decree of the APO. No mention is made of a 1-year passport. And I won't be treated like deportees, suspected terrorists, passport traffickers or criminals with outstanding arrest warrants: I'm not offered a Document of Identity, I'll have to [b]apply[/b] for one, and perjure myself too if I'm to get it. No hope of completing my PhD of course.

Also September 11th : I contact my lawyer, this is outrageous.

September 13th : Application for a Ministerial review of the decision, now I have something in writing at last. Of course, it will be too late now, from past performance it will take months. I have to leave soon.

September 14th : Immigration offers a ray of hope.

September 15th : Not Exiled After All, thanks to the Public Service provided by DIMIA. I can see and hug my little son on Christmas Day after all.

A Conjecture of why this happened. But it doesn't explain away the evasion, the lies, and the contempt my legally enforcable request for information was held in. Malice or Gross Incompetence? Pick any two.

And you know what? What other woman in this position would have the resources I do? How many could do all the hundreds of hours of legal research, trying to find some way, any way of getting around this mob? How many would have the emotional strength to endure the unendurable (and I came close to losing it). Emotional Pain and Suffering? Oh yes. Hopefully I can get my PhD progress back on track.

I'm alright now. But I can't let this continue, it's... inhuman. Un-Australian. Maybe it's ego, but I don't think so. I used to get in trouble for beating up bullies who were shaking down younger kids for their lunch money, I just couldn't ignore that way back in 1966.

I guess some things don't change.

1 comment:

Chap said...

Some things don't change, and some things do, eh?

You certainly have enjoyed more than your share of bureaucracy. I would think that most people in your position did not have the experience of government or the understanding of how it SHOULD work, and thus it's more painful for y'all..