Response to the 2011 Australian Human Rights Commission
Statement on Immigration Detention in Villawood
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) welcomes the opportunity
to respond to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) public statement
on Immigration Detention at Villawood.
DIAC places a high value on the work of the AHRC and appreciates the
AHRC’s substantial recognition of the consistent efforts of staff
supporting the management of clients in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre
The AHRC has outlined a number of key issues related to Immigration Detention
in Villawood. DIAC comments in response to these recommendations are outlined
Recommendation 1: The Australian Government should end the current system
of mandatory and indefinite immigration detention.
The Australian Government should implement reforms it announced in 2008
under which immigration detention is to be used as a last resort and for the
shortest practicable period, people are to be detained in the least restrictive
environment appropriate to their individual circumstances, and there is a
presumption that people will be permitted to reside in the community unless they
pose an unacceptable risk.
The need to detain should be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into
consideration individual circumstances. A person should only be held in an
immigration detention facility if they are individually assessed as posing an
unacceptable risk to the Australian community and that risk cannot be met in a
less restrictive way. Otherwise, they should be permitted to reside in
community-based alternatives while their immigration status is resolved.
The Australian Government remains committed to all measures to prevent,
deter and enforce compliance to preserve the integrity of Australia’s
migration program, while treating clients humanely. The government considers
mandatory immigration detention an essential component of strong border control.
The government continues to see the need to retain the system of mandatory
detention, along with strong border security measures, to ensure the orderly
processing of migration to our country.
It remains the government’s
position that indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention is not acceptable and
the length and the conditions of detention are subject to regular review.
Continuing detention is dependent upon factors such as management of health,
identity and security risks and ongoing assessments of risks to the community or
the integrity of Australia’s migration programs. These assessments are
completed as expeditiously as possible.
We note the Australian Human
Rights Commission’s (AHRC) previous position that a legitimate purpose of
immigration detention can be for the purposes of conducting security checks.
The screening mechanisms in place ensure that a balance is met between the need
to protect Australia from people who may pose a risk to our national security,
and Australia meeting its obligations to those who are found to be in need of
Recommendation 2: The Australian Government should comply with its
international human rights obligations by providing for a decision to detain a
person, or a decision to continue a person’s detention, to be subject to
prompt review by a court. To comply with article 9(4) of the ICCPR, the court
must have the power to order the person’s release if their detention is
not lawful. The lawfulness of their detention is not limited to domestic
legality – it includes whether the detention is compatible with the
requirements of article 9(1) of the ICCPR, which affirms the right to liberty
and prohibits arbitrary detention.
DIAC notes the AHRC’s view that
Australia is not complying with its international obligations in this regard and
that the AHRC has cited the views of the United Nations Human Rights Committee
in A v Australia. The AHRC
may be aware that Australia disagreed with that Committee’s interpretation
of Article 9(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) and expressed to the Committee its view that under that Article,
judicial review needs to be available to consider the lawfulness of detention in
the context of domestic law, rather than issues of
Nevertheless, the government is considering ways of
improving the review of the appropriateness of detention.
and Ombudsman’s reviews consider the appropriateness of the person’s
detention, their detention arrangements and other matters relevant to their
ongoing detention and case resolution.
Senior officer reviews occur
every six months - at three months initially, and then if a client is still in
detention at nine, 15 and 21 months and so on, for as long as the client remains
in detention. These reviews fall between the Ombudsman’s six-month
reporting periods; the Ombudsman conducts an ‘Own motion enquiry’
into all clients detained at 6, 12 and 18 months after initial detention. From
the two-year mark of a client’s detention the Commonwealth Ombudsman has a
statutory obligation under the Migration Act 1958 to investigate and to
report to the Minister every six months a client remains in detention. The
Minister is obliged to table all Ombudsman reports in Parliament.
Recommendation 3: DIAC and the Minister for Immigration should make
greater use of community-based alternatives to holding people in immigration
detention facilities for prolonged and indefinite periods. This should include
alternatives to detention such as bridging visas, and alternative forms of
detention such as Community Detention.
DIAC and the Minister for Immigration should make full use of Community
Detention, particularly for people who meet the priority criteria under the
Residence Determination Guidelines. This includes children and accompanying
family members, people who may have experienced torture or trauma, people with
significant physical or mental health concerns and people whose cases will take
a considerable period to substantively resolve.
