Comcare Report: Untold Damage

Comcare Report: Untold Damage

The federal regulator of Commonwealth workplaces, Comcare, has been the watchdog of immigration detention facilities in Australia and regional processing centres (‘RPCs’) in Nauru and Manus Island for many years.

The Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (‘WHS Act’) places a statutory duty of care upon the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (‘DIBP’) as the legal person conducting the business or undertaking (‘PCBU’), to ensure the health and safety of workers and ‘other persons’ such as detainees. A duty of care also exists at common law.

This duty extends to identifying, eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety, and reporting ‘notifiable incidents’ (as defined in the WHS Act) to Comcare. Comcare in turn is obliged to investigate incidents and make recommendations to increase health and safety. It also has enforcement powers.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (‘ALA’) applied under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) to unearth details of what the DIBP has been reporting to Comcare from FY2013 – 2015.

This Report details both what was, and was not, reported to Comcare, and how these reports were investigated.

Read the report here

RCOA Briefing – Visitors’ Access to People in Detention

RCOA Briefing – Visitors’ Access to People in Detention

December 2016


“It is really important that visitors play the role of witnesses in a system where there is no independent scrutiny. By making it hard for us to get in, we are placing people at risk.”- A detention visitor in Victoria

“While I go to the detention centre to bring hope, I often find nowadays [with added restrictions] I have, like the detainees, been drained of any hope.”- A detention visitor

Every day, ordinary Australians visit people detained in Australia’s onshore immigration detention facilities. This is an important and often under-appreciated role. These visitors provide emotional support to people in detention, advocate on their behalf and fill in the gaps that exist in provision of services and information in immigration detention facilities. One person who had spent several years in different immigration detention facilities told us “visitors make us feel normal again, even if it is for a few hours”. People who visit immigration detention also often provide the only public information about what is happening in our immigration detention facilities as Australia does not have an official national body that publicly and regularly reports on visits to immigration detention facilities.

Read more here

Afghan refugee graduates as dux of school

Adelaide student Ali Wahidi achieves academic success, wins Andrew Knox scholarship

By Simon Royal

ABC News – 13 December 2016

Ali Wahidi smiles

Ali Wahidi arrived in Australia from Afghanistan without a word of English, but at 17 he has graduated from his Adelaide secondary school as dux by winning the academic prizes in each of his subjects.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve gone this year,” the Playford College student said modestly, conceding sibling rivalry played a role in his success.

Read more here

Syrian refugee graduates as dux of school

Syrian refugee graduates dux of one of Australia’s largest Catholic schools

By Patrick Wright

ABC News – 13 December 2016


A Syrian refugee who only started learning English in 2014 after fleeing the embattled city of Homs, has graduated as dux of one of Australia’s largest secondary Catholic schools.

In 2013, Saad Al-Kassab and his family managed to escape the bloody civil war in Syria which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Just three years later, he has been celebrated as dux of Catholic Regional College Sydenham, in Melbourne’s north-west, after earning an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 96.65.

Read more here