Skip to main content


DIAC Response to the 2010 Australian Human Rights Commission Report on Immigration Detention in Darwin (2010)

Australian Government: Department of Immigration and Citizenship logo

Response to the 2010 Australian Human Rights Commission

Report on Immigration Detention in Darwin

pdf icon Download in PDF [70 KB]

word icon Download in Word [220 KB]


The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) welcomes the opportunity

to respond to the Australian Human Rights Commission (the AHRC) 2010 Public

Statement on Immigration Detention in Darwin.

DIAC places a high value on the work of the Commission and appreciates the

Commission’s substantial recognition of the hard and consistent efforts of

all those staff supporting the management of clients in Darwin.

The Commission has outlined a number of key issues related to Immigration

Detention in Darwin. DIAC comments in response to these recommendations are

outlined below.

Response to Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Australia’s mandatory detention law should be

repealed. The Migration Act should be amended so that immigration detention

occurs only when necessary. This should be the exception, not the norm. It must

be for a minimal period, be reasonable and be a proportionate means of achieving

at least one of the aims outlined in international law. The limited grounds for

detention should be clearly prescribed in the Migration Act.

People in immigration detention are managed in accordance with the

Government’s Key Immigration Detention Values which ensure fair and humane

treatment, and any claims for asylum are assessed as expeditiously as


The retention of ‘excised offshore places’, the mandatory

immigration detention of all irregular arrivals for the management of health,

identity and security risks to the community, and the continued use of Christmas

Island for the non-statutory Refugee Status Assessment (RSA) processing of

people who arrive at excised offshore places, are matters of government policy.

The government is committed to these policies as essential components of strong

border control, and as important elements in ensuring the integrity of

Australia’s immigration program.

The High Court of Australia has determined that the department’s RSA

and Independent Merit Review (IMR) processes are valid. However, the High Court

has determined that certain aspects of the process were legally flawed and need

to be changed.

All irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) who seek protection are able to seek

judicial review if they receive a negative assessment. The government has also

decided to give a new review to clients who received a negative IMR outcome

prior to the High Court’s decision on 11 November 2010. This includes the

High Court litigant’s clients with a negative IMR assessment that has been

handed down and clients with a negative IMR assessment that is yet to be handed

down. Clients on a voluntary removal pathway will continue to be assisted by the

department and those who have already left Australia will have no further action

taken in regards to their negative IMR assessment. The department will continue

with normal removals planning (that is, general contingency planning for

removals) but will not proceed with obtaining individual travel documents until

the IMR outcome is known, and any related judicial review proceedings are


The government is satisfied that immigration detention is not inconsistent

with Australia’s international obligations under the Refugees Convention

and its Optional Protocols, in particular, Australia's non-refoulement

obligations, and that a fair process is provided for the assessment of asylum

claims. Article 9 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights (ICCPR) states that everyone has the right to liberty and security of

person, and that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

The government understands that the key elements in determining whether

detention is arbitrary are whether the circumstances under which a person is

detained are ‘reasonable’ and ‘necessary’ in all of the

circumstances or otherwise arbitrary in that the detention is inappropriate,

unjust or unpredictable. Detention will not be arbitrary if it is demonstrated

to be proportional to the end that is sought. Both the law under which the

detention is authorised and the manner in which it is carried out or enforced

must meet these criteria. The government is satisfied that the detention is

proportionate to the aim of processing peoples' claims as swiftly and humanely

as possible while also protecting the security and welfare of the Australian

community. Mandatory immigration detention is an exceptional measure primarily

reserved for people who arrive in Australia without authorisation.

