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Acacia Prison
Wooroloo, Australia
Serco (AIMS, and Sodexho formerly CCA)
May 11, 2017 bunburymail.com.au
Acacia Prison incident not result of 'short-staffing
Private prison operator Serco has rejected claims its Acacia prison is short-staffed after a WA union said the corporation had failed to address "rising tensions" inside the facility. An incident occurred in the medium security prison where two officers were assaulted by inmates on Friday. The Western Australian Prison Officers Union (WAPOU) said the facility had been about 17 staff short on the day of the incident, and the incident was a result of poor staffing levels. "Acacia is full and the staff are stretched," WAPOU secretary John Welch said. "The tension and pressure in the prison is being felt by members, who are concerned that it could escalate. "Prison staff are consistently run off their feet and working under pressure because the prison is working at maximum capacity." The Acacia medium security facility is currently run by the private security firm Serco; a company also responsible for court security and non-clinical services at Fiona Stanley Hospital in WA. As of January 2017, 1513 offenders were kept at the facility. This prison population means it is currently the largest facility in WA. A Serco spokesman said the concerns raised by the WAPOU were not justified, and the incident was a one-off. "The safety and security of staff and the men in our care is a priority at Acacia Prison," he said. "This isolated incident was handled extremely well by our staff. Unfortunately two staff were injured and we are working closely with them to provide support and care. "The prison "temperature" is measured daily and has not seen any specific increase in tensions over the past weeks." In WA, both public and private corrective services operate on a "dynamic" offender-to-staff ratio, and local agreements between the Department of Corrective Service and private facilities allow operating regimes to adapt in order to ensure "safe and secure" operation. A Department of Corrective Services spokesman said the department keeps a close eye on all prison facilities to ensure they meet staffing agreements. "The Department of Corrective Services has a rigorous contract and performance monitoring system to manage privately operated prisons," he said. "The performance of private operators is monitored daily and they can be abated for not meeting contractual obligations." However Mr Welch said Serco's perceived "low staffing levels" continued to be used as a means to justify the claim private prisons were cheaper to run than the public sector. "In the private sector, we have grave concerns that the lower staffing levels impact not only prison officers' and prisoner safety, but it also impacts on prison officers' ability to have positive interactions with prisoners which are necessary to maintain trust and stability within the prison," he said. "The more stressed and busy the staff are, the more it impacts on the quality of what's delivered. We're not suggesting Acacia doesn't deliver some good outcomes for prisoners, but staff are being affected by the stress of always operating at maximum capacity, and so are prisoners." But Serco denied the Acacia facility was currently short-staffed. "There is no single officer-to-prisoner ratio as Acacia runs a dynamic security model with staffing to meet the needs of the cohort and facility on a daily basis. It is not short-staffed," a spokesman said. Serco referenced the Department of Corrective Services 2015/2016 annual report in order to reject claims there had been more recorded problems in its private facility in comparison to other state-run prisons. "The union claims are not borne out in fact. Over the past 12 months the rate of staff assaults from prisoners at Acacia is 1.35 per 100 prisoners. "In the 2015/16 year the level of assaults in WA public prisons was 1.5 per 100 prisoners." In a December 2016 report, the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan outlined a number of overcrowding issues with the Acacia facility. It was found that only 536 beds and cells at the facility met the Australasian Standard Guidelines, despite a population of 1468 prisoners. Acacia is still crowded in many units through double-bunking, despite a significant expansion made in 2014 Access to the oval and gymnasium was further restricted since the expansion, especially for protection prisoners, although efforts are being made to install more unit based activities Dental and mental health services proved insufficient for the population. The detention unit was not expanded, affecting punishment and other regimes. Some other services are insufficiently resourced for the population, including the Aboriginal Visitors Scheme and Outcare (which has the re-entry contract). However overall, the report also said Serco continued to fulfil its obligation to the State Government. "Serco do have a very strong sense of what is required and a proven capacity for innovation. Importantly, they have also demonstrated a strong professional commitment to the prison that has certainly not been driven by profit alone," Mr Morgan said.

January 15, 2010 West Australian
Confiscated contraband which could include weapons, drugs and pornography is missing inside WA's biggest men's jail, prompting an internal investigation into the security breach. The Department of Corrective Services confirmed the contraband was found to be missing at privately-run Acacia Prison last week and that some had not been recovered. Corrective Services security director Simon Kincart said the department was confident the contraband, which was taken from a storage cabinet, would be found soon. The department refused to say what the contraband was and would not answer questions about whether prisoners or staff were suspects or whether the cabinet had been left unlocked. "Internal investigations are continuing and I'm not prepared to make any further comment which may risk compromising prison operations," Mr Kincart said. Shadow corrective services minister Paul Papalia said the incident was a serious security breach and highlighted the pressures from chronic overcrowding in WA jails. Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter said he was aware of the situation at Acacia and the department was investigating the matter. Serco Australia, which runs the jail, said it had nothing to add to the department's statement.

