Report on the
Human Rights Commissioner's Visit to Curtin IRPC in July 2000
Saturday 29 July 2000 the then Human Rights Commissioner, Mr Chris Sidoti,
assisted by a consultant, Dr Mary Crock, Senior Lecturer in Law at Sydney
University, visited the Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing Centre
outside Derby in the Kimberley region of WA. They made observations and
obtained information about accommodation, programs and services, and particulars
about the conditions and treatment of detainees. This report documents
Commissioner Sidoti's observations and the information he obtained with
Dr Crock's assistance.
the Commissioner's 1998-99 detailed review of the four then-existing centres,
the Commissioner's objective at Curtin was to see the facilities for himself
and to signal to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
the Commission's continuing interest in conditions and treatment. It was
a spot-check and not a detailed investigation.
Curtin the Commissioner interviewed, in private, a group of six detainees
(the detainees' consultative committee whose members are selected by ACM
management) but the time available did not permit him to interview other
detainees at the centre. He was also briefed in detail by the DIMA Manager,
Mr Greg Wallace, and the ACM Manager, Mr Grant Chapman. The Commissioner
also toured the centre to inspect the sleeping, bathroom, recreation,
education and dining facilities and spoke briefly with some members of
staff. Ms Phillipa Godwin, First Assistant Secretary in DIMA's Border
Control and Compliance Division accompanied Commissioner Sidoti and Dr
late July Commissioner Sidoti and Dr Crock received information from former
Curtin detainees and former ACM employees at Curtin IRPC, which is also
included in this report.
report describes and comments upon the information obtained and the facilities
observed. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has
been provided with an opportunity to comment on the report and submitted
a response on
15 December 2000.
addition, during his visit to WA the Commissioner received specific allegations
he considered should be dealt with as complaints. These matters were referred
to the Commission's Complaint Handling Section. The Commission treats
complaints confidentially during investigations and conciliations and
therefore the information provided by complainants is not included in
its inspections of immigration detention centres, the Commission compares
the treatment and conditions observed with international minimum human
rights standards. These standards have been summarised and collated for
Australian IDC conditions in the Commission's Immigration
Detention Guidelines (March 2000) .
Facilities, Conditions and Treatment at Curtin
Information for Detainees
Legal Assistance and Advice
Other Outside Contacts
Children in Detention
Security and Discipline
Complaints and Consultation Arrangements
Physical and Mental Health
Recreation and Work
Religion and Culture
Commission has a long-standing interest in the issue of the mandatory
detention of unauthorised arrivals in Australia - that is, people who
arrive without valid travel documents. Following the release of the May
1998 report Those
who've come across the seas: detention of unauthorised arrivals, the
Commission has published two further reports. The first - Immigration
Detention: Human Rights Commissioner's 1998-99 Review - surveyed the
major immigration detention centres following their privatisation. The
second dealt with a specific complaint of treatment in the detention centre
in Perth (HRC
Report No 10: Report of an Inquiry into a Complaint of Acts or Practices
Inconsistent with or Contrary to Human Rights in an Immigration Detention
Centre, June 2000).
Commission maintains the view expressed in its 1998 report that the laws
and policies mandating the detention of all but a small minority of unauthorised
arrivals contravenes Australia's obligations under the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
However, while that policy is retained, the Commission continues to monitor
and report on the treatment of detainees and the conditions of their detention
both by receiving, investigating and attempting to conciliate individual
complaints and by making regular inspection visits to all centres.
human rights of asylum seekers held in detention are recognised at international
law in a number of treaties. Most importantly, ICCPR article 7 provides
that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment." Article 10 stipulates: "All persons deprived
of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the
inherent dignity of the human person."
Detention Centres must ensure that detainees are treated in such a way
as to satisfy international standards. The responsibility of ensuring
compliance with these standards lies with the Australian Government through
the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA).
March 2000 the Commission published its Immigration
Detention Guidelines which collate relevant international minimum
standards and set out the minimum requirements that have to be met for
Australia to be acting in accordance with its international human rights
obligations. Throughout this report, reference to section numbers is to
the principles outlined in the Guidelines.