Recommendation 2: The Migration Act should be amended to accord with

international law by requiring that a decision to detain a person, or a decision

to continue a person’s detention, is subject to prompt review by a


Article 9 (4) of the ICCPR states that "anyone who is deprived of his liberty

by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in

order that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and

order his release if the detention is not lawful". This is based on the

principle of habeas corpus that people detained must be able to bring

proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. In Australia, every

person who is detained is able to test the lawfulness of his or her detention

before a court. Section 75 (v) of the Australian Constitution provides that the

High Court of Australia has original jurisdiction in relation to every matter

where a writ of mandamus, prohibition or injunction is sought against an officer

of the Commonwealth.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) notes that subsection

494AA(3) of the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) states that

‘nothing in this section is intended to affect the jurisdiction of the

High Court under section 75 of the Constitution’. Clients are therefore

able to seek judicial review of the lawfulness of their immigration detention

under domestic law, pursuant to the High Court’s original


Recommendation 3: Until the above legislative changes are implemented, the

Australian Government should avoid the prolonged detention of asylum seekers by:

  • Ensuring full implementation of its New Directions policy under which

    asylum seekers should only be held in immigration detention while their health,

    identity and security checks are conducted. After this, the presumption should

    be that they will be permitted to reside in the community unless a specific risk

    justifies their ongoing detention.

On 18 October 2010, the Minister announced his intention to use

existing powers under the Migration Act to progressively place significant

numbers of Unaccompanied Minors (UAM’s), vulnerable families and other

vulnerable clients into Residence Determination arrangements. Placement into

community detention will be made by the Minister on a case by case basis.

DIAC is managing the implementation of the expanded Residence Determination

program, and the Minister's Council for Immigration Services and Status

Resolution (CISSR) is working closely with DIAC to support this process. A

project team drawing on relevant expertise across DIAC has been formed to

develop and establish the expanded Residence Determination arrangements.

The expanded Residence Determination program will be rolled out progressively

between now and 30 June 2011. The Australian Red Cross is the lead agency for

the implementation of the expanded arrangements and will draw on the expertise

of a wide range of experienced service providers and contributing organisations.

Services can include sourcing of accommodation, case worker support and 24 hour

carer support to UAM’s, among others. Immediate housing options have been

identified and are being assessed for the first group of placements. Further

housing is being sourced and will be staged to come on line from January through

to June 2011.

  • Ensuring that security clearances are conducted as quickly as


The foundation of Australia’s layered approach to border

security includes the universal visa system which enables the Department of

Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and other agencies to conduct pre-arrival

checks of visa applicants and prevent the entry of those who may pose a

security, criminal or health risk to the community. The vast majority of

IMA’s come to Australia undocumented and, in line with the

Government’s immigration detention values, are held in immigration

detention pending completion of health, identity and security checks.

An external agency is responsible for the furnishing to Commonwealth agencies

of security assessments relevant to their functions and responsibilities.

Security assessments undertaken by the external agency are treated individually

and undertaken on a case-by-case basis. As such, there is no single or

definitive timeframe within which each check is completed. Some cases are able

to be finalised within a short timeframe; but others, because of the specific

circumstances of the case, can take much longer.

DIAC regularly liaises with the external agency on caseload issues, and

escalates individual cases of concern for priority assessment, such as

UAM’s, families with young children, and clients with mental health

concerns or other compassionate and compelling circumstances. DIAC also seeks

from the external agency, updates on the progress of individual cases.

Recommendation 4: The Australian Government should implement the

outstanding recommendations of the report of the National Inquiry into Children

in Immigration Detention, A last resort? These include that

Australia’s immigration detention laws should be amended, as a matter of

urgency, to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In

particular, the new laws should incorporate the following minimum features:

  • There should be a presumption against the detention of children for

    immigration purposes.

  • A court or independent tribunal should assess whether there is a need to

    detain children for immigration purposes within 72 hours of any initial

    detention (for example, for the purposes of health, identity or security


  • There should be prompt and periodic review by a court of the legality of

    continuing detention of children for immigration purposes.