December 29, 2009 The Western Australian
A violent prisoner who assaulted four jail staff and was involved in a dozen other aggressive outbursts was allowed to stay in the general medium-security prison population, leaked emails from Acacia Prison reveal. The confidential emails from concerned workers to management claimed staff shortages were partly to blame for the unsafe working environment. The emails, obtained by  "The West Australian", said management should have put the violent prisoner on a close supervision order or under a specialist management regime. The staff indicated in some of the emails, written between September and this month, that individualised attention was increasingly difficult as staff were struggling with heavy workloads at the overcrowded jail. There is one less staff member now compared with when the prison had 150 fewer inmates. The staff said there had been 22 staff recruits since the additional inmates, but 23 had left or were on long-term leave. The emails said the violent prisoner's 16 aggressive incidents included him groping the jail's female chaplain. "We are all aware that we work in a prison, but allowing one prisoner to perpetrate four assaults in six months and still stay medium security needs to be addressed," a worker wrote. The staff claim that managers from Serco Australia, which could not be contacted yesterday, told them they wanted to keep the prisoner in the mainstream jail population to "normalise" him before he was moved to a country facility. Another guard said in an email that a lone female guard had to supervise 150 inmates during outdoor activity. The guard was concerned at the big number of prisoners and feared for her safety because the group included a prisoner who had continually threatened to rape and kill her. "Incidents of a threatening/confronting nature have resulted in staff securing themselves rather than controlling situations," the guard wrote. "Recent incidents reflect the sentiment of prisoners who are fully aware of the staff's lack of ability to contain the prisoners here in an emergency situation." Shadow corrective services minister Paul Papalia said it was important to discuss the problems because Serco Australia was likely to be considered for new jail contracts. Mr Papalia said staff shortages meant the prison was not achieving the number of organised activities required under its contract. The Community and Public Sector Union said there were continuing concerns about staff safety as prison populations increased, causing tensions in sleeping quarters and in places such as the kitchen and gym. Attorney-General Christian Porter said yesterday it was difficult to verify the accuracy of the staff claims but said: "I have asked the Department of Corrective Services to check each of these allegations thoroughly to see if they can be verified."

November 26, 2004 The West Australian
A drug dealer is suing the company that runs WA's only private prison over an injury he sustained while working in the prison workshop. Pasquale "Peter" Mancini has twice been operated on at Hollywood Private Hospital while serving a 10 1/2-year jail term resulting from police operations that netted big amounts of heroin, cocaine and speed. He launched legal proceedings against Australian Integration Management Services this month over the rupturing of his pectoral muscle. His writ alleges he was exposed to danger while working as the leading hand at the Acacia Prison workshop and wasn't given prompt medical treatment, exacerbating the injury. He claims AIMS failed to maintain a safe system of work, required him to lift boards alone, and did not provide mechanical or other assistance.

April 7, 2004
GUARDS at privately run Acacia Prison in Wooroloo remained on strike last night in a stand-off with prison management over the guards' claim of dangerously low numbers of staff and the suspension of a union delegate. About 100 guards on strike claim that Australian Integration Management Services does not put enough staff on each shift to ensure safe working conditions. The union wants at least 32 guards on a shift to supervise about 740 inmates.  Spokesmen for the company did not return phone calls yesterday.  The strike began on Monday when the company suspended a union delegate who had called an Acacia Joint Unions meeting, then escorted from the jail about 40 guards at the meeting and locked them out. Jail guards on the next shift voted not to work.  Community and Public Sector Union branch secretary Toni Walkington said the union wanted the suspended delegate reinstated and an opportunity to discuss staffing and other issues with management. "They just don't appear to be prepared to sit down and discuss in a meaningful way," she said. Before the strike, guards had met at the start of each shift to make sure there were enough staff on it. "Basically, Acacia has paid less than rates payable in public prisons and staffing levels have not met the same standards and we have tried bargaining processes and a whole range of different avenues to meet what are adequate standards, not necessarily the same as public standards, but adequate standards," Ms Walkington said. "We have managed mostly to be able to talk that through but what has become evident is that Acacia need to make savings in their operations.  "Basically, we think that they can't return a profit as a privately operating prison so they're just squeezing their workforce to make the difference between a profitable operation and an operation running at a loss."  The jail was being run by a skeleton staff, mainly of management.  "Without a doubt, the normal activities of the prison cannot occur at the moment so prisoners will have to be spending most of their time locked up in the cells," she said. "There will be no programs addressing issues of why people first offended, no education, their activities, rehabilitation programs won't be happening."  (The West.com)

April 6, 2004
The union representing prison officers at the Acacia Prison east of Perth says workers will continue to press their claim for increased staffing levels.  The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union says officer numbers at the private prison are simply inadequate.  (ABC.net)

October 4, 2000
The Victorian Government has taken control of one of its prisons away from CCA claiming it failed to act on security issues. However, CCA has the contract to run West Australia's new Acacia at Wooroloo. Labor's spokesman for justice, Jim McGinty, says the situation will have to be closely monitored.