1999 the influx of boat people from the Middle East
led to the re-commissioning of a facility at Curtin Airbase near Derby
in Western Australia (September 1999) and the commissioning of a new detention
centre at Woomera in South Australia (November 1999). Both centres are
managed and operated by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), the
same operator/provider responsible for the other immigration detention
centres at Port Hedland and Perth in WA, Villawood in Sydney and Maribyrnong
in Melbourne. ACM is contracted by DIMA, the responsible Commonwealth
department, which remains ultimately responsible for any violations of
detainees' human rights.
the date of the Commission's visit in late July 2000 the physical conditions
at the Curtin IRPC were of an acceptable standard in many of the areas
identified. However, some aspects of the operation of the centre were
points of note are:
many improvements to the comfort, utility and aesthetics of the centre
comparative to the conditions around the time of re-commissioning in
employment of detainees in the preparation of culturally appropriate
efforts made by ACM managers and staff to build links with the community
in Derby in the interests of the detainees
institution of outings for children to play volleyball in Derby
moves being made to secure two computers as part of the education and
training offered to detainees although these had not yet arrived at
the time of the Commission's visit
existence of a detainee/ACM consultative committee
access to phone lines to facilitate access to lawyers, advisers and
families outside the centre.
Commission notes the logistical and other difficulties associated with
setting up new facilities to cope with the sudden influx of detainees
that occurred in 1999. Nevertheless, substantial problems persist that
cannot be explained solely by pressures of time and numbers, in particular:
continued refusal to advise new arrivals of their right to request legal
assistance (Immigration Detention Guidelines section 2.1).
alleged failure to provide legal assistance upon request to some individuals
who have been 'screened in' to the asylum application process (Guidelines
inappropriateness of the detention environment for children.
practice of referring to detainees predominantly by number rather than
by their given or proper names.
inadequacy of clothing and bedding provided to detainees (Guidelines
sections 9.1, 9.5 and 9.6).
inadequacy of phone lines and of access for lawyers and others needing
to contact detainees (Guidelines sections 3.6 and 4.1).
about access to health services, with particular concerns expressed
about the availability of dental and ophthalmology services (Guidelines
FACILITIES, CONDITIONS AND TREATMENT AT CURTIN
Information for Detainees
should receive information, in a language and format they can understand,
about the reasons for their detention and their rights and obligations
in detention. This should be provided as soon as possible upon their reception
into detention (Guidelines section 2.1). Detainees' rights include
the right to request legal assistance and to complain to the Commonwealth
Ombudsman and the Commission. They must, therefore, be advised promptly
of these rights (Guidelines section 2.2).
13 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under
Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states: "Any person shall, at
the moment of arrest and at the commencement of detention or imprisonment,
or promptly thereafter, be provided by the authority responsible for his
arrest, detention or imprisonment, respectively with information on and
an explanation of his rights and how to avail himself of such rights".
at Curtin IRPC
detainees' consultative committee commented on the improvements that had
been made at the centre and asked that the Commission record their appreciation
to DIMA and ACM. The one area of common complaint related to the provision
of information. All agreed that the length of time taken to process their
claims created pressures and that few people in the camp understood what
was happening. One detainee stated, "We don't know why people are being
accepted or rejected. We would like to know why. They are keeping us in
the dark (so that) we don't know our destiny". He complained that one
detainee had been detained for 10 months and had then been rejected and
that there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to who was accepted and
who was rejected.
should engage in more effective dialogue with the detainees so as to inform
them of the processes involved in determining refugee claims in Australia.
The detainees are effective networkers within the centre. Where communication
with the management is inadequate, there would appear to be a real and
foreseeable danger of shared and repeated misunderstandings occurring
within the detainee population.