  • All courts and independent tribunals should be guided by the following


    • detention of children must be a measure of last resort and for

      the shortest appropriate period of time

    • the best interests of children must be a primary


    • the preservation of family unity
    • special protection and assistance for unaccompanied


The government takes its international obligations

seriously and acts consistently to comply with all of its treaty obligations,

including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC).

Minors and their accompanying families are accommodated at low-security

sites, such as immigration transit accommodation (ITA) and immigration

residential housing (IRH), or other alternative places of detention (APOD),

which includes commercial accommodation such as motels, including Darwin Airport

Lodge and Asti Motel.

UAM’s are subject to the same accommodation arrangements as other

children, but are supported by appropriate foster carers and are held in an APOD

while health, security and identity checks are completed. They may then be

considered for a community placement if accommodation is available.

Section 4AA of the Migration Act currently states:

"(1) The Parliament affirms as a principle that a minor shall only be

detained as a measure of last resort.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the reference to a minor being

detained does not include a reference to a minor residing at a place in

accordance with a residence determination".

While section 4AA affirms the principle that children should only be detained

as a last resort, the principle does not limit the location and nature of any

such detention. The announcement of the Government’s Key Immigration

Detention Values formalised arrangements already in place operationally within

DIAC, noting that minors will not be detained in an immigration detention centre


DIAC maintains that Key Immigration Detention Value 3, which provides that

‘children, including juvenile foreign fishers and, where possible, their

families, will not be detained in an immigration detention centre’,

broadly reflects our international obligations under Article 3(1) and Article 37

of the CROC. Although children fall under the broad mandatory detention

framework, they are treated considerably differently than adults. Furthermore,

detention currently is not, and will not, be for minors at an IDC under Key

Immigration Detention Value 3.

Facilities at the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel are designed to ensure

that children’s human rights are protected. The processing of asylum

claims by children is accorded the highest priority to ensure compliance with

our Article 37(b) obligations under the CROC and that children remain in

facilities for the ‘shortest appropriate period of time’.

DIAC maintains that children in the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel have

considerable liberties, and are free to attend school, outings and other

organised activities in order to best permit them to live as unrestricted as

possible while their claims (and those of their families) are assessed.

Policy documents relating to the treatment of children in detention are


‘Children can be a vulnerable group of clients, particularly in the

context of compliance operations and immigration detention. The case management

of children presents particular challenges and requires special consideration of

the child’s individual and family circumstances. Although a child will not

be detained in an IDC, it is possible that a child may be subject to other

detention arrangements such as community detention or immigration residential

housing. If a child has been detained, whether or not this is with a parent or

guardian, the child will be actively case managed. The only exceptions might be

children who have been detained with their families and are on a rapid removal

pathway or juvenile foreign


The Department acknowledges the AHRC’s concerns regarding assessments

on the need to detain children and undertaking periodic reviews. As previously

noted in the response to Recommendation 3, the Minister for Immigration and

Citizenship announced the intention to use existing powers under the Migration

Act to progressively place significant numbers of UAM’s, vulnerable

families and other vulnerable clients in residence determination arrangements.

Given this announcement the need for assessments and periodic reviews on

children in detention should not be necessary.

This move is in recognition of the increasing numbers of families with

children and UAM’s in immigration detention and the lengthening period of

time which some may have been detained during processing of their claims or

finalisation of their cases.

The residence determination arrangements will be rolled out progressively in

partnership with community organisations over the coming months and should go a

large way to providing suitable longer term accommodation for this group of


A reference group has been formed involving key CISSR representatives, DIAC

officers and other external members, including a representative from the

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Recommendation 5: DIAC should ensure that relevant DIAC officers and staff

members of detention service providers are provided with information and

training on:

  • the requirements and procedures for making child welfare and protection

    notifications in relation to concerns that arise in respect of children in

    immigration detention in Darwin

  • which DIAC officer or officers have been delegated the Minister’s

    powers of legal guardianship of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in

    immigration detention in Darwin, and in which situations the guardian should be


DIAC and Detention Service Provider (DSP) officers have been

provided with the Northern Territory (NT) toll free number to report any

incidents involving child welfare and protection notifications. Arrangements are

being made for the NT Department of Families and Children Services to deliver

on-site training on mandatory reporting requirements for DIAC and DSP staff.

