RCOA Briefing – Visitors’ Access to People in Detention

RCOA Briefing – Visitors’ Access to People in Detention

December 2016

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“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.

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