On Monday Robert Jovicic is set to be detained in Villawood detention centre to face imminent deportation to Serbia for his refusal to apply for Serbian citizenship. At least he thinks it’s Monday; he can’t seem to get an answer from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

DIAC is eager to promote its new culture of transparency and responsibility to its “clients.” Remember the slogan? “People are our business.”

The reforms began under Amanda Vanstone and her DIMIA team, and now newly minted Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews is leading the charge with the help of DIAC.

DIAC’s Client Service Charter reads:

Our work is underpinned by our guiding principle of “people our business”. We are committed to having well trained and supported staff and to developing and maintaining an open and accountable culture that is fair and reasonable in dealing with its clients.

But if Jovicic is a client, he wants his money back. The first correspondence from Vanstone to inform Jovicic of his February detainment upon failure to apply for Serbian citizenship landed in the letterbox on 27 December:

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A comprehensive follow up letter was sent in early January by a senior departmental official that seemed more in line with DIAC’s commitment to customer service:

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But Jovicic’s friend and spokesperson Ross Waraker told Crikey that he sent a letter on the 10th of January requesting an extension of time of at least six weeks while Jovicic sought clarification on his situation.

Despite following up the request with numerous phone calls, Waraker, and Jovicic, have yet to receive a response from anyone.

Last Sunday Jovicic was able to confirm that the department had received his request, but the information didn’t come from DIAC – he read about it in the paper.

“Help us help you”, says DIAC:

We are committed to service delivery that is timely, open and accountable, and responsive to your needs…

If you are detained, you can expect to be given information relating to your circumstances, personalised service which is lawful and humane, and to be kept informed about issues relevant to your detention.

Perhaps Jovicic should skip the charter, and head straight to the feedback section.

Peter Fray

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