On 18 October 2010, the Australian Government announced an expansion of its
existing Residence Determination (community detention) program to progressively
move significant numbers of children and vulnerable family groups out of
immigration detention facilities and into community-based
accommodation. Whilst Residence
determination is not a visa grant, it allows children and their families to move
about in the community under the care of the Commonwealth and its Non-Government
Organisation (NGO) partners.
As at 18 May 2011, the Minister had approved 799 clients (including 401
children) for Residence Determination, consistent with the terms of the
government’s 18 October 2010 announcement.
As at this date, 604 clients (including 290 children) are residing in
community detention. The remaining clients are either in the process of being
transferred into their community-based accommodation or have received protection
visas either prior to, or after, being transferred into community detention.
The capacity for this to occur is limited by the availability of suitable
accommodation and support services in the community.
The Australian Red Cross is the lead agency contracted by the department to
deliver community detention. The Australian Red Cross are working with other
NGOs, including church groups to source accommodation without putting extra
pressure on housing that is already in demand from vulnerable Australians.
While placement of minors and their accompanying families in community-based
accommodation remains the government’s priority, there will be a continued
need to accommodate them and their families in low to medium-security facilities
and alternative places of detention (APOD) whilst community-based accommodation
is being sourced.
Recommendation 4: Until recommendations 1 and 2 are implemented, the
Australian Government should avoid the prolonged detention of asylum seekers by
complying with its New Directions in Detention policy under which
detention of asylum seekers is for the purpose of conducting health, identity
and security checks. The security check should not be interpreted as requiring a
full ASIO security assessment for each individual before they are released from
an immigration detention facility. Rather, the security check should consist of
a summary assessment of whether an individual would pose an unacceptable risk to
the Australian community. That assessment should be made when the individual is
taken into immigration detention, or as soon as possible thereafter.
Beginning in March 2011, the department implemented a new security indicator
triage method developed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
(ASIO). All clients assessed under the new security methodology are clients
found to satisfy the definition of refugee set out in Article 1A of the United
Nations’ Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of
DIAC staff using the new methodology are trained by ASIO to assess several
security indicators particular to client cohort nationalities.
During March and April, over 1200 clients were triaged using the new
methodology and indicators prepared by ASIO. Of these, around 200 (17%) clients
were referred to ASIO for further scrutiny. Over 1000 (83%) other clients did
not match a security indicator and they have joined the Protection Visa
DIAC is now working to prepare robust and resilient operating procedures to
streamline the security indicator triage function. It is anticipated 'same day
service' will be possible for many clients assessed under the new system.
Recommendation 5: The Australian Government should ensure that durable
solutions are provided for individuals who have received adverse security
assessments from ASIO, and that they are removed from immigration detention
facilities as soon as possible.
The government is actively exploring durable solutions for individuals with
adverse security assessments that are consistent with Australia's international
obligations, including its non-refoulement obligations. These solutions
may include resettlement in a third country or safe return to their country of
origin where country circumstances allow, where the risk of relevant harm
occurring no longer exists or where reliable and effective assurances can be
received from the home country. However, the government considers that it is
not appropriate for individuals who have received an adverse security assessment
to live in the Australian community while such solutions are sought.
Recommendation 6: People whose visas have been cancelled under section 501
of the Migration Act should not automatically be categorised as posing an
unacceptable risk to the Australian community. They should only be held in an
immigration detention facility if they have been individually assessed as posing
an unacceptable risk and that risk cannot be met in a less restrictive way.
Consideration of appropriate alternatives should begin as soon as DIAC becomes
aware that an individual is likely to have their visa cancelled and be taken
into immigration detention.
An individual who has had a visa cancelled or
refused under section 501 of the Act is not precluded from having their case
considered by the Minister under section 197AB of the Act for a possible
community detention placement.
Recommendation 7: The redevelopment of Villawood IDC should be undertaken
as soon as possible. It should include the demolition of Blaxland compound,
ensure that people are detained in the least restrictive form of detention
possible, and address the infrastructure concerns raised by the Commission in
its 2008 Immigration detention report.