Arthur Gorrie Correctional Center
Wacol, Australia
GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections)
Jul 8, 2017 dailymail.co.uk
High-security Queensland prison enters second day of lockdown amid claims of overcrowding, drugs and prisoner violence
A Queensland high security prison remains in lockdown after correctives officers were refused entry by the facility's state government-employed operators. Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre in Brisbane's southeast went into lockdown at 6am on Friday over an industrial relations dispute. The lockdown started when 40 corrections officers were refused entry to the establishment after a long-running dispute over work conditions. It comes amid ongoing enterprise bargaining negotiations between staff and the state government contracted GEO Group. United Voice spokesman Damien Davie said GEO Group had formally notified union members the staff lockout would continue on Saturday, reported Sky News. Mr Davie said prison staff had called on the company to boost staff numbers to deal with overcrowding. 'There's currently one officer to between 36 and 40 (inmates), and sometimes as bad as one to 62. There should be two on the floor at all times.' He said staff shortages had led to assaults on officers, prisoner violence, drugs in the prison going undetected and prisoner behaviour not being properly addressed. A spokesman for Queensland Corrective Services said it would not seek to interfere or influence EBA negotiations. 'In the event of industrial action, GEO is responsible to ensure the safe and secure operation of the facility,' said in a statement. Responding to concerns that staff and inmate safety would be put at greater risk once the lockdown was lifted, GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis said on Friday they planned to cool heightened tensions among inmates with icecream.  'I don't know what (the prison manager) will do when he lifts it ... we can go out and buy them ice creams or something like that for their dessert,' Mr Davis said.  A correctional officer at the centre said it currently housed around 1200 inmates, despite having a single bed capacity for 890 men with a maximum security wing for up to 18 inmates. 'In the last couple of months we've had an officer knocked unconscious,' he said. The officer told AAP the flow of undetected drugs had also risen, the most common being Subutex, generally used to treat opioid addiction but abused by inmates. He also said requests to double staff numbers and address a culture of bullying had been ignored. 'There is a culture of bullying from management and it comes down through the supervisors,' he said. 'They just don't seem to want to hear about it. They, I believe, are more concerned about their profits.' GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis declined to provide the current officer to inmate ratio, referred questions about staffing to the state government and denied bullying claims. He said only two reports of bullying had been made in the 2016/17 financial year and that both were found to be unsubstantiated. Mr Davis also denied Mr Davie's claims staff assaults were under-reported and said additional officers were brought on when the prison was over-crowded.

Jul 7, 2017 dailymail.co.uk
That should help them chill out! Security says it will give ICECREAM to angry inmates at locked down high security prison
A company employed by the Queensland government to manage a high-security prison in lockdown over an industrial relations dispute says it will cool heightened-tensions among inmates with ice cream. The Arthur Gorrie Correction Centre in Brisbane's southeast went into lockdown about 6am on Friday when 40 corrections officers were refused entry due to a long-running dispute over work conditions. It comes amid ongoing enterprise bargaining negotiations between staff and the state government contracted GEO Group. Responding to concerns that staff and inmate safety would be put at greater risk once the lockdown was lifted, GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis said the prison's general manager would buy prisoners ice cream. 'I don't know what (the prison manager) will do when he lifts it ... we can go out and buy them ice creams or something like that for their dessert,' Mr Davis said. United Voice spokesman Damien Davie said staff had called on the company to boost staff numbers to deal with overcrowding. 'There's currently one officer to between 36 and 40 (inmates), and sometimes as bad as one to 62. There should be two on the floor at all times. 'That is leading to assaults on our members, it's leading to prisoner violence, drugs in the prison going undetected, prisoner behaviour not being corrected, just sheerly due to the lack of boots on the ground.' A correctional officer at the centre said it currently housed around 1200 inmates, despite having a single bed capacity for 890 men with a maximum security wing for up to 18 inmates. 'In the last couple of months we've had an officer knocked unconscious,' he said. The officer told AAP the flow of undetected drugs had also risen, the most common being Subutex, generally used to treat opioid addiction but abused by inmates. He also said requests to double staff numbers and address a culture of bullying had been ignored. 'There is a culture of bullying from management and it comes down through the supervisors,' he said. 'They just don't seem to want to hear about it. They, I believe, are more concerned about their profits.' GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis declined to provide the current officer to inmate ratio, referred questions about staffing to the state government and denied bullying claims. He said only two reports of bullying had been made in the 2016/17 financial year and that both were found to be unsubstantiated. Mr Davis also denied Mr Davie's claims staff assaults were under-reported and said additional officers were brought on when the prison was over-crowded. A spokesman for Queensland Corrective Services said it would not seek to interfere or influence EBA negotiations. 'In the event of industrial action, GEO is responsible to ensure the safe and secure operation of the facility,' said in a statement. 

Jun 25, 2017 ouriermail.com.au
Raw sewage dumped behind Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre after jail sewage pump failure
A TRUCK shipped sewage out of a Brisbane jail for weeks after a pump “mechanical failure” in one of the cell blocks. The Courier-Mail has been told the truck dumped the waste near railway lines behind Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre after the breakdown in “Whiskey Block”. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection was notified. “A sewage truck pumped out tanks every two hours and dumps raw sewage,” a prison source said, claiming it was at risk of flowing into the nearby creek. “In one of the prisoner blocks the sewerage system has been broken for months.” The Arthur Gorrie Correctional centre in Wacol. The waste was reportedly dumped near the railway line behind the jail. The truck was used to pick up the waste and dump it for up to 12 hours a day for weeks before a pump was fixed this month. A Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman confirmed there was a mechanical failure of a sewage pump. Questions about costs, how much was transported and if environmental reports were gathered were not answered. The jail is run privately by GEO Group but the Department of Public Works looks after facilities. “The pump was repaired as quickly as possible,” the QCS spokeswoman said. “For a period of time sewage was transported off site. We are not aware of any effluent spillage.” The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection was advised the sewage pump station overflow released an unknown amount of untreated wastewater to land, a day after it happened in April. “The Department of Housing and Public Works reported that the contaminant had been contained on-site and was not released to the receiving environment,” a spokesman said. “Appropriate steps were taken to isolate and clean the area.” The jail’s management also engaged environmental consultants to help with the clean up. “The potential for environmental harm was low and no further compliance action is required at this stage,” the spokesman said. It comes as 10-year contracts for Arthur Gorrie and Southern Queensland jails are about to end. The Courier-Mail has been told they are likely to get a one-year extension – without it necessarily being put out to tender. A spokeswoman said “commercial in-confidence applies to all government contracts”. “QCS strictly adheres to all guidelines around the conclusion of contracts and the tendering process.”

