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Submission to the National Inquiry
into Children in Immigration Detention from
Mann: Supplementary Submission
To clarify a statement relating to
whether there was a teacher shortage, or it was more a facilities issue, at
Woomera detention centre:
We needed more classrooms to run
the classes so as to provide adequate contact time for both children and adults.
To compensate for the lack of classrooms we used the messes and at times recreational
rooms in the compounds. This didn’t provide nearly enough teaching venues
and was really inappropriate as a teaching environment. Over the whole centre
the total number of allocated classrooms (apart from the computer centres) in
five compounds was five (three in the main compound, one in November compound,
one in Mike compound and none in India and Oscar compounds). Each classroom
catered for about 25 children or adults in any given session which meant that
the contact time was severely reduced for more than 500 detainees. We needed
at least 15 classrooms for the centre overall to facilitate an effective teaching
With respect to the number of teachers,
ACM imposed a series of bandwidths, based on the number of detainees, for the
appointment of a certain number of teachers. We needed three times the number
of teachers but we would not have been able to use them effectively without
increasing the number of classrooms, as explained before. We could have used
more detainee assistant teachers if there were no additional teachers appointed
by ACM (and if there more classrooms) but there were too many difficulties with
this approach as well.
Overall, we were hamstrung in our
teaching efforts, because of these factors. The teaching, in the end, was only
going to be a token response to the educational needs of both adults and children,
but particularly children.
If more classrooms and teachers were
forthcoming then we still faced the problem for long-term detainees of a debilitating
and antagonistic detention environment which crippled the detainees emotionally.
Updated 30 June 2003.