I am concerned by the actions of some protestors at immigration detention facilities and the subsequent impact on detainees, my officers and staff, and the general public.
I respect people’s right to express their views through peaceful assembly, however current Commonwealth health advice is to avoid mass gatherings and maintain social distancing.
The ABF has successfully prevented any cases of COVID-19 among detainees by implementing a range of essential measures. People gathering in large numbers outside detention facilities, interfering with deliveries and encouraging detainees to breach social distancing requirements puts detainees and staff at risk.
The activity at a number of facilities in recent days also impacted the ABF’s ability to properly care for detainees. Access to essential medical appointments and the delivery of meals were impacted due to the protest activity.
Detainees continue to have access to their family, friends, legal representatives, consulates and embassies and scrutiny bodies through telephone, text, skype and other audio visual tools.
Claims that detainees are being “punished” or moved because they have spoken to advocates or the media are incorrect. Detainees are routinely moved for a range of reasons, including health, welfare or to ensure the safety of other detainees, staff and the public.
The individuals residing in the alternative places of detention in Brisbane and Melbourne were brought to Australia temporarily for medical treatment. They are encouraged to finalise their medical treatment so they can continue on their resettlement pathway to the United States, return to Nauru or PNG or return to their home country.
In line with Australian Government policy, no one under regional processing arrangements will be resettled in Australia.
Michael Outram APM
Australian Border Force