Assistance and Advice
combination Principles 17, 18 and 32 of the Body of Principles for
the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
specify that the following requirements should be met in relation to the
legal assistance available to detainees.
are to be informed of their right to legal assistance promptly after
being taken into detention.
are to be given adequate time and facilities for consultation with
their legal counsel.
are to be allowed to communicate with their legal counsel in full
confidentiality, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
a detainee does not have sufficient means to afford legal assistance,
he or she is entitled to be assigned legal assistance when the interests
of justice so require.
between detainees and their legal counsel are to be inadmissible as
evidence unless they are connected with a continuing or completed
at Curtin IRPC
to the DIMA Manager, of the 830 detainees at Curtin at the time of the
Commission's visit in July 2000, all but 25 had been 'screened in' to
the refugee determination process. The remaining 25 were being held in
a compound separated by two wire fences screened with tarpaulins. They
had been interviewed by DIMA officers but had not been given access to
legal assistance. The Manager stated that none of the 25 had requested
his 1998-99 Review the Human Rights Commissioner wrote:
Act 1958 (Cth) section 256 requires the provision of legal assistance
upon request. Section 193 requires all detainees to be notified of their
right to make such a request with the exception of those who have arrived
unlawfully by boat or plane (ie without a valid visa). In their case
the Act does not require the authorities to notify the detainee of the
right to make such a request. The Department's position is that the
legislation prevents its officers notifying unauthorised arrivals of
their rights. In the Commission's view, it does not.The
Government's position is that the effect of the legislation is consistent
with international law. In the Commission's view, it is not.
Commission's view is that this situation is wrong in law and principle.
Article 9.4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) requires that all detainees have an opportunity to challenge
their detention in a court of law. Article 14.1 requires the court to
be "competent, independent and impartial" and the hearing to be "fair
and public". 'Fairness' must at least require that the individual have
an opportunity to present his or her case effectively by reference to
Australian law and in accordance with Australian procedures. For unauthorised
arrivals with little or no understanding of Australia's Migration Act
and, typically, very little English language comprehension, effective
presentation requires the assistance of an independent advocate with
expertise in migration and refugee law. In other words, compliance with
ICCPR articles 9.4 and 14.1 requires that detainees have ready access
to independent legal advice and assistance.
July 2000 the UN Human Rights Committee observed with respect to Australia's
Committee considers that the mandatory detention under the Migration
Act of 'unlawful non-citizens', including asylum seekers, raises questions
of compliance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Covenant, which provides
that no person shall be subjected to arbitrary detention. The Committee
is concerned at the State party's policy, in this context of mandatory
detention, of not informing the detainees of their right to seek legal
advice and of not allowing access of non-governmental human rights organizations
to the detainees in order to inform them of this right.
Committee recommended as follows:
Committee urges the State party to reconsider its policy of mandatory
detention of 'unlawful non-citizens' with a view to instituting alternative
mechanisms of maintaining an orderly immigration process. The Committee
recommends that the State party inform all detainees of their legal
rights, including their right to seek legal counsel. 
to provide legal advice on request not only violates international minimum
human rights standards but also Australian law (Migration Act 1958
significance of contacts with the outside world and in particular with
family and friends is expressly recognised in Principle 19 of the Body
of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention
or Imprisonment which provides: "A detained or imprisoned person shall
have the right to be visited by and to correspond with, in particular,
members of his family and shall be given adequate opportunity to communicate
with the outside world, subject to reasonable conditions and restrictions
as specified in law or lawful regulations". Immigration detention centres
should have effective policies that allow detainees to have contact with
family and friends outside detention while still maintaining detention
security. At least weekly contact should be permitted (Guidelines
at Curtin IRPC
a lengthy period in which all detainees were unable to make contact with
the outside world - either within Australia or overseas - there are now
four telephones at the centre, one for incoming calls and three for outgoing
calls. Detainees are not provided with newspapers although televisions
and videos are available. Although a very significant improvement on the
earlier situation, the number of telephones remains inadequate for a centre
with over 800 detainees.
