Stateless is inspired by Cornelia Rau but where is she now? Exploring the shocking true story behind the latest Netflix series.
This year, we’ve had more time to tune into Netflix and they haven’t exactly skimped on the content, continuing to bring us gripping titles every week.
The latest to attract attention is Stateless, created by Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie.
The six-episode series takes place at an immigration detention centre and chronicles an array of stories. However, it’s Sofie’s (played by Yvonne Strahovski) tale which remains at the core.
Each episode reminds us that the story is “inspired by true events”, so let’s take the time to explore the experiences of the woman behind Sofie’s story…
Netflix’s Stateless is based on a true story
The narrative of a mentally-ill Australian-German woman unlawfully housed in a detention centre by Australia’s Immigration Department is based on the case of Cornelia Rau.
Cornelia was born in Germany but became a resident of Australia. When she refused to inform immigration officials of her identity, she was put in prison for six months and was then moved to Baxter Detention Centre; they thought she was an illegal immigrant and she wasn’t found until four months down the line.
In 1998 she began to become part of a cult called Kenja Communications but was later kicked out after apparently abandoning a performance. Following on from this, she was in and out of hospital, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and more.
After checking out of the hospital, she identified as a tourist from Munich called “Anna”; this is how she ended up detained as a suspected illegal immigrant.
As noted by the Radio Times, a number of doubts were raised regarding her identity at Baxter Detention Centre, with German Consulate staff arguing that she was most likely Australian.
According to the source, her sister and journalist Chris Rau wrote:
“Cornelia ended up in detention due to a mental illness. She has no recollection of her six months in the Brisbane jail and her four months in Baxter, near Port Augusta, much of that time (more than five weeks) spent in solitary confinement.”
The family discovered her whereabouts thanks to an article published in a newspaper back in January 2005. As a result, she was then moved back to a mental health facility.
Where is Cornelia Rau now?
The Radio Times highlights that she now lives in New South Wales.
Claire O’Connor – her old lawyer – has expressed that “she’s certainly in a better place than when she got out of detention.”
That’s wonderful to hear. The story of what happened to her made so many headlines when it broke, urging lots to worry about her situation after facing such an ordeal.
The source includes perspective from one of the lawyers on the case, George Newhouse, who felt she was the “trojan horse which exposed the cruelty and inhumanity of the immigration detention system”.
She was given $2.6 million in compensation in 2008.
Thanks to the release of Stateless, more people will be able to empathise with the horrors she endured.
In other news, were any Unsolved Mysteries cases solved?