DIAC, DSP and Life Without Barriers (LWB) officers are aware of the DIAC

officers delegated by the Minister with legal guardianship of unaccompanied

minor asylum seekers in immigration detention in Darwin. Protocols on

notification to the legal guardian and circumstances in which this is to occur

are being developed and are anticipated to be completed by the end of January


Work is also being undertaken to put protocols in place to ensure that all

UAMs are aware of the guardianship arrangements that are in place for them while

they are in immigration detention. This is being done in conjunction with Serco

and LWB and is anticipated to be completed by the end of January 2011.

Independent Observers from LWB are available to support UAM’s and

attend interviews and other appointments with them. Necessary arrangements are

in place to ensure that LWB Independent Observers are always present for

interviews and other processes involving UAM’s.

Recommendation 6: The Australian Government should, as a matter of

priority, implement the recommendations made by the Commission in A last

resort? that:

  • Australia’s laws should be amended so that the Minister for

    Immigration is no longer the legal guardian of unaccompanied children in

    immigration detention.

  • An independent guardian should be appointed for unaccompanied children in

    immigration detention and they should receive appropriate support.

The Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 (IGOC

Act) provides that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is the guardian

of unaccompanied non-citizen children who arrive in Australia with the intention

of becoming permanent residents. The Australian government recognises that the

IGOC Act is outdated and not designed for the purpose for which it is now used.

The department recognises the concerns which have been raised about the

potential for a perceived conflict of interest between the Minister's role as

guardian under the IGOC Act and as the decision-maker under the Migration Act

1958. The department is currently reviewing whether the current

guardianship arrangements are appropriate and whether the IGOC Act can be used

in a more effective way to further the best interests of children potentially

within its scope.

The department ensures appropriate support for UAM’s by engaging LWB to

provide an Independent Observer to attend interviews and meetings between

UAM’s and the department and/or other agencies. The Independent Observer

provides a support role for the minor to support them during the interview

process, including providing them with moral support, ensuring that appropriate

food and toilet breaks are provided, and ensuring the minor is given the

opportunity to ask questions and has their questions answered. LWB provide a

24-hour on call support service.

For UAM’s who have been found to be refugees (known as unaccompanied

humanitarian minors), the department, working with state governments or service

providers, organises suitable accommodation and appropriate care arrangements.

Services provided to unaccompanied humanitarian minors include: monitoring of

care arrangements by a case worker, assistance with clothing, food, housing and

educational requirements. Services for unaccompanied humanitarian minors are

provided by the relevant State Child Welfare Agency or, where this is not

possible, by a not-for-profit service provider.

Recommendation 7: DIAC should ensure that people in immigration detention

in Darwin are provided with timely access to appropriate health and mental

health services. In particular, DIAC should enhance clinical governance of the

mental health service by ensuring that a psychiatrist is available to provide

clinical guidance and supervision of the clinical decision making of mental

health staff.

The provision of all health care services to people in immigration detention

at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC), Darwin Airport Lodge APOD,

and the Darwin Asti Motel APOD is managed by a Regional Health Services Manager

(RHSM) who is a qualified Registered Nurse with appropriate experience in

managing the provision of health services in regional areas. The RHSM, who is

based at NIDC, works with the International Health and Medical Services (IHMS)

Medical Director, Medical Services Operations Manager and the Psychological

Services Manager to monitor and ensure the provision of both primary health care

and mental health care to clients in Immigration. The RHSM provides a

consultancy role to all Network Health care providers within his/her Region and

oversees the after-hours Triage and Advice line that is available to DIAC case

managers and Serco.