are recognised at international law as being vulnerable and more susceptible
to harm than adults. Accordingly, article 3(1) of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child (CROC) requires that, in any action concerning
children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
CROC further stipulates that
detention of a child must be in conformity with the law and only be
used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period
of time (article 37(b))
child is not to be separated from his or her parents against their will,
except where this is in the child's best interests (article 9), and
the legal rights and responsibilities of parents are to be respected
State Party must undertake all appropriate measures to promote physical
and psychological recovery for child victims of neglect, exploitation,
torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment (article 39).
seeker children are to receive "appropriate protection and humanitarian
assistance in the enjoyment of their [CROC and other human rights]" (article
at Curtin IRPC
the time of the Commission's visit in July 2000 there were 128 children
in the centre. Centre staff appeared to be doing whatever they could to
assist the children in the detention environment. However, the basic problem
is detention itself. The Commission is concerned that so many children
should be detained in a centre as remote as Curtin IRPC where there is
a large contingent of single male detainees, many of whom have themselves
been the subject of continuing stress, deprivation and trauma. The alleged
commission of sex offences against two child detainees is indicative of
the perils inherent in the centre arrangements.
of sexual abuse of children
Commission was informed that charges of sexual abuse of two children at
Curtin have been laid against two male detainees. The DIMA Manager reported
that the incident had prompted the management to institute education programs
for detainees on matters relating to child sex offences under Australian
law. Staff at the centre have also been counselled about the need for
vigilance on behalf of detained children. Without commenting on those
charges, the Commission is concerned that the detention environment places
children at risk of sexual and physical abuse.
Curtin IRPC there is no playground although there is a table tennis table
and video. A demountable was reserved for the use of women and children
at the time of the Commission's visit. The Commission was informed that
this had been found necessary as the male detainees refused to allow the
women and children into the general television area.
Commission was provided with a timetable detailing the recreational and
educational programs at the centre. The Commission was informed that the
centre had instituted excursions to Derby for the child detainees. When
pressed the DIMA Manager explained that nine children had been taken to
play volleyball at Derby during the week preceding the Commission's visit.
The Commission was told that moves to allow the children to swim in the
Derby swimming pool had met with resistance from local residents.
able to work with detainees is more than simply a case of being able to
tolerate an isolated environment. It requires special skills to assist
highly emotional, confused and traumatised people in a sensitive and caring
way. A sensitive approach is especially required in the case of victims
of torture or other serious human rights abuses. Principle 2 of the Body
of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention
or Imprisonment requires that detention be managed "by competent officials
or persons authorised for that purpose". Staff at immigration detention
centres need to be appropriately qualified and trained to interact with
administrative detainees (that is, people who have not been sentenced
for any crime) (Guidelines section 16.2).
at Curtin IRPC
detainees' consultative committee interviewed by the Commission offered
no criticisms of staffing at Curtin, although all agreed that all aspects
of the centre were "much improved" since the early days of their detention.
The ACM Manager informed the Commission that every one of the guards at
Curtin undertakes a course in critical incident management during orientation.
However, a health professional who had worked at Curtin IRPC described
the Curtin staff as having an 'us and them' approach to detainees and
showing no indication of sympathy for the situation of their charges.
Commission accepts that the necessary haste in establishing Curtin in
1999 led to staff placed there not being adequately trained. However,
with the immediate pressure eased, intensive training for staff remains
a necessary priority.
degree of security and discipline is required to ensure an appropriate
standard of behaviour and the maintenance of civil order in any detention
facility. However, it is essential that any security measures and disciplinary
action be conducted in a respectful and humane manner. ICCPR article 10
requires that all detainees must be "treated with humanity and with respect
for the inherent dignity of the human person". Torture and other cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are outlawed (article 7).
right to privacy is also relevant to security. Interference with detainees'
privacy must not be unlawful or arbitrary (article 17).
detained person should be given the right to be heard before any disciplinary
action is implemented. Principle 30(2) Body of Principles for the Protection
of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment stipulates:
"A detained or imprisoned person shall have the right to be heard before
disciplinary action is taken. He shall have the right to bring such action
to higher authorities for review."
action must never, under any circumstances, involve the use of force that
is disproportionate to the action that it seeks to correct (the issue
of Use of Force is discussed below).
at Curtin IRPC
a tour of the centre the Commission was shown the facilities for isolating
and observing detainees. The section is referred to as 'Hotel' 
and is constituted by a row of demountable buildings that are air-conditioned
but otherwise empty, sealed units with a single uncurtained window. The
DIMA Manager stated that the rooms were used for anyone "undermining the
good order of the centre", as "timeout" for the protagonists of an unresolved
fight. He said that the rooms were used for the least amount of time possible.