The Department of Finance
and Deregulation (Finance) is managing the Villawood IDC redevelopment project
on behalf of DIAC. The project is subject to the governance requirements of
publicly funded Commonwealth projects including review by the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Public Works, heritage referral to the Department of
Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities and examination
by Finance’s Gateway Review process. These approvals are being undertaken
in a timely manner and the project is currently running on time and on
DIAC is also committed to engaging stakeholders such as the AHRC
in an iterative design process to ensure the new facility not only reflects the
2008 and 2009 concerns raised by the AHRC, but that it is able to flexibly
respond to evolving immigration policy over the next 50 years.
provision of $186.7 million to extensively redevelop Villawood IDC, announced by
the government as part of the 2009-10 Budget, includes funding for new
facilities to replace Blaxland compound.
Recommendation 8: DIAC should develop a written policy setting out the
decision-making process, criteria and rationale for placing a person in the
annexe in Blaxland compound at Villawood IDC. The policy should include
requirements for each person’s placement to be reviewed on a regular basis
and for information to be provided to the person about the outcome of that
review and the reasons for the decision. The policy should mandate an individual
management plan that specifies the purpose of the placement and the strategies
staff will use to contain the risk. The annexe should not be used for managing
people who have been involved in violent or aggressive behaviour at the same
time as it is being used to monitor people who have been placed on observation
because they are at risk of suicide or self-harm.
The department’s draft ‘Safe use of more restrictive
detention’ policy (which is currently under review by the Detention Health
Advisory Group [DeHAG] Mental Health Sub-Group) will assist in guiding decisions
in relation to placing people in the Blaxland Dormitory 3 Annexe or the Murray
The department is of the view that, in normal circumstances, the Client
Placement Review (CPR) managed by the Compliance and Case Resolution Division
(CCRD) is the appropriate means of determining a client’s placement. The
‘Safe use of more restrictive detention’ policy will assist in
informing decisions made under the CPR.
Where concerns exist as to the self-harm or suicide risk state of a client,
the department’s contracted Health Services Provider, International Health
and Medical Services (IHMS), through the Prevention Committee and/or the
Psychological Support Program (PSP) Committee at Villawood IDC, will advise on
appropriate accommodation placement, based on clinical factors.
The PSP calls for a safe environment where clients can be monitored and
engaged with. Currently, Blaxland and Murray are the only sites within
Villawood IDC which allow this type of observation. As a general rule, unless
the degree of risk necessitates accommodating an individual in a highly safe and
secure environment, every effort is made to accommodate the person in their
regular living environment.
Recommendation 9: An independent body should be charged with monitoring
the provision of physical and mental health services in immigration detention,
and adequate resources should be allocated to that body to fulfil this
The DeHAG and its Mental Health Sub-Group provide the department with
independent expert advice to design, develop, implement and monitor health and
mental health care services and policies for people in immigration detention.
The department works with the DeHAG and other key health stakeholders to improve
the physical and mental health of people under our care.
The department has recently contracted an external provider to assist in the
review of clinical governance processes. This includes the development of a
health audit tool and a pilot clinical review of health services provided by
IHMS on Christmas Island. Following the finalisation of this review, the
department will investigate the option of conducting similar clinical reviews at
other immigration detention facilities.
Recommendation 10: In relation to the provision of physical and mental
health services, DIAC should:
- Consider increasing the staffing level of the IHMS physical health
service and the IHMS mental health service at Villawood IDC.
- Require at least a minimal IHMS presence at Villawood IDC twenty four
hours per day, seven days per week.
- Overhaul the clinical governance framework for the delivery of mental
health services to detainees within Villawood IDC and across the detention
network. This would involve a consultant psychiatrist overseeing mental health
service delivery, providing clinical supervision of staff and accepting clinical
responsibility for the provision of clinical care.
- Amend the IHMS contract to incorporate active outreach work in the
accommodation compounds at Villawood IDC, and address this issue in a consistent
way across the detention network.
- Require that IHMS provide at least a minimal onsite presence at Sydney
Clients in immigration detention are provided access to
health care at a standard comparable to that available to the general Australian
The unique circumstances of clients in immigration detention, including at
Villawood IDC, typically necessitates a high proportion of physical and mental
health services and resources.