The health care model implemented by the Detention Health Services Provider

at all centres relies on the RHSM to coordinate services, freeing up GPs and

specialists such as Psychiatrists to focus on patient care. The RHSM has the

clinical knowledge, skills and experience to be able to recognise when issues

need to be escalated or referred to specialists, and is able to provide those

external specialists with information so that they can make an informed clinical

decision that is in the best interests of their patient.

Two different processes are operating for clients to access medical services

in immigration detention facilities in Darwin; one at the NIDC and the other at

the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel.

At the NIDC, clients need to complete a Medical Access Request Form and place

it in an IHMS post-box which is located in each compound. The request forms are

collected each morning and triaged by a Registered Nurse who schedules

appointments based on the severity of the client's described condition. Clients

with serious or urgent symptoms such as chest pain will be seen on the same day.

Clients with less urgent symptoms may be scheduled up to two days later.

Clients are escorted by DIAC or DSP staff to either of the two medical clinics

at NIDC (one at the North compound and one at the South compound). Clients who

would like to see the Mental Health Team are not required to make an appointment

if they require support.

IHMS has confirmed that all initial triage nurse appointments are scheduled

to occur within 72 hours of IHMS receiving a request form. Clients are advised

of their appointment via a list which is displayed in each compound the evening

before the scheduled clinic. If a client misses their appointment, up to two

more appointments are scheduled for them before IHMS require the submission of

another Medical Access Request Form.

The medical access request process, including the need for clients to check

the appointment schedule daily, is explained at client induction. IHMS also

attends Client Consultative meetings in order to remind clients about the


IHMS are unaware of any cases of clients being forced to wait six to seven

days for initial medical attention due to over-booked schedules, although where

clients miss their initial appointment, or where request forms are not submitted

directly to IHMS post-boxes (eg. handed to a DSP officer), they may have to wait

longer than 72 hours before the initial medical assessment. In addition,

previously scheduled appointments may be delayed when medical personnel are

called away to respond to emergency medical situations, these may take

precedence over previously scheduled appointments. IHMS report that such

instances are rare at NIDC.

It should also be reiterated that, clients are expected to check the

appointment schedule, attend requested appointment times, and inform IHMS if

they no longer require an appointment. The DSP is not responsible to collect or

remind the clients of their appointment.

At the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel, medical and mental health clinics

operate five days a week, using a Triage arrangement to allocate priority to

clients. Clients can also make appointments, and are generally seen within 72

hours. Urgent client needs are given priority. IHMS is currently developing a

proposal to implement in the new year a weekend clinic at the Darwin Airport

Lodge and the Asti Motel. ,

Outside of clinic hours, there is also a 24 hour Triage and Advice line,

which DIAC or a DSP can call should any emergency situation or unexpected injury

occur. They will then be given advice as to whether or not the client needs

transfer to an emergency service provider.

Recommendation 8: DIAC should ensure that all people in immigration

detention in Darwin have access to:

  • appropriate indoor and outdoor recreational spaces including open grassy

    areas and, where applicable, play areas that are safe and appropriate for young


Amenity improvements since the AHRC visit to the NIDC have

continued and now include the addition of flower beds for the use of clients.

There is also a substantial infrastructure program being undertaken that will

significantly increase indoor and outdoor amenities at the NIDC. All works at

NIDC will be completed progressively between October 2010 and June 2011.

Included in the infrastructure program is a broad range of improvements to

the centre including additional classrooms, improved internet access, new soccer

fields, volleyball and basketball courts and a synthetic walking/fitness track.

New fitness equipment has already been installed at all compounds. Improvements

will be made to all existing cabanas, including a new recreation building on the

edge of the new soccer field in North compound and general improvements to the

landscaping around the centre including the addition of vegetable gardens for

the use of clients. The infrastructure program includes a proposal to improve

amenities for minors accommodated in Berrimah House, adjacent to the IDC.

