A COVID out break inside immigration detention centres was a disaster waiting to happen. The Australian Government and Border Force cannot claim they had not been warned, nor that they had insufficient time to respond.
Civil rights organisations, including the NSWCCL have, for months, been bringing our concerns to the Minister and his Department, however our representations fell on deaf ears.
As well as ignoring the community, the recommendations of the Government’s own Human Rights Commission have also been ignored.
The immediate response of Border Force must be to provide for the present health needs of the infected men and to ensure that Covid does not spread to any other detainees.
They must then implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission, especially:
- Recommendation 8: The Department of Home Affairs and relevant Ministers should take steps to release people at risk of health complications from COVID-19 into community-based alternatives to closed detention unless an individual assessment identifies security risks that could not be managed in the community. Where the release of an individual is not possible, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force should offer the individual placement in a single bedroom with private bathroom facilities.
- Recommendation 13: As a matter of urgency, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force should cease the use of high-care accommodation units for quarantine purposes and use alternative, less restrictive options for quarantine.
- Recommendation 19: The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force should decommission the use of semi-permanent hotel APODs for ongoing periods of closed detention and ensure that hotels are only used as APODs in exceptional circumstances and for very short periods.
Some of our ignored warnings: