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