Clients detained at Berrimah House have their own activity program that

includes indoor and outdoor activities. Clients at Berrimah House are taken on

regular excursions to the swimming pool, bowling, churches and mosques, and

other various outdoor activities, and can participate in IDC activities and use

the IDC facilities.

Since the AHRC visit, the owner of the Darwin Airport Lodge has installed a

shade cover over the play equipment. Other recent works at the Darwin Airport

Lodge include an educational block which comprises of a computer room,

classroom, library, and activity rooms. It is also proposed that additional

recreational areas be made available including gym equipment, BBQs, outdoor

seating, basketball hoops, and mobile play equipment for children.

The department notes the AHRC’s concerns regarding the use of the Asti

Motel. The department considers the Asti Motel as a short term detention site

and as soon as additional capacity can be developed elsewhere all clients at the

Asti Motel will be moved as a priority.

In the meantime, clients at the Asti Motel have access to the motel swimming

pool and other indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. As an alternative to

on-site grassed areas, regular sporting and recreation excursions are provided

for clients at the Asti Motel, as well as a variety of on-site activities.

In addition to the above improvements at the Darwin Airport Lodge and the

Asti Motel, six new sewing machines were recently distributed between the Darwin

APODs for the use of clients.

The Botanic Gardens Apartments APOD is used as short term accommodation only.

There are outdoor shaded areas for client use at the Botanic Gardens Apartments

APOD, and activities and excursions are arranged for clients on a case-by-case


During the school term, all school aged children have access to indoor and

outdoor activities as part of their education program.

  • an adequate supply of reading materials in the principal languages spoken

    by detainees

All NT detention facilities have a collection of resources in

various languages. Clients are also able to access reading materials through any

of the internet computers that are available to them.

A mobile library service is currently provided at the NIDC and further

enhancements at the site will include a permanent library for clients to access

reading materials.

The recent expansion of amenities at the Darwin Airport Lodge included a

library and the Asti Motel has a collection of reading materials available for

clients to access and borrow.

  • sufficient communication facilities, in particular telephones and

    internet terminals

Clients in immigration detention in Darwin are given access to a

variety of telecommunication equipment including fixed land line telephones and

internet terminals. There is no restriction on the amount of calls a client can

make when in immigration detention in Darwin, other than the need to extend

courtesy to other clients who might be wishing to make a call themselves.

Since the AHRC visit to the NIDC, an additional 10 new client phones were

installed. There are now 19 client phones available throughout the centre.

Usage of the telecommunication equipment will continue to be monitored and

facilities will be expanded if clients have difficulties accessing services.

Computer access at the NIDC is to be improved as part of the broader works

currently being undertaken. Serco have been authorised to purchase desks and

chairs to enable installation of a further 28 computers, this will effectively

double the capacity. Additional computers are anticipated to be in place by

April 2011.

As at 25 November 2010 there were a total of:

  • 19 dedicated phone lines and 21 internet terminals at the NIDC
  • 8 dedicated phone lines and 8 internet terminals at the Darwin Airport


  • At the Asti Motel every client has a phone in their room and there are 6

    internet terminals

  • 1 dedicated phone line and 2 internet terminals at Berrimah House
  • regular external excursions

A regular program of excursions is in place for clients

in the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel. This includes visits to a local

bowling alley, recreational excursions and sporting activities such as soccer

and dance classes.

Excursions are regularly arranged for clients at the

NIDC. This includes religious excursions to local churches and mosques and bus

tours of Darwin. An expansion of the excursion program is currently being

planned and is anticipated to be in place by March 2011.

In addition to

the external excursions, a range of activities are in place in the NIDC.

Activities on-site include courses in Australian history, social development,

sewing, cooking classes, trivia, movie nights, bingo, music classes, arts and

crafts, yoga, gym and cardio training, billiards and other organised sporting


In addition, Serco have commenced gardening projects where

clients are involved in the production of vegetables as well as flower beds.