Aug 14, 2014 brisbanetimes.com

A prison officer at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre has been stood down after she publicly raised concerns about resources and over-crowding at the Wacol prison. United Voice union delegate Kylie Muscat on Tuesday went public with her concerns following the assault of a fellow prison officer on Friday morning. She said overcrowding, under-resourcing and a prisoners' smoking ban had made conditions for prison staff unsafe. The story was first published by Fairfax Media about 1.30pm on Tuesday. United Voice prisons co-ordinator Michael Clifford said within a few hours of that story appearing online Ms Muscat had been suspended on full pay. “She’s pretty devastated, but she’s also a very courageous union delegate who knows what she’s doing is the right thing,” he said. Management of the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre has been outsourced to the Sydney-based GEO Group since 1992. A spokesman for GEO said the only comment the company would make was that Ms Muscat had been “suspended for breaching company policy”. Mr Clifford said Ms Muscat had been suspended as an act of “pure intimidation”. “This is an employer who should be addressing the safety issues that Kylie is raising. Instead of addressing the safety issues, they’re attacking the person that’s trying to have them addressed,” he said. “This is just about intimidating people into silence. “There’s a lot of talk in this country about free speech, but there’s a lot of employers who think free speech stops the minute you walk inside the workplace, that you don’t have a right to raise these sorts of issues.” Mr Clifford said Ms Muscat’s actions were protected under the Fair Work Act section 346, which protects people involved in industrial activity from “adverse action”. “She is a union delegate – she can and should raise safety issues and, if they’re not being addressed, she should do whatever it takes to make sure they are addressed and that’s what she was doing,” he said. “…Kylie was fulfilling her role as a union delegate and not talking as an employee of Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. “Under the Fair Work Act, union delegates have rights to pursue the industrial interests of their members without any adverse action from employers. “So, our union will be writing to GEO today. They can expect a letter from our lawyers identifying that we believe they are in breach of those provisions of the act and we’ll be asking them to cease any action they’re taking against Kylie.” The GEO spokesman would not comment on United Voice’s claim the move breached the Fair Work Act. Mr Clifford said the union would back Ms Muscat “100 per cent of the way”. “It’s not just Kylie,” he said. “All union delegates and members know that they have the right to speak up about safety issues in the workplace, particularly when those safety issues are life threatening.”


November 24, 2013 heraldsun.com.au

YEARS in US and Thai jails, a book published about his drug smuggling exploits - resumes don't come much more colourful than Phil Sparrowhawk's. Yet when he applied for a job at Brisbane's Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, nobody bothered to ask about his dark international past. Sparrowhawk, who managed to humiliate prison authorities by working undetected under their noses for three years, revealed yesterday just how easily he pulled off the extraordinary security breach. And in another damning twist, The Sunday Mail can reveal the prison management's claim on Friday that Sparrowhawk worked only as an administration clerk and had no prisoner contact was wrong. Yesterday the red-faced jail was forced to admit Sparrowhawk interviewed incoming prisoners daily and held roles which allowed him to access all prisoners' files and records. In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail, Philip Sparrowhawk has revealed how he even worked with prisoners as a corrective services officer inside the jail. Sparrowhawk, the subject of a Random House book, Grass, about his former international drug smuggling lifestyle, says nobody at the jail ever asked him any questions about his past. Although prison managers GEO on Friday claimed Sparrowhawk only worked as an administration clerk, with no prisoner contact, it has now confirmed he had daily contact with prisoners. GEO spokesman Ken Davis said yesterday Sparrowhawk was an administration clerk, but also worked in sentence management administration and as a prisoner classification specialist. The jobs allowed him access to all prisoners' files and computer records and he interviewed incoming prisoners. Mr Davis said once the prison became aware of internet stories about him being a drug smuggler and ex-prisoner, checks revealed no evidence he was involved with drugs in jail. "I do deny I was a drug smuggler. I was never convicted of anything,'' Sparrowhawk says. "If you are asked have you ever killed anybody you don't say 'yes I have', you say 'I've never been convicted of it'.'' Sparrowhawk, who worked in Arthur Gorrie from March, 2010, was suspended in September and sacked three weeks ago, says he had nothing to do with drugs inside the jail. When asked why he wanted to work in a Queensland jail after having been in overseas prisons he says he just wanted a job and he loved the work. "I never abused my position at GEO," he said. "I took every available course and test available … and passed all requirements'' Sparrowhawk says he was arrested in Thailand, held in jails there and then extradited to the US where he was charged with racketeering as part of a criminal organisation. After five years of being moved between more than 40 jails, he says the charge was dropped. Sparrowhawk claims there are "a lot of people working at Arthur Gorrie who are involved with a criminal organisation''. Speaking about how he got his prison job so easily he said: "You fill out an application form and I answered it truthfully''. Sparrowhawk is cagey when questioned about the book, which claims he was a large-scale cannabis dealer from Thailand who was targeted by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. He says the book, which has his name on the cover, was written by others and any money he received he donated to charity. Former UK drug lord and convicted racketeer Howard Marks, known as Mr Nice, who is a friend of Sparrowhawk, referred to him on the book cover as "Mr Big''. Sparrowhawk hints at having been involved with British secret intelligence service MI6, as does Marks. When asked about it he says: "I've worked for a lot of people and I've signed a lot of these official secret acts for a lot of different countries.'' Sparrowhawk says he has left Australia and is about to take up a consultancy for a security agency in Vienna.

