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Submission to the National Inquiry
into Children in Immigration Detention from
Mann: Supplementary Submission
In regard to the payment of $1 an hour. It's true there was
no actual payment in cash terms but the equivalent rate of one point to one
dollar allowed the detainees to purchase goods according to the number of points
they had gained. I think it is a mere technicality and that, argued in a court
of law, they were being paid for their assistance. The perception anyway from
the detainees and ourselves was that they were being paid at the rate of $1
an hour. In one case that I know, a detainee teacher bought more than his points
value in dollar terms. In his account he had some of his own money. The equivalent
in dollars from his work was credited to his account and the balance adjusted
to take into account the extra payment required.
With regard to the other points on the provision of education services. It was
not possible to provide the type of educational services outlined by the Immigration
Detention Standards (IDS). The lack of classrooms, the limited number of teachers
and the hostile environment for teaching were the main factors along with other
constraints like classroom size and conflict with the DIMIA method of processing.
During my eight months at Woomera, as far as I know, IDS made no attempt to
contact any of the teachers to discover for themselves the constraints we experienced.
We made numerous overtures to the programs manager and the centre manager and
through monthly reports about the shortage of teachers and classrooms (all to
no avail). In one case I was asked to reply to a series of questions by a Member
of Parliament concerning the teaching at Woomera. In my reply I again pointed
out the need for extra classrooms and teachers. If these documents are needed
I can pass them on. We had the possibility of teaching at the Catholic primary
school but that was denied to us at that time. Overall, we had to improvise
to the best of our ability - like teaching in the mess on many occasions which
was not satisfactory. When the new compounds, Mike and November, were opened
for new arrivals there were no chairs or desks or whiteboards - basic necessities
for teaching. The detainees carried chairs from the mess and returned them later.
We used butchers paper until the whiteboards arrived after one month of waiting.
In two of the compounds, India and Oscar, there were no educational rooms provided
but we made do with recreational rooms. In all, I believe we did the best under
a very difficult environment for teaching. For myself, I started the day at
the centre at 7 a.m. to prepare material for the assistant teachers and to complete
the daily stats for the previous day, finished the day at 6 p.m. and then there
was evening work.
11 July 2002
Updated 30 June 2003.