11 January 2017: Ombudsman releases report into the processing of asylum seekers who arrived in 2013 on a suspected illegal vessel

Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave today released an own motion report into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s processing of asylum seekers who arrived on the suspected illegal entry vessel Lambeth in 2013.

The Ombudsman’s office first became aware of apparent discrepancies in the processing of these asylum seekers in information provided by the department, as part of the Ombudsman’s obligation to report on people who have been in immigration detention for more than two years.

“There was a prolonged attempt by our office to have this clarified by the department. And while ultimately we were satisfied that the asylum seekers had been processed correctly, what emerged from this investigation was that there appeared to be no central integrated repository of all the relevant information about individual asylum seekers,” Mr Neave said.

Not only did this impact on the department’s ability to provide responses to the Ombudsman in a timely manner, it also meant that incorrect advice was given to the Ombudsman in relation to these asylum seekers and whether they were properly assessed as being offshore arrivals.

“This raises concerns that all relevant information was not available to officers of the department in a timely manner,” Mr Neave said.

The department has accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations that it review the information it recorded for asylum seekers on the Lambeth and identify any shortcomings in its scope, and ensure all relevant information is readily available to departmental officers. The department also agreed that any learnings from this review be applied to its systems more broadly.

The Ombudsman will make no further comment on the reports.

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