For example, people returned to the centre from prison after escaping
in June 2000 were held in these rooms for two days, with the first day
used as a debriefing period and the second with the detainee allowed back
into the camp community under close supervision of the staff. The DIMA
Manager suggested that detainees sometimes requested time in the 'Hotel'
practice at the centre is for ACM staff to call detainees by number rather
than by name. Centre managers gave the following reasons for this practice:
the detainees all had similar names; they were difficult to pronounce;
they changed their names. The Commission considers that there is no practical
reason why detainees cannot be called by the name of their choice. This
does not prevent numbers being used as identifiers in a broad administrative
context, for example, as part of the refugee determination process.
and Consultation Arrangements
effective complaint resolution mechanism must be in place to ensure that
detainees' complaints are treated seriously and confidentially. This is
recognised in Principle 33 of the Body of Principles for the Protection
of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment which provides
that detainees should be entitled to complain about their treatment to
the detention authorities and to higher authorities. Australian law entitles
immigration detainees to complain to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Commission.
at Curtin IRPC
ACM Manager advised the Commission that the detainees' consultative committee
members were chosen by management without consultation with detainees.
None of the members spoke English with sufficient confidence to speak
without an interpreter.
group stated that it served as a mechanism for dialogue with centre management
and that it met every three to four weeks. The group stated that they
had no real complaints about the centre as it now operates. This committee
had been selected some three weeks prior to the Commission's visit.
Commission did not observe copies of its posters or those of the Commonwealth
Ombudsman on display in the centre. However, the detainees in the main
compounds seemed to have a good idea about the identity of the Human Rights
Commissioner and about the purpose of his visit.
Food and Clothing
food and clothing for detainees must "meet the requirements of health
and human dignity" (Guidelines section 9.1). Detainees must not
be exposed to the elements and must not be expected to endure extremes
of heat or cold. Detention centres should strive to allow some privacy,
especially during ablutions (Guidelines section 9.7).
at Curtin IRPC
All detainees interviewed complained that the original accommodation was
uncomfortable and inadequate. The accommodation during the first six weeks
was in tents, with poor ablution and other facilities.
at the centre have improved dramatically in the intervening months. Detainees
are now housed in demountable buildings, referred to as 'dongas'. Most
are air-conditioned, with 16 people to a unit. No separate accommodation
is available for women and children, although family groups are housed
together. The detainees' consultative committee stated that there were
no serious complaints, although the bedding supplied was inadequate on
the colder winter nights.
ablution facilities provided when the centre was first recommissioned
were criticised by detainees. The Commission was told that, at that time,
the toilets and showers leaked and that the camp was cut by flows of sewage
that both smelled bad and attracted swarms of flies and mosquitoes.
July 2000 the demountables fitted out as shower and toilet blocks were
generally adequate. The Commission was told that ACM faced difficulties
because of the cultural differences in the toilet and bathing habits of
the detainees, which led to frequent flooding of the facilities. The Commission's
observation was that the demountable buildings were not well drained,
with evidence of water flowing out from the shower and outlet areas. More
importantly, they did not appear to be adequate for the high level use
demanded of them.
detainees all complained about the quality and quantity of food in the
period before about May 2000. By the date of the Commission's visit in
July 2000, however, attempts were being made to provide culturally appropriate
food for all detainees. Detainees were doing most of the cooking.
Commission inspected the kitchen and mess area while a meal was in preparation.
It was informed that detainees have a choice of vegetarian or meat dishes
and that Halal meat is used for Muslim detainees. The preparation areas
appeared to be clean and well organised.
