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Hunger strike starts over immigration detention visits restrictions

Media Release: Refugee Action Coalition

Over two hundred detainees at two detention centres, Villawood in Sydney and Maribynong in Melbourne, have declared a hunger strike in protest at visiting restrictions recently announced by Border Force. The detainees have been on hunger strike for more than 24 hours, since the morning of Monday 15 January.

Posters declaring the changes would apply after 22 January went up unannounced in the centres, last week. Detainees only found out about the policy when told by their visitors.

Under the restrictions, visitors will have to give five days’ notice of any visit, fill in a five-page form, with actual visits will be restricted to one on one. Visitors will also be required to have 100 points of ID when they attend the detention centre to visit.

The restrictions will hit families especially hard. Visiting minors will also now need identification.

These restrictions come on top of recent moves by Border Force to restrict what food can be brought into the detention centre and the attempt to ban mobile phones.

The moves, dressed up as security measures have nothing to do with security and everything to do with moves to militarise the detention centres under the control of Border Force, and their black-shirted officers. They go hand in hand with measures to routinely handcuff anyone taken to appointments outside the detention centres.

Under the announced changes, there will also be restrictions on the amount of property that is allowable for any detainee.

The changes are similar to changes that were announced in September last year but which were substantially withdrawn after protests at the time. Both the attempt to ban mobile phones and food are the subject of legal action taken on behalf of detainees against Border Force. Detainees are angry that the changes have been declared without any prior consultation with detainees or visitors.

A letter drafted by the detainees was delivered to Border Force officials yesterday. It is understood that Border Force officials will meet with detainees’ representatives today (Tuesday) to formally announce the new policy.

“There is no justification for the visiting restrictions. They are unacceptable, and should be dropped,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “By imposing such draconian terms on visits, it looks like Border Force is trying to deter visiting to detention all together and make conditions in detention even more intolerable.”

“Their old visiting arrangements have been in place for many years. There is no new security issue that has emerged to justify these measures. The militarisation of the detention centres is the inevitable outcome of the government’s scare-mongering over border security.

“The government should be ending mandatory detention to allow asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are being processed. And the increased use of 501 visa cancellation is turning detention centres into extensions of the prison system.”


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  1. paul walter

    This is a very mentally sick government.

  2. Andreas Bimba

    “There is no justification for the visiting restrictions”

    There is a particularly stupid, callous and xenophobic sub group in the electorate that has a psychological profile similar to Dutton, Abbott, Abetz, Joyce and the rest of the hard right of the Coalition and this group may well outnumber the current Greens vote.

    They remind me a bit of the Roman subculture that enjoyed public executions, gladiator fights and the killing of wild animals. It was entertainment and it provided a distraction but it was wrong and unjustifiable just as most of what the Coalition does is in reality just as brutal and unjustifiable.

    Let’s put a few of the cells in those hideous private jails to good purpose once Dutton, other fellow conspirators, any callous bureaucrats and private contractors are put on trial for gross abuse of human rights including man slaughter and torture by design or by deliberate neglect.

  3. Miriam English

    Dutton and his revolting pals definitely need to be tried for their crimes. What unutterably horrible specimens of puke they are!

  4. diannaart

    … and then I awoke, realising Dutton and his droogs were just a bad dream…

  5. wam

    Soft on detention was electoral suicide in gillard’s day and over time tougher stances are needed to maintain the lnp advantage over labor. (Jan 26, 2010 – ”The views of the Government are clear. We believe mandatory detention is necessary when people arrive unauthorised, for security reasons, in order to do health checks and in order to check identity, and we will continue to have a mandatory detention policy.)

    Facebook is sharing ‘only 6 of a Sudanese gang of 60 are Australian born’.
    That alone reinforces the lnp support from society.

    Opposition is available to Di’s boys and will probably put money in their pocket come the next election.

    The government has two other, oft used in emergencies, rallying cries – dole bludgers and unions. Each with great media support.

    Support which hides any collateral damage and ridicules any objectors.

    Mandatory detention is a major part of electoral success for all – Labor and the LNP for with the loonies against

  6. Terry2

    Some years ago I went on record as saying that this policy of detention without trial – both offshore and onshore – would cost us dearly in the long term . We Have already seen the results of a class action on behalf of Manus Island detainees cost the Australian taxpayer (that’s the person you see in the mirror) $70 million in damages plus plaintiff’s costs of $20 million and our own costs : so just that one case comes in at well over one hundred million dollars.

    The courts will recognise our rights as a sovereign nation to detain, process and resettle asylum seekers but the indefinite detention of people who have not committed any crime is indefensible as we found out with the Manus case.

    When Dutton is long gone we will still be paying for his incompetence and intransigence.

  7. Glenn Barry

    What is most concerning is the impunity with which Dutton and his acolytes ignore all of the findings of human rights abuses, which has me wondering just what does it take for an International legal body to initiate prosecution proceedings?

  8. Leo Jai

    Terry2 is right in his observation that this detention regime would cost us in the long term.
    We have already seen the start of it with the recent $70mil payout in the Manus class action. There is still more to come on that front.
    With respect to onshore detention, it seems the apple is ready to fall there too.
    There is currently a case in the High Court (Falzon v Immigration Minister) which has challenged the legitimacy of 2014 legislation changes which have seen hundreds of people detained on ‘character grounds’ – some for little more than traffic offences.
    The case is awaiting a final decision and Dutton’s crew are very much aware of the implications.
    If successful it means that every detention/deportation he has enacted under the legislation (s501 (3a) of the Migration Act 1958) will be invalid, and those affected will have cases for compensation.


    they are treating them like convicted criminals serving a sentence. disgracefull. thats all dutton and his mindset know…everyones a criminal…the unemployed, pensioners, suddanese youth…Dutton has a seriously perverted mind

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