Coast-raised mum to be deported over shoplifting conviction
ANGELA Russell has made her share of mistakes.
But as she languishes in Darwin's Wickham Point detention centre awaiting deportation to New Zealand, a country she left as a three-year-old with her parents in 1978, it is doubtful she would have ever realised it could come to this.
New legislation, introduced by the Abbott Government, has caught her out on character grounds under Section 501 of the Migration Act.
The Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 requires mandatory repatriation for sentences greater than 12 months and was meant to target assault, other violent offences, drug-related crime and child sex criminals.
The former Buddina State School and Kawana State High student where she was sports captain, worked on the Coast in a fast food outlet and later at Troppos Nightclub and a number of retail outlets.
But any sense she may have had of herself as Australian changed in April when, at the end of three-month imprisonment for shoplifting in Townsville, Angela was told she was not returning home to her 16-year-old daughter in Blackwater.
Instead she has spent the six-month parole period attached to her sentence in Darwin where she is confined with asylum seekers and violent criminals who are being dealt with under the same provisions of the Migration Act.
Her most recent brush with the law followed a 2012 conviction in Emerald where she narrowly escaped jail after being found guilty of common assault and fraud and a 2008 case where she pleaded guilty in Maroochydore Magistrates Court to burglary and threatening violence.
Angela's daughter Breanna remains on her own in Blackwater Housing Commission accommodation while her four-year old son is in the custody of grand parents on the Sunshine Coast.
Breanna, who has been sitting waiting for her mother to be released from prison, has had no counselling or even a check from Child Safety.
Ms Russell has appealed the decision but was only assigned a case manager on Monday.
Sunshine Coast friend Maxine Bell who has known Angela for the past 10 years, described her as a struggling single mum trying to survive.
"She has a Housing Commission home, has been on a pension and receives Medicare,'' she said.
"She is regarded as Australian.
"Now she's committed a petty crime and faces deportation.''
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says the deportation policy will be at the top of his list when he speaks with Malcolm Turnbull for the first time after he took over the role in Australia.
Mr Key told New Zealand media the policy, which has caught out hundreds of Kiwis, is too harsh.
"We would say someone that has committed a relatively low-level crime, with not much connection to New Zealand having left a long time ago - then actually deportation sounds pretty harsh to us,'' he said.
"So we are interested in having those discussions with Malcolm Turnbull."
The law change has already seen 406 visa cancellations, 95 deportations to New Zealand with a further 184 stranded in detention centres.