Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Government Assistance for Vivian Solon already on the table

Claims in a media report that the Australian Government is delaying the return of Ms Vivian Solon to Australia and not offering her an appropriate assistance package are misleading and wrong.

Senator Patterson said today that the Australian Government places a very high priority on the care and welfare of Ms Solon.

“Australians can be assured that the Australian Embassy in Manila is working on a daily basis with Ms Solon and her family to address her needs and is doing everything it can to assist her to prepare for her return,” Senator Patterson said.

“Ms Solon has been provided with free accommodation, a living allowance, carer support, transport and medical treatment in Manila at the Government’s expense. A senior Centrelink officer has been sent to Manila to assist Ms Solon while in Manila and identify her care needs in Australia.

“The Government has also made it clear that it is ready to pay for Ms Solon’s airfares to Australia and a family member whenever she is ready to travel.

“The timing of Ms Solon’s return to Australia, however, is solely a matter for her to determine.

“At this stage, Ms Solon has not yet agreed when she wishes to return to Australia.

“There is no uncertainty in the assistance package put forward for Ms Solon.

“The Government has on three separate occasions proposed an assistance package for Ms Solon when she arrives in Australia. So far she has, through her lawyers, not accepted this assistance.

“This generous package includes free medical and health care and carer support up to 24 hours a day for as long as they are needed. The package also includes a lump sum resettlement payment, free accommodation for six months close to medical and treatment facilities and a carer payment for a family member for six months.

“In addition, the Government will assist Ms Solon to quickly access any entitlements she has to long term income support payments. A Centrelink officer has been identified in Sydney to meet Ms Solon and assist her with these matters and all her arrangements on her arrival.

“At Ms Solon’s request, the Government has assisted her brother to get a visitor visa to accompany her to Australia and give her support. He has also been advised that there are alternative visas for which he may be able to apply should he wish to work while in Australia.

“Practical details can be put in place as soon as Ms Solon responds to the Government’s offer of assistance and, in particular, indicates when she would like to return home,” said Senator Patterson.