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Good Sams join campaign for Royal Commission into Immigration Detention


A march in Melbourne in support of refugees (Facebook/Refugee Action Collective Victoria)

"As a democratic society we cannot perpetuate the unjust and inhumane treatment of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers in Australia who remain stateless"


Writes Sr Catherine McCahill SGS.

Source: The Good Oil.

Australia's Immigration Detention Regime

Australia's Migration Act (1958) Cth requires the detention of 'unlawful non citizens' - otherwise known as people seeking asylum and protection in Australia, fleeing war, human rights violations or persecution in their homeland. The Act does not legislate a time limit for detention periods and holds not special consideration for children. Australia's detention regime is currently in the hands of private companies who run offshore detention centres. Nauru was reopened on 14 August and Manus Island on 21 November 2012. What followed was abuse, humiliation, murder, suicide, death through neglect and profound mental illness. Despite Australia having access to the international recommendations for Detention Guidelines - established by the Unities Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2012) they did not implement them when reopening immigration detention centres. 

Privatised detention 

Despite commitments to bring immigration detention back into public administration, the Gillard government contracted private companies in 2012. Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield) established detention facilities and was responsible for providing ‘garrison and welfare’ services on both Nauru and Manus Island. There were concerns about the treatment of those held within this privatised regime from the outset. The detainees would all be housed in vinyl tents on a small island that regularly gets to over 35 degrees. As the population grew so did reports about the sexual assault of women and abuse of children.

"Wilson Security and Transfield Services [are not] properly accountable to the Commonwealth despite the significant investment in their services. The committee has found that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection does not have full knowledge of incidents occurring in Nauru, owing to their inability to scrutinise their contracted service providers." (p. 125)

Senate Select Committee on the Recent Allegations Relating to the Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru (Senate Select Committee, 2015a)

Campaign for a Royal Commission 

Only a Royal Commission has the power to force private companies to reveal their documents and hear testimonies to make recommendation to government. The Albanese election promise of a transparent and decent government starts with a Royal Commission into Immigration Detention as Australians have a right to know

The Coalition for a Royal Commission into Immigration Detention was established in January 2023. It is made up of organisations, professional groups and individuals. (read more)

"He needs to explain what has occurred here because the people deserve an explanation about these events. This is taxpayers’ money and Mr Dutton has a responsibility to explain what occurred on his watch as home affairs minister with this scandal."

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese referring to corruption allegations against Peter Dutton

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