March 11, 2010 ABC
Queensland's Indigenous community will march on State Parliament today, enraged over the circumstances surrounding a recent death in custody. An 18-year-old prisoner died late last month and there are claims Brisbane jail staff denied him adequate medical treatment even though he was too sick to walk. Today's march coincides with the reopened inquest into the controversial Palm Island death in custody. Prison chaplain Reverend Alex Gator says inmates at the Arthur Gorrie correctional centre called her with news of the latest tragedy last month. "This young youth, only 18 years of age, he had spent five weeks on remand and then the five weeks he was at Arthur Gorrie he became ill, so he was ill for six days," she said. "The first time he'd gone to the medical centre he was given Panadol, other times he'd gone he was told that there was nothing wrong with him. So he was repeatedly denied medical assistance. "Towards the end the boys had to carry him, the Murri boys in his unit had to carry him, because he could hardly walk. "They nearly caused a riot, the Murri boys. They yelled out to the officer, 'get him to the hospital' because something was wrong with him. "And one officer made the comment, 'Well if he can go to the toilet, there's nothing wrong with him'." Reverend Gator says the teenager was ultimately rushed to hospital and put on life support. But he died a few days later on February 20. "I conducted a memorial service. The boys said they only saw him a couple of weeks ago talking, laughing, joking and next thing they hear this young man is dead," she said. Reverend Gator says the teenager should never have been put in jail because he had a serious pre-existing medical condition. "That is the question we're asking - why? Why was he in prison, not in hospital? I mean he wasn't a terrorist, a paedophile, rapist or a murderer," she said. "He was in there for a misdemeanour. And as far as I'm concerned, it's just racial discrimination towards Aboriginal people. This is about racial hatred attitudes towards Aboriginal people. "They're deliberately turned away and told there's nothing wrong with them. And Corrective Services have failed in their duty of care to provide a service to this young man." 'Could have been avoided' -- Brisbane Indigenous community leader Sam Watson says news of the death in custody has spread like wildfire. "We are very concerned about this because this appears to be yet another Aboriginal death in custody that could have been avoided, that should have been avoided," he said. Queensland Corrective Services has issued a written statement saying "there are no suspicious causes" in the teenager's death. The statement adds that all deaths in custody are referred to the coroner and to the chief inspector of prisons for investigation. But Mr Watson says the Indigenous community is calling on the Queensland Government to instigate a full coronial inquest. "There have to be a lot of questions answered. We want to get to the bottom of this and we want to do it very, very quickly," he said.

June 1, 2008 Courier Mail
A CAREER criminal on remand for assault was accidentally released from a privately run Brisbane jail last week. Three prison staff have been suspended over the security bungle at the Arthur Gorrie correctional centre at Wacol in Brisbane's west. Prison sources said the breach occurred when staff were processing the inmate for release into police custody. Police had been granted a court order to remove the inmate on Tuesday in relation to a break-and-enter investigation. However, prison staff discharged the inmate for release and gave him his property. Police arrived to collect him from a high-security area at the rear of the jail, which is used for transferring inmates, but they were directed to the reception area. Queensland Corrective Services denied the man was wrongfully discharged, saying the jail's operator, the GEO Group Australia, had reported there had been a "breach of internal security procedures". She said at no time was the inmate, who has since been returned to the jail, not in prison or police custody. She confirmed jail management suspended three staff as a result of an internal report on the incident and an investigation was under way. State Opposition prisons spokesman Vaughan Johnson demanded a full investigation into the incident, saying the jail had mismanaged the custodial process.

January 19, 2008 ABC
Prison guards who walked off the job at Queensland's biggest remand centre yesterday are now back at work. Brisbane's Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre had been locked down since Friday afternoon, with only a skeleton management team running the centre and police patrolling the perimetre. The guards began their strike after being ordered to stop handcuffing prisonners with their hands behind their backs. The remand facility operators, Geo, had requested a hearing before the Industrial Relations Commission this morning, but Geo spokesman Pierre Langford says Geo and the Miscellaneous Workers Union representing the guards will instead continue their talks on Monday. "I suppose I would like to say on behalf of Geo Group Australia that we appreciate the assistance that the commission has provided us with today," he said. "At this point in time the parties have agreed to get back together early next week, to have further discussions and our employees have returned to work today, so we're pleased with that."

October 25, 2006 Townsville Bulletin
A TENDER for the state's two privately-run prisons is not a criticism of the current operators, the Queensland Government said today. Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence said new tenders to run Borallon and Arthur Gorrie correctional centres, valued at a total of $200 million, would ensure taxpayers got value for money. "It is not about the performance of the current operators,'' Ms Spence said. The Arthur Gorrie jail has been under fire in recent years over a number of deaths in custody, security failures and assaults on prisoners by staff. Borallon made headlines four years ago when a report showed it had the highest rate of illicit drug use in the state, with almost one in three prisoners using drugs. Four companies will be invited to tender: GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, GSL Australia Pty Ltd, Management and Training Corporation Pty Ltd and Serco Australia Pty Ltd. GEO currently operates Arthur Gorrie, and Management and Training Corporation operates Borallon. Ms Spence said the contracts would be for five years, with an option for Queensland Corrective Services to extend them for a further five years. The tenders will be evaluated in the first half of next year with new contracts to start on January 1, 2008. An independent probity auditor has been contracted to oversee the entire project.