As at 30 April 2011, there were seven full-time mental health staff working
at Villawood IDC – a Mental Health Team Leader (psychologist), three
additional psychologists, a mental health nurse and two counsellors. An
additional counsellor is also employed by IHMS on a casual basis, and provides
services as required. In addition to these services, a consultant Psychiatrist
is also employed by IHMS on a casual basis and attends Villawood IDC as
While the department believes that IHMS staffing at Villawood IDC recognises
and reflects the specific needs of clients, we are constantly monitoring health
service provision to ensure this remains appropriate to client needs. This
recommendation will be considered in the context of this ongoing review
With regards to the AHRC’s recommendation around clinical governance of
mental health services at Villawood IDC, the department notes that the provision
of mental health services at Villawood IDC is managed by the Villawood IDC
Mental Health Team Leader (a psychologist), with oversight from the IHMS
Psychological Services Manager (also a psychologist) and the IHMS Medical
Director (a Psychiatrist). Where required, advice is sought from the treating
The department is currently considering two proposals from IHMS recommending
an increase in the Psychiatrist presence at Villawood IDC and the creation of a
dedicated Medical Director of Mental Health (a senior Psychiatrist), who would
provide strategic and operational leadership for the various mental health
disciplines available at each place of detention.
The department acknowledges the AHRC’s concerns around the lack of
active outreach services provided to clients at Villawood IDC and has
reconfirmed the need for outreach services with IHMS.
IHMS plans to provide mental health staff to walk the areas of the centre (as
has been done in facilities such as at Christmas Island IDC) to provide staff
with the opportunity to better interact with clients.
Currently, IHMS coordinates the delivery of both mental and primary health
care services for clients residing at the Sydney IRH, through the use of
community network providers.
The department has asked IHMS to review the current service delivery model at
Sydney Immigration Residential Housing with regards to its appropriateness.
Recommendation 11: In relation to self-harm and suicide, DIAC
- Consult with organisations that specialise in suicide prevention, as well
as mental health professionals including members of the Detention Health
Advisory Group, for advice about measures that should be taken to mitigate the
risk of further suicides across the detention network.
- Ensure that a safety audit is conducted across Villawood IDC and all
other detention facilities, and that all appropriate measures are taken to
minimise the risk of suicide and self-harm.
- Ensure that there is a clear written policy in place at each detention
facility, including Sydney IRH, setting out procedures for responding to threats
of self-harm or suicide, and ensure that all relevant staff are provided with
training on the policy and procedures.
The department shares the
AHRC's concern regarding the rate of self-harm across the detention network.
The department, through IHMS, endeavours to promote optimum mental health
through various programs and also through the screening and management of
clients ‘at risk’ through the PSP. IHMS reviews all critical
incidents and provides a comprehensive report to the department.
IHMS Mental Health Team Leaders at sites contribute to the prevention of
suicide and self-harm through involvement in the Prevention Committee Meetings
and by giving expert advice to the department on placement and client management
issues for individual clients. More directly, the IHMS Mental Health Team
focuses on the management of formal mental illness, suicide prevention and the
promotion of mental health well being through their direct therapeutic
engagement with clients.
The department is working to engage expert advice to help mitigate the risk
of further suicides within immigration detention. As noted in the AHRC’s
report, DeHAG is not mandated to monitor physical and mental health service
provision. DeHAG's role is to "provide the department with independent expert
advice to...monitor health and mental health care services". Following advice
from DeHAG, the department is working to access expert opinion through a Suicide
Prevention Working Group.
The department is also currently working with DeHAG to develop an appropriate
tool to be used for the purpose of conducting regular safety audits across the
The department is conducting a review into the implementation of the three
new mental health policies, including the PSP, and will take the AHRC’s
comments into consideration as part of this review. In the meantime, the
department will ensure its policies in this area are fully and effectively
The department is negotiating with IHMS to develop and deliver PSP training
to all stakeholders at Villawood IDC and Sydney IRH. Currently, departmental
staff working with clients at Villawood IDC and Sydney IRH are able to access
training on PSP through courses offered by the department’s College of
Recommendation 12: The Australian Government should implement the
outstanding recommendations of the report of the National Inquiry into Children
in Immigration Detention, A last resort?. These include that
Australia’s immigration detention laws should be amended, as a matter of
urgency, to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In
particular, the new laws should incorporate the following minimum features:
- There should be a presumption against the detention of children for
- A court or independent tribunal should assess whether there is a need to
detain children for immigration purposes within 72 hours of any initial
detention (for example, for the purposes of health, identity or security
- There should be prompt and periodic review by a court of the legality of
continuing detention of children for immigration purposes.
