Refugee Council of Australia
Parliament house, canberra, australia

ALP refugee policy commitments in their 2021 National Platform

Immigration detention

  1. (Page 119) Labor will work to ensure those in detention facilities are treated with dignity and respect and have access to an appropriate standard of care and substantive access to health and education services while held in immigration detention centres.
  2. (Page 124) Labor will explore options other than indefinite detention, including third country resettlement, to deal with refugees with adverse security assessments in a way that does not jeopardise Australia’s national security interests.
  3. (Page 126) Labor will ensure there is a strong, independent voice within government to advocate for the rights, interests and well-being of children seeking asylum within the immigration system, including those in immigration detention. Labor will appoint an officer independent of the Department of Home Affairs, backed by the administrative resources and statutory powers necessary to pursue the best interests of those children, including the power to bring court proceedings on a child’s behalf. This will be done without reducing the Minister’s obligations in relation to unaccompanied non-citizen children.
  4. Under Labor’s policies, unauthorised arrivals who enter for the purpose of seeking asylum will be mandatorily detained, for management of health, identity and security risks to the community. Labor will strive to ensure this is for no longer than 90 days.
  5. Labor believes community-based assessment is the most reasonable, humane and cost-effective approach for supporting asylum seekers while their claim for protection is assessed.
  6. Labor’s humane and risk-based immigration detention policies and practices will be guided by key immigration detention principles, namely:
  • Detention that is indefinite or otherwise arbitrary is not acceptable and the length and conditions of detention, including the appropriateness of both the accommodation and the services provided, will be subject to regular review;
  • Detention will occur in a Government-run immigration detention centre appropriately located close to services and relevant support and is only to be used as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time;
  • People in detention will be treated fairly and reasonably within the law;
  • People in detention will be provided an appropriate standard of care including the provision of health, mental health and education services a standard consistent with that afforded to the Australian community; and
  • Conditions of detention will ensure the inherent dignity and safety of the human person.
  1. Labor supports the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Accordingly, Labor’s humane and risk-based immigration detention policies and practices will include a commitment to ensure that after the necessary health, identity and security checks every humanly practical effort will be taken to remove children and their families from immigration detention centres into alternative suitable arrangements.
  2. Unlawful non-citizens will be subject to mandatory detention where they present a proven unacceptable risk to the community.
  3. (Page 128) Labor will ensure all Australian Government involvement in detention facilities it operates or funds is subject to transparent, independent oversight. Provisions for this oversight will be reflected in all contracts with service providers including through providing effective and consistent protections for whistle-blowers. Labor will use its best endeavours to provide for this oversight in any relevant international agreements, including by enabling Comcare to fulfil its regulatory obligation to investigate all serious matters within Australian-funded onshore immigration detention centres and offshore regional processing centres.
  4. Recognising the inequities of the policy of charging immigration detainees a daily maintenance rate while in immigration detention, Labor extinguished such detention debts and will oppose any attempts to reinstate this practice.
  5. As soon as the reasons for mandatory detention have ceased every effort must be made to remove asylum seekers from immigration detention centres through community detention or the granting of bridging visas with work rights. People seeking asylum will have means-tested access to funded migration assistance, and to appropriate social services, including income, crisis housing, healthcare, mental health, community, education and English as a Second Language support during the assessment of the claim for protection.
  6. The provision of services at immigration detention centres will remain with private sector contractors for the term of the current contracts. In evaluating the future form of detention facility service provision, the views of all stakeholders, including the relevant trade unions must be taken into account.
  7. Labor will legislate to impose mandatory reporting of child abuse in all onshore immigration detention facilities and offshore regional processing centres and work with all State and Territory governments to ensure all unaccompanied minor refugee children are covered by the relevant child protection authorities.

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