Fortnightly BBQs are also held in the NIDC where separate compounds mix, clients

cook for themselves and activities are arranged.

  • regular religious services conducted by qualified religious


A range of religious services are provided to clients within the

detention environment. The DSP has a Religious Liaison Officer (RLO) who is

responsible for the coordination of religious and cultural services for all

clients in immigration detention. Celebration of religious events such as Eid is

organised on-site by the RLO in conjunction with DIAC and LWB.

The main compounds within the NIDC have Muslim prayer rooms with a purpose

built washing facility to prepare for prayers; and multi faith prayer rooms. The

Darwin Airport Lodge and the Asti Motel have multi purpose rooms that are used

as prayer rooms. Clients are provided with a range of religious items including

Koran, prayer mats, songkoks, and Bibles.

Weekly excursions are now in place for clients from the NIDC to attend the

mosque. In consultation with the NT Islamic Society, a maximum of 50 clients are

able to attend each week. Clients are put on a weekly rotating roster of who is

able to attend the mosque.

Religious excursions are also in place for clients from the Darwin Airport

Lodge and the Asti Motel to attend the mosque, church services and the Hindu

Temple on a weekly basis.

The local Imam visits clients at the NIDC, Darwin Airport Lodge and the Asti

Motel three times a week to meet with clients and to provide pastoral care and


The NT Islamic Society and the department are currently discussing further

services that may assist clients in detention such as Islamic education and

personal development classes over the school holidays.

Recommendation 9: The Australian Government should ensure that all

school-aged children in immigration detention in Darwin and elsewhere are

provided with access to educational opportunities of a standard and quality

equivalent to that in Australian schools. Wherever possible, this should take

place outside the detention environment by facilitating access to the Australian

school system.

On 7 September 2010, a Memorandum Of Understanding between DIAC and the NT

Department of Education and Training was signed. The department and its DSP has

worked closely with local schools to ensure school-aged children have access to

schooling that is appropriate to their age, level of maturity and cultural and

linguistic backgrounds.

The department’s policy is that all school-aged children, aged 5-15

have access to education in public schools. This is in line with the ‘Best

Interests of the Child’ guidelines from the United Nations High

Commissioner for Refugees Charter on the Rights of Children and the relevant

state legislation on education.

Older children, aged 17, and young adults attend English language lessons and

special life-skills classes.

A school holiday program is being organised for all minors - aged 5-15 and

16-17. The program will run over the period of 13 December 2010 to 21 January


The department is also exploring options for formal offsite activities for

those aged 0-4, as well as schooling for those aged 16-17.

Playgroup sessions are held at the APODs twice weekly for young children aged

0-4 with their parents. In addition, early childhood experts from Charles

Darwin University visited families at the Darwin Airport Lodge and Asti Motel to

specifically work with children aged 0-4 and their parents.

Soft toys, puzzles and games are available for children.

Recommendation 10: The Australian Government should stop using the Asti

Motel in Darwin as an ‘alternative place of detention’ as soon as


The Asti Motel in Darwin is viewed as a short-term APOD arrangement. When

additional capacity is developed and constructed, clients at the Asti Motel will

be moved as a priority.

On 18 October 2010, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and

Citizenship announced the establishment of new detention accommodation on

mainland Australia to relieve the strain on the detention network. Inverbrackie

in South Australia, located approximately 37km east of Adelaide, will be used to

accommodate up to 400 family members.

In response to the limitations of the Asti Motel, there has been an increase

in excursions for clients. This has included bus tours, beach walks, outdoor and

indoor soccer, bowling and dance classes. Clients also participate in off-site

visits to religious sites, such as the mosque, Hindu temple and churches.

Clients are also able to engage in some sporting activities at the rear of the

Asti Motel.

[1] Migration > 21/8/2010 - >

P. 21/8/2010 - > PAM3 - MIGRATION ACT > Compliance instructions >

Compliance, case management & detention > Treatment of children - Guiding