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Commission Website: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

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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.

Tom Mann



Updated 30 June 2003.