When the Australian Border Force visited Christian Feetham’s work looking for him, he thought something had gone wrong with one of his eBay orders.
But three weeks later he found himself in Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre while his visa was being considered for cancellation, and he had no idea whether or when he would be released, or deported.
The Apollo Bay resident, who was born in New Zealand and moved permanently to Australia when he was 17 months old, believes he is being detained and having his visa eligibility reviewed on the grounds of “bad character”.
The Federal Government amended section 501 of the Migration Act (1958) in 2014 which strengthened character visa cancellation provisions in the act, by adding additional grounds to prevent non-citizens from passing a character test.
Christian said he grew up as a “wild kid” subjected to physical and mental abuse by his father.
He acknowledged that he had had issues with the law, including four years of incarceration over “a couple of different occasions”, but had cleaned up his act and worked hard, paid his taxes and always respected his community.
“I sort of ignored a lot of issues in life and showed a lot of resentment towards my family,” Christian said.
“So I grew up pretty wild, not respecting the law, not respecting myself, but I always respected the people in my community, and that’s probably why I have a lot of people behind me on this.”
Christian said his detention had turned his entire family’s life upside down, with the responsibility of managing the family’s Apollo Bay farm, which he was operating while also working for a concreting company, now falling onto his mum Barbara Henriksen’s shoulders.
“The farm, it got a bit too much for Mum a couple of years ago so she moved away, then one of my sisters was there and then I took it over, we run 250 sheep,” he said.
See today’s Colac Herald for more.