South West Sydney Legal Centre Case Study

An identity at last….

Taito’s story

An identity at last….

 

Taito came to see us explaining he had no official identity.  Taito migrated to Australia when he was only 3 years old, accompanied by his aunty.  As a youth, Taito was charged and convicted of a serious crime and jailed for several years before the actual offender had an attack of conscience and confessed to the crime.

 

By that stage Taito’s Fijian passport had expired and was misplaced.  Additionally, Taito had never held a drivers licence and had no form of photo identification.  This made it extremely difficult for Taito to obtain employment.  If he did manage to find some work, he was vulnerable to exploitation because of his predicament.

 

Taito was unable to obtain finance, a drivers license, a credit card, travel overseas, all the things we take for granted that flow from being able to establish our identity.  Even his bank closed his account after conducting an identification review.  Taito’s dilemma caused severe financial and emotional hardship for himself, his wife and children.  It also generated serious friction in his marriage.

 

Before coming to see us, Taito had tried desperately to secure the assistance of the Fijian Embassy by having them issue a new Fijian passport.  Their response was that they needed photo identification to do so.

 

SWSLC went about issuing a number of Freedom Information requests against the Australian Government, particularly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, to access documents which, we suspected could establish a foundation for Taito’s identify.  At first, the FOI request was refused on grounds including, amongst other things, that Taito could not prove his identity.  Needless to say, both we and Taito were becoming extremely frustrated by this red tape driven paradoxical approach.

 

We lodged a successful review of the decision to refuse to release documents.  The released documents were not what we had hoped for, but there were one or two documents that we identified as possibly valuable, with which to approach the Fijian embassy.

 

After many submissions and MUCH haggling, we convinced the Fijian embassy to issue Taito a new Fijian passport.

 

Taito attended our office to collect his new passport with his young son.  His face could hardly contain his huge smile.  He said “I feel like a teenager getting my licence for the first time….I feel like I am getting my life back.

 

In anticipation of the passport arriving, Taito had already arranged a job which he was due to start within days, a driving test and a flight to Fiji to visit relatives he had not been able to see since he was 3 years old.

 

 

* Names have been changed to protect our clients’ privacy