Crikey reporter Sophie Black writes:

Deportee Robert
Jovicic remains in limbo without access to Medicare, permission to
work, or social security benefits, after the government announced it
will extend his special purpose visa
by six months. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone says Jovicic must
“change the patterns of his behaviour,” but so far DIMA hasn’t offered
him any advice on how to re-enter society while remaining unemployed
and living in his nephews’ bedroom.

“I’m looking for Mr Jovicic
to demonstrate to me and the wider Australian community that he is
truly able to change the patterns of behaviour that led to the initial
decision to cancel his visa”, Senator Vanstone said. The government
returned Jovicic to Australia on compassionate grounds last month after
he declared that he was stateless and would die if he stayed in Serbia.

Ross
Waraker, a spokesperson for Jovicic, told Crikey that before former
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock deported the former drug addict and
convicted criminal to Serbia on character grounds in June 2004, he was
off the drugs, was “running a business, had a house and was in a long
term relationship”.

Jovicic’s relationship broke up after he
was deported, he no longer has a house or a business and he is now
financially dependent on his sister Susanna Jovicic, with whom he’s
currently staying. Ms Jovicic’s children are sleeping in the lounge
room in an effort to accommodate their uncle.

Before he left
Serbia, the Australian government was providing Jovicic, who suffers
from chronic medical conditions including an enlarged prostate, with
medical care and accommodation. Back in Australia, the terms of his
temporary visa mean that he’s not eligible for Medicare or social
security benefits and is not permitted to work.

Jovicic’s
current living conditions could be seen as a less than ideal
environment in which to attempt a change to the “patterns of his
behaviour”. DIMA initially offered Jovicic a case worker and the “Reconnecting People” assistance package to help him settle back into Australian life. DIMA has since withdrawn the offer, with no explanation.

This seems to contradict Vanstone’s big belief in rehabilitation – as Minister for Justice and Customs, she released an Australian Institute of Criminology
report in 1999 which suggested that rehabilitation programs are often a
more effective way of stopping criminals re-offending than disciplinary
approaches.

Peter Fray

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