- All courts and independent tribunals should be guided by the following
- detention of children must be a measure of last resort and for
the shortest appropriate period of time
- the best interests of children must be a primary
- the preservation of family unity
- special protection and assistance for unaccompanied
- detention of children must be a measure of last resort and for
The government takes its international obligations seriously and acts
consistently to comply with all of its treaty obligations, including the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC).
Minors and their accompanying families are accommodated at low-security
sites, such as immigration transit accommodation (ITA) and immigration
residential housing (IRH), or other APOD, which includes commercial
accommodation such as motels.
Unaccompanied minors (UAM) are subject to the same accommodation arrangements
as other children, but are supported by appropriate carers and are held in an
APOD while health, security and identity checks are completed. They may then be
considered for a community placement if accommodation is available.
Section 4AA of the Migration Act 1958 states:
"(1) The Parliament affirms as a principle that a minor shall only be
detained as a measure of last resort.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the reference to a minor being
detained does not include a reference to a minor residing at a place in
accordance with a residence determination".
While section 4AA affirms the principle that children should only be detained
as a last resort, the principle does not limit the location and nature of any
such detention. DIAC maintains that Key Immigration Detention Value 3, which
provides that ‘children, including juvenile foreign fishers and, where
possible, their families, will not be detained in an immigration detention
centre’, broadly reflects our international obligations under Article 3(1)
and Article 37 of the CROC. Although children fall under the broad mandatory
detention framework, they are treated considerably differently than adults.
The facilities at Sydney IRH are designed to provide a comfortable
environment where children can continue to develop while they remain with their
families in detention. The processing of asylum claims by children is accorded
the highest priority to ensure compliance with our Article 37(b) obligations
under the CROC and that children remain in facilities for the ‘shortest
appropriate period of time’.
DIAC maintains that children in Sydney IRH have considerable liberties, and
are free to attend school, outings and other organised activities in order to
best permit them to live as unrestricted as possible while their claims (and
those of their families) are assessed.
Policy documents relating to the treatment of children in detention are
‘Children can be a vulnerable group of clients, particularly in the
context of compliance operations and immigration detention. The case management
of children presents particular challenges and requires special consideration of
the child’s individual and family circumstances. Although a child will not
be detained in an IDC, it is possible that a child may be subject to other
detention arrangements such as community detention or immigration residential
housing. If a child has been detained, whether or not this is with a parent or
guardian, the child will be actively case managed. The only exceptions might be
children who have been detained with their families and are on a rapid removal
pathway or juvenile foreign fishers.’
The department acknowledges the
AHRC’s concerns regarding assessments on the need to detain children and
undertaking periodic reviews. As previously noted in the response to
Recommendation 3, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and
Citizenship announced the intention to use existing powers under the Migration Act 1958 to progressively place significant numbers of UAMs and
vulnerable families in residence determination arrangements.
is in recognition of the increasing numbers of families with children and UAMs
in immigration detention and the lengthening period of time which some may have
been detained during processing of their claims or finalisation of their
The residence determination arrangements will be rolled out
progressively in partnership with community organisations over the coming months
and should go a large way to providing suitable longer term accommodation for
this group of clients.
A reference group has been formed involving key Council for Immigration
Services and Status Resolution (CISSR) representatives, DIAC officers and other
external members, including a representative from the Department of Families,
Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
As noted above in relation to Recommendation 2, DIAC has established Senior
Officer and Ombudsman’s reviews that now regularly consider the
appropriateness of a person’s ongoing detention, their detention
arrangements and other matters relevant to their detention and case resolution.
