Kiwis in Australian detention centres say New Zealand Government has forgotten them during COVID-19 outbreak

Kiwis stuck in detention centres in Australia say the New Zealand Government has forgotten about them during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Twelve detainees, who spoke to Newshub from the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre, say they've agreed to return home but our Government has delayed their deportation.

"We feel like we've been forgotten here by the New Zealand Government," Kiwi detainee Ray Siloi told Newshub.

As many as 80 New Zealand citizens residing in Australia were being detained at the Melbourne centre, Siloi said.

Detainee advocate Filipa Payne said she knew of 65 Kiwi detainees in different centres across Australia who had agreed to voluntary deportation to New Zealand.

"Australia would like them to return here and the New Zealand Government at the moment is not allowing that process to happen," Payne said.

Official advice from the Department of Corrections to Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis, released publicly on Friday, revealed deportations were halted at some point due to COVID-19.

It suggested deportations from Australia could have restarted when the country moved down to alert level 3 - almost two months ago.

"As you would expect, over a period of lockdown, there was really a hiatus," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Siloi was given a letter by Australian Border Force two weeks ago which stated he would be deported on or after June 18, escorted by Australian officials, however it was yet to go ahead.

"We were told that our removal has been delayed due to the New Zealand Government," he said.

He believed the hold up was a quarantine issue, however Payne claimed Australia offered to cover the costs.

"That's what I've been told through Border Force contacts, that they would pay for every detainee," she said.

"The New Zealand Government has said no."

The Prime Minister said an offer had not been made.

"No and nor would I expect that. The Australian government considers them to be New Zealand's issue, you'll well know that I've often taken a different position on that issue."

Melbourne detainees told Newshub they would all happily quarantine upon arrival.

The detainees are known as '501s', a namesake from a 2014 Australian law change that made it easier to deport New Zealand criminals who have old criminal convictions or associate with criminals.

Siloi had no convictions in Australia, however he said his visa was revoked because he had links to the Victorian Rebels bikie gang.

Another detainee, Lance Eades, had been jailed twice, for stealing tools from his workplace and possessing a firearm when he attempted to take his own life.

"I think the New Zealand public think that we're all rapists and murderers, but we're not," Eades said.

"We're just average people that have made small mistakes in our lives, gone to jail for six to 12 months, and now this has happened."

Average people that dream of being quarantined on home soil.