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A last resort? - Summary Guide: How was the Inquiry conducted?

A Last Resort? - SUMMARY GUIDE. A Summary of the important issues, findings and recommendations of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

A last resort?

National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

How was the Inquiry conducted?


The Inquiry received 346 submissions, including 64 confidential

submissions. Detailed information was provided by organisations representing

detainees, human rights and legal bodies, members of the public, religious

bodies, state government agencies and a range of non-government policy

and service-providing organisations.

Visits to immigration detention centres

Inquiry staff visited all immigration detention facilities

in Australia between January 2002 and December 2002, including three visits

to Woomera. During each visit, Inquiry staff conducted a tour of the facility,

spoke with detention centre staff and interviewed all families and children

who wished to talk about their experiences. The Inquiry conducted a total

of 112 interviews with children and their parents, on the understanding

that their identity would be protected.

Focus groups

During 2002, the Inquiry held 29 focus groups with over 200

children, parents and other former detainees now living in Sydney, Melbourne,

Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane on temporary protection visas. These focus

groups were also conducted on the understanding that the identity of the

participants would be protected in order to allow them to talk freely

about their experiences.

Public hearings

Between May and August 2002, the Inquiry held public hearings

in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane to allow members of

the community, state government agencies, non-government organisations

and former ACM staff, amongst others, to provide further information to

the Inquiry. The Inquiry held 61 public sessions (105 witnesses) and 24

confidential sessions (50 witnesses). Nine of the witnesses in confidential

hearings (seven sessions) later agreed to make their evidence public.

Evidence from the Department and ACM

The Inquiry received a series of documents from the Department

and ACM throughout 2002 in response to requests and legal 'Notices to

Produce' issued by the Inquiry. The Department also provided a written

submission in May 2002.

In December 2002, the Inquiry heard oral evidence from the

Department and ACM on various issues, including:

  • how unaccompanied children are cared for in detention
  • how families with deteriorating mental health are assessed

    and helped in detention centres

  • the provision of education in detention facilities
  • the provision of services to families with disabilities
  • how compliance with human rights standards is monitored

    in detention centres.

After these hearings, the Inquiry wrote a draft report containing

initial factual findings and a preliminary view as to whether there were

breaches of children's rights. In accordance with the principles of natural

justice, a copy of the draft report was provided to the Department and

ACM, allowing them to respond to the Inquiry's findings and to provide

further evidence and submissions. ACM requested the opportunity to make

oral submissions and these were heard in September 2003.

A second draft was provided to both the Department and ACM

for further comment. After the Inquiry received their second round of

responses, the final report was completed. The Department and ACM were

given a final opportunity to inform the Inquiry about what actions they

were taking in response to the final findings and recommendations.