November 30, 2005 Australian
THE bonus and penalty system on which private prisons in Australia are run has been accused of encouraging operators to cover up riots and drug abuse by prisoners. Queensland Prison Officers Association secretary Brian Newman yesterday accused private prison operators of covering up incidents in their facilities that could threaten performance bonuses worth up to $500,000 a year. "Nine years ago I worked at Arthur Gorrie (Correctional Centre at Wacol, west of Brisbane) and I would make drug finds but the drugs would be flushed down the toilet in front of me by senior officials," Mr Newman said. "You were powerless to do anything about it. "Anecdotal evidence given to me is that it still goes on today. There is no incentive for privately run prisons to report incidents." The management contract of Arthur Gorrie operator, the GEO Group, formerly known as Australasian Correctional Management, with the Queensland Government provides a $500,000 performance bonus to prevent crime, drug abuse and riots. The Arthur Gorrie contract, a copy of which has been obtained by The Australian, says the $500,000 bonus will be reduced by $100,000 for each escape, "loss of control (riot)" or death in custody. Penalties of $25,000 are also imposed for a string of problems such as discharging a prisoner in error, assaults by prisoners resulting in injury or a case of self-harm or attempted suicide. Other incidents that incur the $25,000 penalty include serious industrial injuries, deliberately lit fires, major security breaches such as attempted escapes or hostage-taking and loss of high-risk restricted articles. If random urine tests disclose that drug use in the prison is higher than 9 per cent and does not reduce towards the target of 4per cent, the penalty applicable is also $25,000. The bonuses and penalty provisions are the same for the contracts the GEO Group, the Australian subsidiary of the Miami-based Wackenhut, has with the Victorian and NSW governments to run the Melbourne Custody Centre and the Fulham and Junee prisons. Mr Newman said his association had asked the Queensland Government to conduct an inquiry into allegations by staff at Arthur Gorrie that "incidents" had been covered up "to avoid financial penalty to breach of contract". GEO Group is paid almost $800 a week for each of the 710 prisoners housed at Arthur Gorrie. A spokesman for Queensland Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence yesterday confirmed that contracts for privately run prisons did provide for performance bonuses. "However, we are not able to confirm amounts or any details on payments or deductions regarding the bonuses as these matters are commercial in confidence," he said. Col Kelaher, GEO Group executive manager of operations, said he could not comment on the contract with the Government.

January 26, 2005 South-West News
WORKERS at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre at Wacol staged a strike from noon Friday to 5pm on Saturday over a wages and conditions dispute. The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union accused correctional centre owners GEO Group of not meeting its obligations under the Queensland Industrial Relations Act. Union prisons organiser David Pullen said the centre's 700 prisoners were locked down in cells during the strike. GEO group managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said the action ended after an IRC officer recommended a return to work.

December 24, 2004 Courier Mail
QUEENSLAND'S prisons are overcrowded and urgently require more funding to stop the growing number of inmate deaths, a report by a state coroner has found.
The findings came at the end of an inquiry into the suicide of prisoner William Mark Bailey in November 2002 at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre. Deputy state coroner Christine Clements found no one else was responsible for Bailey's death and recommended no further action. Arthur Gorrie, a remand and reception centre that temporarily holds prisoners awaiting court hearings, can hold up to 800 people. It is managed by GEO Group Australia but owned by the Queensland Corrective Services department. "Evidence was given that there are 250 cells at Arthur Gorrie but at the time of the inquest there were 750 prisoners being held at the facility," Ms Clements said.

October 28, 2003
SEVERAL serious security flaws have been uncovered at Brisbane's privately run Arthur Gorrie prison, which houses Queensland's most notorious inmate, Postcard Bandit Brendan Abbott.  An internal report conducted after an assault on a prisoner in the jail's maximum security unit found major deficiencies including prison doors jamming and staff being unaware for up to 90 seconds that doors were open.  The revelations will put further pressure on jail operator Australasian Correctional Management, a subsidiary of US giant Wackenhut.  Corrective Services Minister Tony McGrady put the company on notice that it might lose its contract after staff failed to report the alleged assault within the required time.  The assault led to the resignation of the prison's general manager, the suspension of four maximum security unit prison officers and a correctional manager being stood down.  The jail houses some of the state's most dangerous prisoners including convicted killer Jason Nixon.  An internal investigation was launched at the jail after Mr McGrady found out about the incident through The Courier-Mail and issued ACM with a non-compliance notice.  Mr McGrady is yet to view the report of the investigation, which has been obtained by The Courier-Mail.  The report was prompted by an alleged assault on serial rapist Troy Burley on October 11 in the MSU of the Arthur Gorrie Remand and Reception Centre after a bungle enabled an inmate to get through a door in the exercise yard to a common area and bash him.  The report found: • The doors in the exercise yard tended to bounce away from the magnetic hold and were not constructed specifically for the electronic security system. •  Electronic failure did not contribute to the alleged attack on Burley and a prison officer had not waited for confirmation a door had closed. •  The closed-circuit television which monitors prisoners was obsolete and inadequate for a such a high-risk area. • The practice for prisoners to open doors under intercom direction from staff had led to an "undue familiarity". Prison sources said the intercom system was used because there was not enough staff in the MSU.  "The crims are escorted at all times for the first few weeks they are in the MSU, after that they can buzz the main controllers to get in and out of their cells," a prison source said.  The internal report recommended the four officers in the MSU be disciplined over the Burley incident, console operation training be reviewed and the surveillance and electronic security door control be upgraded.  The breach at the jail came three days after inmate Mark Day was killed in the exercise yard at the nearby Sir David Longland jail's MSU.  State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg accused Mr McGrady of double standards for not taking action against staff at Sir David Longland over Day's murder.  "Mr McGrady jumped up and down demanding answers from Arthur Gorrie. We didn't see that when a prisoner was murdered in a state-run prison," Mr Springborg said.  The Queensland Prison Officers Association said the report's findings showed ACM was more interested in profit and cost-cutting than rehabilitation of prisoners.  "It's an example of human warehousing – locking criminals away and moving them around by remote control rather than them having one-on-one interaction with prison officers," spokesman Brian Newman said.  (The Courier-Mail)

