Deported woman found alive
By ALEX EASTON and AAP
AN Australian citizen deported as an illegal immigrant not long after being involved in an accident in Lismore in 2001 has been found safe in the Philippines.
Vivian Alvarez, also known as Vivian Young, Vivian Solon and Vivian Wilson, was yesterday in talks with the Australian Consul-General in the northern Philippines hospice she has been at for the past four years.
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone yesterday said the Federal Government would bring Ms Alvarez home and help her settle back into Australian life, if she wished.
The discovery of Ms Alvarez in the northern city of Olongapu follows a monthlong search four years after she was deported as an illegal immigrant.
In recent days claims have emerged that Ms Alvarez was involved in a car accident in Lismore in the days or weeks before she was deported, with claims at one point that she was taken to Coolangatta Airport by Immigration officers while still in a wheelchair.
Local authorities have cast doubt over some of those claims, but the North Coast Area Health Service has confirmed Ms Alvarez was admitted to the hospital after an incident in 2001.
A spokesman for the hospital declined to go into details on the reasons for Ms Alvarez's admission, or her condition when she was admitted, but rejected suggestions she had left in the company of immigration officers.
Richmond Local Area Police commander Superintendent Bruce Lyons said his officers had searched for records of a car accident involving Ms Alvarez after the claims emerged early this week, but came up empty.
However, another member of Lismore's Filipino community, Luz Press, said she recalled being told in 2001 of a Philippinowoman being treated at St Vincents Hospital after an accident.
Ms Press said she tried to visit with a gift of oranges, but was told the woman already left the hospital and gone to Sydney.
The health service was yesterday unable to say whether there had been public beds available at St Vincents at that time.
Members of the Northern Rivers Filipino community said they were shocked to learn of Ms Alvarez's Lismore incident, saying they had a long-standing practice of helping Filipino women in trouble.
Filipino community member Luth Batt said she had received calls from relatives in other cities asking why she had not helped Ms Alvarez within minutes of the news breaking early this week.
The answer, she said, was simply that she did not know about her.
"No-one contacted us," she said. "If there is someone in the hospital, we al- ways go and visit them."