Curtin IRPC now has a demountable set aside as a sewing room. The Commission
was shown piles of cotton clothing, including children's clothing and
adult sized shirts made by the detainees. The DIMA Manager stated that
detainees were free to come to the building and ask for clothing as needed.
account is somewhat at odds with that of detainees interviewed. The detainees'
consultative committee stated that families with children were permitted
new clothes for their children every two months but complained that the
clothing provided was made from a thin cotton fabric inadequate for the
cold weather sometimes experienced. They stated that they occasionally
received clothes from Islamic charities but that the supply was irregular
and they were told to "be patient".
and Mental Health
detainees are entitled to medical treatment and care provided in a manner
that is culturally appropriate and which respects the inherent dignity
of the human person. That treatment and care should be commensurate with
that provided in the general Australian community (Guidelines section
who have experienced traumatic circumstances prior to detention often
require extensive medical treatment, both of a mental and physical nature.
This need is intensified by the fact that being in detention can itself
heighten such problems. Accordingly, Principle 24 of the Body of Principles
requires that a proper medical examination be offered to a detained person
as promptly as possible after his or her admission to detention. Further,
subject to requirements to ensure security, detainees should also be given
the opportunity of seeking a second medical opinion where this is desired
at Curtin IRPC
in other areas, the medical facilities and treatment at Curtin IRPC in
July appeared to be a vast improvement over the situation in place earlier
in the year. These improvements are very welcome.
IRPC now has one full time doctor on site, who is on site five days a
week and on call after hours. There are 12 nurses on staff providing a
24-hour clinic. The nursing staff includes individuals with expertise
in all the major areas: pediatrics, psychiatry, gynaecology and general
medicine. The centre also makes use of the regional hospital at Derby.
On at least one occasion a detainee has been flown to Port Hedland for
a CAT scan and surgical cases have been transferred to Perth. The centre
has been assisted in such transfers by the Royal Flying Doctor Service
that has an operational centre in Derby.
DIMA Manager responded to concerns he said had been raised about over-servicing
of the detainees. He said this perception might arise because of the past
practice of rotating doctors, which sometimes led to a series of doctors
seeing and treating patients.
Commission inquired about a child detainee who presented at the centre
with a clubfoot. The Manager stated that an orthopedic surgeon had assessed
the child but that treatment was a long-term project that was pointless
to initiate while the child was in detention and that the treatment was
not needed urgently. He said that the child would have been treated if
the advice was that treatment was urgently required and that every effort
was being made to expedite the processing of the claims made by the child's
parents but that delays were being experienced from overseas.
asked about the use of chemical restraints on detainees, the mental health
professionals interviewed stated that they were not aware of any instances
of inappropriate use of such restraints, although they were aware that
the centre had a good supply of sedative drugs.
consultative committee stated that access to medical care at the centre
was generally adequate in July 2000, except in the two areas of dental
and eye care. One detainee complained that a detainee who complains of
toothache is given the choice of either having the tooth extracted free
of charge or paying for a filling. The detainee stated that he knew of
a man who had paid $100 to have two teeth filled. He said that for many
detainees the only option is to have the tooth pulled out. The detainee
stated that while the centre would test the vision of detainees it would
not provide glasses unless the detainee could pay for them.
right to education is recognised at international law as a fundamental
right of all people. Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights requires States Parties to direct education
to "the full development of the human personality and the sense of its
dignity". However, the provision of proper education is especially critical
for children. CROC article 28(1) requires States Parties to:
primary education compulsory and available free to all, and
the development of different forms of secondary education, including
general and vocational education, make them available and accessible
to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction
of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need.
accordance with this requirement, children in immigration detention centres
are entitled to be provided with education to assist in their educational
and social development. They are not to be denied this right merely because
they are in detention and isolated from traditional forms of schooling.
at Curtin IRPC
management at Curtin now provides educational programs for both adult
and child detainees. The children have school for 5 days each week, from
8.30am - 3pm. The programs focus on English, mathematics and self esteem.