October 23, 2003
A QUEENSLAND private jail being investigated over security failures is again under scrutiny over an alleged assault.  A Department of Corrective Services spokesman said today an investigation was under way into a maximum security prisoner's claim that he was assaulted by staff while being handcuffed.  Operators of the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, Australasian Correctional Management, were issued with a non-compliance notice after they failed to notify authorities of an alleged assault between two prisoners in the maximum security unit last week.  (News.com.au)

October 14, 2003
STATE Prisons Minister Tony McGrady has put a Brisbane jail on notice and warned its private operators they may lose their contract after the company failed to report an assault on an inmate in a maximum security unit.  The attack in the Arthur Gorrie Remand and Reception Centre at Wacol on serial rapist Troy Burley last Friday follows the murder of an inmate in a similar unit at a nearby state-run jail.  It also emerged last night the attack on 28-year-old Burley was the second major security breach in the jail's MSU since July.  The first breach also involved Burley. The second incident happened when a staff bungle enabled an inmate to get through three doors into the common area and bash Burley.  The most dangerous prisoners are housed in Queensland's two maximum security units. They are allowed to move outside their cells only while handcuffed and under escort.  An angry Mr McGrady last night served a non-compliance notice on Australasian Correctional Management after he learnt of the assault through The Courier-Mail.  "Indeed, had they been issued with a prior non-compliance notice, termination of the contract would have been a likely outcome today," he said.  ACM has seven days to respond to the Corrective Services Department with a new MSU strategy.  Mr McGrady declined to comment on whether he was still confident of their ability to operate the jail.  (The Courier-Mail)

January 13, 2003
GUARDS at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre fear the maximum security prison could be severely under-staffed for up to 48 hours, placing staff and prisoners ar risk.  About 300 prison officers are expected to walk off for 24 hours after meeting today about failed negotiations on an enterprise bargaining agreement.  Their union expects Australasian Correctional Management, which operates the prison, to retaliate by locking out the guards for another 24 hours.  Prison officers have made a claim for a 7.5 percent, or $52-a-week, pay rise.  ACM has offered 1 percent less than the CPI, or 2 percent, whichever is greater.  

February 12, 2003
Prison guards at Brisbane 's
privately-run maximum security Arthur Gorrie jail will walk off the job for a three-day strike from Sunday, in an attempt to force a pay rise.  The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) warned the dispute would continue until the jail's employer, Australasian Correctional Management, matched the guards' pay to that of public sector prison employees.  "The wages of private prison officers are already behind those of public sector officers, therefore if we accept any less we will forever and a day be going backwards," LHMU Queensland secretary Ron Monaghan said.  Mr Monaghan warned the prison operator not to use untrained staff to do the guards' work during the upcoming strike - the third in as many weeks.  "It's a maximum security reception and remand centre so you have all sorts including hardened criminals - it can be volatile," Mr Monaghan said. (AAP Newsfeed)

Auckland Central Remand Prison
New Zealand
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
July 19, 2005 Stuff
An inmate in Auckland's former private prison who stowed away in a shipping container to depart New Zealand should be sent back here to face rape charges, says a Fiji court.  The Suva Magistrate's Court recommended that Shumendra Nilesh Chandra, 30, a computer operator, of Auckland be sent back to New Zealand.   Australasian Correctional Management, which managed Auckland Central Remand Prison until its contract expired recently, had to pay the Government $50,000 for the escape, under the terms of its contract.  The company said at the time that its investigation into how Chandra allegedly slipped his handcuffs and fled guards was unable to find out how he did it.

