14 August 2020: Report into the current state of immigration detention facilities

Today the Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe published a report about his Office’s activities in overseeing immigration detention during the second half of 2019.

This report summarises the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s oversight of immigration detention facilities during the period from July to December 2019. It draws on observations from our inspections of immigration detention centres during the period, as well as other aspects of the Office’s oversight: handling complaints, analysis of the number of persons detained and subsequently released as not unlawful, and assessing the circumstances of people in long-term detention.

‘During this inspection period, we noted overall improvements in a number of areas ranging from the provision of welfare services to transport and escort tasks. We also noted improvement with regard to the incidence and duration of people being detained and subsequently released because they were residing lawfully in the community’, Mr Manthorpe said.

‘However, there are still concerns with respect to the long duration of detention of some detainees. In addition, shortfalls in privacy and mobility access within the modular high security compounds, the management of complaints and security risk assessments identified in our previous report also continue to raise concerns.’

This report should be read in conjunction with the Ombudsman’s subsequent statement on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigration detention, and the earlier report on detention inspections for the period from January to June 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents particular risks in detention environments, but also challenges for inspection bodies. The Office will continue to monitor the department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic including its infection control measures across the immigration detention network.