The Refugee Council of Australia made a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The submission focused on the experiences of people with disability in immigration detention and the main issues and concerns they face. RCOA believes the experiences of people with disability in immigration detention have not been adequately explored so far and hopes the Royal Commission pays particular attention to this group.
For this submission, we focused on closed detention facilities. They include onshore immigration detention facilities (Immigration Detention Centres (IDC), Immigration Transit Accommodation (ITA) and Alternative Places of Detention (APOD)) and offshore processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island. We did not focus on the experiences of people with disability in residence determination arrangements (community detention). We aimed to present the experiences of a diverse range of people in closed detention: men and women, children, young people, refugees, people seeking asylum, and people whose visas have been cancelled.
To better understand the reality of the situation in immigration detention for people with disability, RCOA sought to speak to people with disability who experienced onshore and/or offshore detention. As our access to this group proved to be limited, we also spoke to a number of people who had clients or friends with disability in detention. Further, we analysed and utilised a range of publicly available information and case studies.
Some of the issues of concern we highlighted in this submission need to be reviewed urgently because of their significantly adverse impacts on people with disability. They include current detention practices like the use of restraints. As the final reporting date for this Royal Commission has been extended to 29 September 2023, we hope that the Royal Commission will publish an interim report focusing on the experiences of people with disability in detention and highlight some of the most pressing issues.