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Deportee with terminal cancer says Australian Government treats 501s like numbers not humans

Newshub logo Newshub 5/07/2021 Juliet Speedy
a man looking at the camera: Shayne Forrester says concerns about his health were ignored while he was on Christmas Island. © Newshub Shayne Forrester says concerns about his health were ignored while he was on Christmas Island.

A 501 deportee with terminal cancer believes the reason he's dying is because Australian authorities ignored his symptoms and complaints on Christmas Island and by the time he was deported to New Zealand, he was riddled with the disease.

Deportee with terminal cancer says Australian Government treats 501s like numbers not humans
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Shayne Forrester owns his criminal past, but says 501s are treated like numbers not people.

Forrester lived in Australia for 23 years and it was there he discovered methamphetamine.

"I became an addict and it just deteriorated my whole life," he says.

"I went to jail several times just for crimes to do with drugs."

He survived his addiction and multiple imprisonments.

"I have done wrong in the past. I paid for my crimes, I served the time."

But now he's dealing with a life sentence - terminal with prostate cancer.

"It's also spread to bone cancer," he says.

Forrester's last arrest was for selling meth, and after serving that prison sentence he was flown to the Christmas Island detention centre - even though he'd told them about his symptoms.

"[I'm] in pain, very uncomfortable, handcuffed on a plane, have to go to the toilet a lot of times, it's horrible."

He says Christmas Island is far worse than prison, they were locked down 23 hours a day and concerns about his health were ignored.

"I think they did one urine test while I was there and I never got a result of that one."

Forrester's health deteriorated so badly, he agreed to be deported and ended up back in Christchurch where he was quickly diagnosed with cancer.

He contacted 501 advocate Filipa Payne from quarantine.

"He was very distressed, he was isolated, he was alone and looking for people to connect with here in New Zealand," Payne says.

She says criminal or not, his human rights have been abused.

"The fact that he received no medical care, no assistance to help him or nothing addressing this completely is on the Australian Government."

And she says Forrester isn't alone.

"You can speak to over 200 people on Christmas Island now who continue to be denied medical care, there are no facilities on Christmas Island to help these people."

Newshub contacted the Australian Government several times with a waiver from Forrester to discuss his case but had no response.  But Forrester has one for the Australian Government.

"[They should be] held accountable for what's happened with myself. They should also look after other people while they're in detention, don't treat them like numbers, treat them like humans."

He's joining the 501s class action against that government, looking for justice of his own. 

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