Serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect of asylum seekers in relation to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, and any like allegations in relation to the Manus Regional Processing Centre

from Government of Australia
Published on 21 Apr 2017 View Original

The Senate
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee

Chair's foreword

Australia's policy of offshore processing has been the subject of a number of Senate inquiries. These inquires have been highly critical of many aspects of the Regional Processing Centre (RPC) policy.
The evidence which this committee has received has fallen primarily within three main areas:

  • the operation and administration of RPCs, including service delivery, incident reporting, and health, safety and welfare;

  • the offshore processing policy itself, including whether it is effective, lawful, and/or represents 'value for money'; and

  • looking to the future, including how Australia can expedite third country resettlement options.

A substantial part of this report is devoted to recording the high number of incident reports made public through the publication of 'the Nauru files',1 and supported by evidence from submitters to this inquiry. While evidence of this nature is not new, and reflects evidence which has been presented to previous inquiries, it is the first time that this volume and detail of information has been publicly available. Some of the reports are recordings of allegations made by refugees and asylum seekers, and many contain information which workers have observed first hand. The content is deeply concerning. Collectively, these reports paint the picture of a deeply troubled asylum seeker and refugee population, and an unsafe living environment—especially for children. Even more troublingly, these reports only record those incidents which have actually been reported to workers, or which workers have themselves observed.
Undoubtedly, they do not reflect the true prevalence of such incidents.

In its current manifestation, Australia's policy of offshore processing is deeply affected by structural complexity. Despite the efforts of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the department), its contractors and sub-contractors, and other related stakeholders, there are clear failures by the department in administering the current policy in a safe and transparent manner. The policy structure is complex, and it relies heavily on the private sector to administer the day-to-day management of the scheme. This structural complexity has led to a lack of accountability and transparency in the administration of the policy, and a failure to clearly acknowledge where the duty of care lies in relation to those asylum seekers and refugees. For a policy which represents such a significant investment of Australian public funds, this lack of accountability is disturbing.