on Notice: Illegal Immigration: Detention is available as a PDF file
Illegal Immigration: Detention
(Question No. 2199)
Irwin asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural
Affairs, upon notice, on 30 November 2000:
(1) How many persons under the age of 18 have been held in
detention centres in 2000.
(2) What has been the average length of stay for persons under
the age of 18 in detention centres.
(3) How many persons under the age of 18 have been held in adult
compounds rather than family quarters.
(4) Have any persons under the age of 18 knowingly been detained
in adult compounds where they do not have a close relative.
(5) On how many occasions have close family groups been separated
in detention centres.
(6) What priority is given to providing family accommodation
to detainees arriving at the (a) Curtin, (b) Darwin and (c) Woomera
(7) Are detention centres subject to State laws.
(8) What procedures are there for detainees or staff at detention
centres to lodge complaints with State Government agencies.
(9) Are detainees routinely prohibited from communicating with
media representatives; if so why.
(10) Are any agencies independent of the Commonwealth Government
permitted to investigate and report on conditions in detention
centres; if so, which agencies.
(11) Have any complaints alleging sexual abuse been made by
detainees at the Villawood Detention Centre; if so, were the
complaints referred to the appropriate NSW authorities.
Ruddock —The answer to the honourable member's question is as
(1) 914 minors have been held in detention centres during 2000
until 14 December.
(2) At 14 December, there were 210 minors in detention. Of these
46% have been in detention for less than three months, 38% have been
in detention for greater than three months but less than twelve
months and 16% have been in detention for greater than twelve
(3) Families are generally accommodated in separate buildings in
most detention centres. At the Villawood centre there are, however,
two separate compounds. Stage 1 and Stage 1.5 are for adult males
only; and families and minors are housed in Stage 2.
(4) Refer to previous answer. Prior to 22 February 2000, a number
of young people (16,17 year olds) have at some time been
accommodated in Stage 1 of Villawood. Since that date, this no
(5) This is not information which is collated by the Department.
There are, however, circumstances where family groups may be
separated. These include where family members may arrive on
different boats and therefore may be accommodated in different
centres. On occasions when the Department has become aware of this,
the Department has moved close family members together in one
centre. Other circumstances include: when a member of a family is
transferred to prison or to another area within the centre as a
result of actions by them which may be a threat to the security of
the centre; or where they are charged with an offence; or where they
are at risk of self harm or of harming other detainees or staff.
(6) There is no detention facility in Darwin. Priority is always
given at Curtin and Woomera, as it
is at all the detention centres, to appropriately house families.
(7) The power to detain is derived from the Migration Act (1958).
It is a requirement of the Immigration Detention Standards, which
form part of the detention contract, that detention facilities are
managed in a manner that is consistent with relevant Commonwealth
and State/Territory laws.
(8) Specific procedures are in place for detainees to make direct
contact with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and
the Commonwealth Ombudsman. There are no specific procedures for
detainees to lodge complaints with State Government agencies.
However, detainees are able to contact whoever they like, including
State Government Agencies, once initial screening has been completed
and they are accommodated with the general detainee population
within their centre. In addition, staff are able to contact State
Government agencies direct and indeed in some cases have mandatory
(9) Detainees are able to contact whoever they like, including
the media, once initial screening has been completed and they are
accommodated with the general detainee population within their
centre. Until this occurs, detainees have limited communication
opportunities outside the centre. This is done in order to preserve
the integrity of the refugee assessment process.
(10) Immigration Detention Centres are subject to external
scrutiny through the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission
and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. In addition, the Joint Standing
Committee on Migration has also visited immigration detention
facilities and recently published a report concerning these centres,
Not the Hilton.
(11) In April 2000, there was an allegation of sexual abuse by a
detainee against another detainee. The matter was referred to NSW
police for investigation.