Adult classes run from 3 - 7pm. The schedule of classes includes computer
classes from 3 - 4pm and English language and communication classes from
4 - 6pm. Formal language classes are given by three qualified teachers
on ACM staff and nine detainees and some visiting students, with 16 classes
of one hour's duration each, seven days a week. The Manager stated that
an average of 71 students attended each day of a total of 380 adults undertaking
educational programs. He said that computer training was to be provided
by detainees with experience as computer programmers. Staff informed the
Commission that two computers were on order from Derby but that they had
not yet arrived at the centre. Accordingly, the Commission understood
that the reference to computer classes was to classes envisaged to commence
once the computers arrived.
the time of the Commission's visit there were 128 children in the centre.
The educational arrangements for them appeared to be basic but adequate
provided the period in detention is short. The Commission was provided
with a timetable detailing the recreational and educational programs at
the centre described above. The teachers observed during the Commission's
visit appeared enthusiastic.
detainees' consultative committee expressed no major complaints about
the teaching schedule, although one detainee stated that older children
were disadvantaged as they fitted comfortably into neither the children's
nor the adults' program. The detainee stated that these children felt
that they were "losing a year of their life". The group stated that the
present programs had been put in place over the three months preceding
the Commission's visit.
detainees should have the facilities to utilise their time constructively.
The isolation, conditions and indeterminate nature of immigration detention
are such as to jeopardise the already precarious physical well-being and
mental health of many detainees. Boredom and futility must not be allowed
to exacerbate this risk (Guidelines section 7.2).
at Curtin IRPC
Commission observed that detainees were given the opportunity to participate
in sporting competitions such as football tournaments, volleyball, basketball,
table tennis, dancing, aerobics, weight lifting and walking. As mentioned
above, an effort had been made shortly before the Commission's visit to
institute sporting outings for the children to Derby. The DIMA Manager
stated that nine of the children had been taken to play volleyball at
the courts in Derby. The detainees' consultative committee confirmed that
the children had been delighted with their outing. The Commission welcomes
this initiative but considers that a more comprehensive and sustained
program is required to allow the children out of the centre as much as
relation to work at the centre, the DIMA Manager explained the regime
that had been developed so as to allow detainees to work and earn 'points'
by way of reward. Detainees are employed in many different activities
around the centre. Reference has already been made to the nine detainees
employed as English language teachers. Other jobs include cooking, food
preparation and serving, cleaning, gardening and sewing. The Commission
was shown a series of murals on the demountables painted by an artist
among the detainees and the demountable set aside as a sewing room, with
the piles of clothes and accessories made by detainees.
Commission's visit in July 2000 coincided with the designation of a TV/recreation
building for women and children. The DIMA Manager explained that this
measure was necessary because the male detainees had refused to allow
women and children into the building housing the main television and video
Commission was also shown the canteen where detainees can buy groceries
and basic necessities either with cash or with the points that they have
earned through the programs in operation. Detainees can earn a maximum
of 35 points a week. The DIMA Manager stated that competition for the
better jobs such as cooking is keen. The system observed by the Commission
appeared to be well organised although the opportunities for work were
far fewer than the demands of the detainees for it.
Religion and Culture
of religious belief and practice is a fundamental right which should be
secured to the maximum extent possible in immigration detention (Guidelines
at Curtin IRPC
interviewed by the Commission commented on the surprising lack of discord
in the centre over matters of religion. The DIMA Manager stated that one
of the detainees was an Imam who was able to officiate at prayer sessions.
A place is set aside for religious worship. The Manager stated that provision
is made for detainees of different faiths to celebrate religious festivals.
Halal meats are provided for observant Muslim detainees. Christian services
are also conducted. The current arrangements at Curtin appear to comply
with the rights and interests of the detainees.
The Committee's Concluding Observations can be read at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/MasterFrameView/e1015b8a76fec400c125694900433654?Opendocument
The name reflects the alphabetical naming of the different compounds at
the centre rather than the type of accommodation offered.