RCOA welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 and its likely impacts on people in detention, their families and support networks, as well as visitors to immigration detention facilities.
We believe there is no need for this Bill, as the current powers, laws and policies can and do deal with the issues that the Government seeks to address via the Bill. We are deeply troubled by this legislation, as it aims to introduce further restrictions to an immigration detention environment that is already highly restrictive. Those restrictions are likely to be implemented without proper consideration of the vulnerabilities and needs of people detained in those facilities. If passed, this Bill grants further broad and unchecked powers to the Minister and detention officers.
We are also disappointed that, similar to a number of other Bills and policies introduced in relation to immigration detention in recent years, this Bill does not address the real problems with Australia’s immigration detention system: namely, the lack of a time limit on detention and limited oversight of decisions to detain.
RCOA recommends that Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 not be passed.
RCOA strongly recommends against implementing restrictive policies on all people in detention to mitigate the risks potentially presented by some. Through risk-based placement, the Department can determine the needs and challenges of each individual in detention and implement policies appropriate to that person.
RCOA has long argued for comprehensive reforms of Australia’s detention system to prevent prolonged, indefinite and unnecessary detention. The central focus of detention reform should be on ensuring the immigration detention is used as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. As a general rule, people should only be subject to immigration detention after having undergone a thorough, individualised and risk-based assessment which has determined that there is a genuine need for detention and no other alternatives are available. When people are subject to detention, clear legislative time limits should apply and a system of regular judicial review should be established to monitor the ongoing need for detention.