These review arrangements apply to people in Residence Determination
arrangements as well as to people in other places of
Recommendation 13: The Australian Government should, as
a matter of priority, implement the recommendations made by the Commission in A last resort? that:
- Australia’s laws should be amended so that the Minister for
Immigration is no longer the legal guardian of unaccompanied minors in
- An independent guardian should be appointed for unaccompanied minors in
The Immigration (Guardianship of
Children) Act 1946 (IGOC Act) provides that the Minister for Immigration and
Citizenship is the guardian of certain unaccompanied non-citizen children who
arrive in Australia with the intention of becoming permanent residents. It is
recognised that the IGOC Act is outdated and not designed for the purpose for
which it is now used. The department recognises the concerns that have been
raised about the perceived conflict of interest between the Minister's role as
guardian under the IGOC Act and being the decision-maker under the Migration
The Minister has asked the department to further develop several options for
the Minister’s consideration to address not only issues relating to
guardianship, but also to better target youth and settlement services for minors
and to better assess individual needs of unaccompanied minors. We will consult
with the AHRC and other key stakeholders on the implementation of these changes
Recommendation 14: In the absence of an independent guardian, DIAC
officers and staff members of detention service providers in each immigration
detention location should be provided with a clear written policy setting out
which DIAC officer has been delegated the Minister’s powers of legal
guardianship of unaccompanied minors in that location, and how and when that
guardian should be consulted.
Policy setting out the guardianship arrangements for UAMs in immigration
detention is contained in the Detention Services Manual which is published on
the departmental database (LEGEND). For UAMs who come under the IGOC Act, the
Minister delegates his guardianship to either a senior representative of a State
or Territory child welfare agency or the relevant departmental Regional Manager.
The operation of these guardianship powers are outlined in Serco's operational
The department agrees that policies and guidelines relating to the
application of the IGOC Act should be consistent, comprehensive and clear; and
agrees these should be regularly reviewed and updated, noting that this will
done in line with any decisions taken by the Minister to address issues relating
to guardianship, to better target youth and settlement services for minors and
to better assess individual needs.
A technical working group with a departmental representative and experts from
a variety of organisations including the Australian Red Cross and specialist
service providers, Life Without Barriers (LWB) and Marist Youth Care has been
established to develop policies and processes specifically related to
unaccompanied minors in community detention.
The department also notes the work of the Department of Families, Housing,
and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Attorney-General’s
Department on possible models for a Commission of Children as part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children
Recommendation 15: DIAC should pursue the adoption of a Memorandum of
Understanding with the NSW Department of Community Services in order to ensure
clear guidelines are in place regarding responsibilities and procedures relating
to the welfare and protection of children in immigration detention at Sydney IRH
or other locations in NSW.
There is an existing agreement in place between DIAC and the NSW Department
of Education and Training regarding minors in immigration detention, including
those in community detention. Under that agreement, a set of detailed
procedures are in place for the enrolment in NSW schools of minors in community
A meeting between the department and the NSW Government was held on 18
February 2011 to discuss possible variations to the agreement to reflect the
expanded numbers of minors in community detention in NSW.
The department has contracted LWB to provide the role of care coordination
for UAMs in detention facilities and APODs, including Sydney IRH.
LWB's care is facility based in the form of either 24 hour live-in care or
non-live-in daily care and welfare supports visits. Care services provided by
- Pastoral care provided by cultural and linguistically diverse cultural
- Provision of suitably trained and screened professional care staff to
supervise day to day care arrangements;
- Ensuring that the accommodation is maintained by the unaccompanied minors in
- Ensuring health, recreational, emotional and spiritual needs of the clients
are attended to, and appropriate referrals made where challenges or issues are
- Development of care and welfare support services and programs for
The Australian Red Cross provides support for
those UAMs in community detention arrangements.
DIAC and its services providers, who work with minors in any capacity, must
comply with relevant state child protection legislation.
Recommendation 16: DIAC should ensure that all relevant DIAC officers and
staff members of detention service providers are provided with a localised
policy setting out the requirements, procedures and contact details for making
child welfare and protection notifications in relation to concerns that arise in
respect of children in immigration detention in the location in which they work.
The departmental policy is that any suspicion or allegation relating to child
welfare should be immediately referred to the relevant state/territory welfare
authority regardless of whether or not mandatory reporting is a requirement.
Regional Managers are to escalate any concerns they have in relation to child
welfare issues, including allegations or suspicion of abuse or neglect, to the
Assistant Secretary, Compliance & Case Resolution, East & North or the
Assistant Secretary, Compliance & Case Resolution, South & West
(depending upon the geographical location of the Immigration Detention
Facility), who will liaise with the relevant state or territory welfare
These lines of communication are documented in the departmental instruction
concerning minors contained in the Detention Services Manual. These
instructions, which were updated on 15 May 2011, provide policy guidance to
departmental and Serco staff.
DIAC staff are advised of new or revised instructions by means of an email.
Serco is also advised by means of a letter with a copy of the revised
Recommendation 17: DIAC should ensure that all
people in immigration detention at Villawood have access to:
- adequate outdoor recreation spaces including grassy and shaded
- adequate indoor areas for educational and recreational
- a range of recreational and educational activities conducted on a regular
and frequent basis
- a freely accessible library area stocked with reading materials in
languages spoken by people in detention
- adequate access to communication facilities including internet facilities
- opportunities to attend religious services in the community, should they
wish to do so.
The department provides infrastructure to support
the provision of passive and active recreation, educational programs, religious
observance, access to reading materials and internet facilities. Unfortunately
many of these buildings were lost or damaged during the recent fires and the
department is in the process of sourcing replacements.
Prior to the incidents in April 2011, Serco had prepared a proposal to
upgrade the amenities in Villawood IDC, including Hughes, Fowler as well as
Whilst the recent incident at Villawood IDC has hindered our
ability to implement these changes in the initial timeframes as planned, having
sufficient equipment and facilities to enable our clients access to activities,
library, computers and recreation remains a priority in Villawood IDC.
The immediate priority is restoring essential services such as computer
and internet access. IT solutions are currently under consideration to enable
facilities to be restored as quickly as possible. Computers for Fowler and
Hughes are currently on order and should arrive soon for client use. The
replacement of the existing football field in Fowler with an artificially turfed
pitch is also being progressed.
New recreation equipment such as sporting equipment has been purchased and is
now available for client use independently and as a part of structured
Serco management have also advised that a plan for further improvements in
Blaxland is currently under review. One of the aims of this plan will be to
address the availability and use of recreation space within Blaxland to provide
client opportunities for further participation and engagement in programs and
activities for their welfare and well-being.
Library services will be restored in
Fowler once sufficient space is made available after repair works are carried
out on impacted infrastructure. Blaxland will also be receiving further stock. A
well-stocked, language-appropriate library is already established within Hughes.
A monitored borrowing system will soon be introduced for clients to access books
at Villawood IDC and to better facilitate borrowing and fair distribution of
books amongst all clients.
telephones are available in Fowler, Hughes, Banksia and Blaxland. Telephone
lines were impacted during the recent unrest but this service has been restored.
Programs and Activities
Serco have delivered Programs
and Activities schedules for Villawood IDC that have met with Regional
Management approval with the view that further improvements are implemented
moving forward. Serco has recently appointed a new Programs and Activities
Manager at Villawood IDC. As a result, we expect to see an improvement in the
variety and frequency of structured recreational and educational activities
within Villawood IDC. DIAC will continue to monitor the provision of programs
and activities and assess the performance of Serco in the delivery of these
services as per the contractual requirements.
Community volunteers are
also continuing to deliver their services at Villawood IDC as a part of the
overall Programs and Activities schedule.
Attendance of religious
services in the community is governed by departmental guidelines on external
excursions as detailed in the response to Recommendation 18 below.
Recommendation 18: DIAC should ensure that people in immigration detention
at Villawood IDC are provided with regular opportunities to leave the detention
environment on external excursions.
DIAC should implement consistent standards for external excursions across
the detention network. Standards for the conduct of a minimum number of external
excursions should be specified in the Serco contracts applicable to all
detention facilities, and financial penalties should be applied if those
standards are not met.
Current departmental guidelines on external excursions are detailed in the
Detention Services Manual (Chapter 8 - Safety & security Excursions). An
update to those guidelines is scheduled to be made on 1 July 2011.
DIAC supports the implementation of meaningful programs and activities,
including external excursions, across the detention network. DIAC also supports
the implementation, where possible, of consistent standards for external
The department notes that availability and variety of suitable excursion
destinations is not consistent at all locations across the detention network.
Within these constraints, however, this recommendation is supported.
A v Australia 
UNHRC 7; CCPR/C/59/D/560/1993 (30 April
 Minister for Immigration
and Citizenship, Joint Media Release with the Prime Minister, 18 October
2010, viewed 11 February 2011 http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/cb/2010/cb155484.htm.