July 13, 2005 Scoop
The return today of New Zealand's only privately run prison to public sector management is an opportunity for the Corrections Department to prove it can deliver a first-class service, Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos says. The Department took over management of Auckland Central Remand Prison from the GEO Group at midnight last night. "The Green Party welcomes the handover today of the management of the Auckland Central Remand Prison to the public sector," Nandor says. "I call on new Corrections Department CEO Barry Matthews to use this as an opportunity to deliver best prison practice. There is no reason why the public sector can't provide a better service than the private and now is the time for Mr Matthews to demonstrate this. "International experience shows widespread abuse and poor conditions in many privately run prisons. ACRP was clearly a loss leader designed to be a foot in the door for the private prison conglomerates. It is extremely unlikely that any further private prisons here would all be run as well as ACRP was by Mr Karauria and his team. "But the principle issue is that prisons must be run by the public sector. As one of the most tangible manifestations of state power, they must be fully accountable to the people of New Zealand. A profit-driven service is ultimately only accountable to its overseas shareholders.
  "There have been some clear cases of this lack of accountability in Australia. For example ACM, the predecessor to Geo, placed a contractual obligation upon some of their staff to not provide information to the judiciary, which would have the effect of inhibiting the investigation of abuse and mismanagement. "It must also be remembered that private prisons can have a corrupting influence on the political system, in that they create a profit motive to the lobby for longer custodial sentences. "The Green Party have taken a number of steps to increase accountability in the public sector through changes to the Corrections Act and a written commitment to the establishment of an independent prison inspectorate from the Labour-led Government," Nandor says.

July 13, 2005 Scoop
The Public Service Association (PSA) is welcoming the return of the Auckland Central Remand Prison to the public prisons service. The Public Service Association (PSA) is New Zealand’s largest state sector union, and has a growing membership at the Department of Corrections. The contract between the Department and Australasian Correctional Management Limited to run the remand prison expired overnight. It will now be run by the Department of Corrections. PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott said workers employed by the private prison operator had, in effect, made the operation profitable since they were employed on poorer terms and conditions than the rest of the nation’s prison staff. “Imprisoning people for the crimes they have committed is a core role of the state and it should never be hived off to a private operator for profit. “The ACRP experiment proved that the exercise was a simple cost-cutting exercise of the type imposed across the public sector during the 1990s. “It employed fewer officers per inmate and paid them less than staff employed by Corrections at all the other prisons across the country. “At a time when Corrections is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain quality staff it beggars belief that National would advocate greater use of private prison contracts. More private prisons would inevitably drag down pay and conditions for all prison staff and make recruitment even harder. “National’s advocacy of tougher, longer sentences for a wider range of offences means it must be planning to employ many more prison staff. We have to ask who they think is going to staff them?,” Brenda Pilott said.

July 13, 2005 New Zealand Herald
Prisons run by private companies are not an option, Corrections Minister Paul Swain says.  Opposition parties have said that ending private participation in the prison system is a triumph of ideology over commonsense, but Mr Swain said the simple issue was that private companies should not make profits out of prisoners. However, Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) was well managed before it was handed back to the state today. "In the end, we have a public prison service, a public police force, a public courts system," he said on National Radio. "This is a role the Government or the public should be involved in, not the private sector."

July 12, 2005 Scoop
The GEO Group, holders of the private management contract for the Auckland Central Remand Prison, said today that although they were extremely disappointed that the contract had come to a close they would like to thank all of those people who have supported them during their time in New Zealand.  The contract ends at midnight on July 12.

January 25, 2004
An investigation into how an inmate from Auckland's private prison slipped his handcuff and fled guards has been unable to find out how he did it.  Nilesh Chandra was due to appear in court on sex-related charges, including rape, when he escaped during a hospital visit last May.  He was being escorted by two guards from the Auckland Central Remand Prison.  An internal report by the prison found insufficient evidence to say whether the cuffs were incorrectly applied.  It says the prison would have to examine Chandra's wrist to determine whether the handcuffs were incorrectly applied "or whether some deformity, peculiarity or abnormality in the prisoner's hand/wrist enabled him to slip from the restraint".  Chandra, a Fiji-Indian, later stowed away to Fiji inside a container on a ship and was arrested by police at the port.  New Zealand police are seeking legal advice on his extradition.  Australasian Correctional Management paid the Government $50,000 for the escape, under the terms of its contract to manage the prison.  (NZ Herald)

December 4, 2000
A violent inmate placed a dummy in his bed, changed into new clothes and walked out the front door of the privatetly run prison during visiting hours. The escape is the first from the privately run prison in New Zealand. Under ACM's contract with the Department of Corrections the company must pay $50,000 for every escape. (AAP News Feed)

Australian Federal Government
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011
Duty of Care: Expose by Clare Sambrook on G4S and the death of Aboriginal elder Mr. Ward. June 8, 2011

May 13, 2016 ntnews.com.au
Prison visit sparks privatisation fears
FORMER Corrections Commissioner Ken Middlebrook was seen strolling the grounds of Darwin’s prison in his new role with a US-based company that specialises in running private prisons. Mr Middlebrook’s Tuesday visit with his new employer, Management & Training Corporation, and the fact he once threatened unions with outsourcing work to private contractors, has sparked concerns NT prisons are headed for privatisation. Mr Middlebrook resigned as commissioner following a string of failures — the tipping point being the escape of axe-murdering rapist, Edward Horrell, from a prison work camp in December last year. When asked if the NT Government was looking into the possibility of privatising prisons Corrections Minister John Elferink said: “no”. During a debacle last year that saw two juvenile offenders break out of Don Dale after a rampage causing tens of thousand dollars worth of damage, Mr Middlebrook sent guards from the adult prison over to help safeguard the centre. In an email to a union representative who expressed concerns about the arrangement, he responded by writing: “Should you not be happy with (correctional officers) working along side (youth justice officers) I am willing to consider private sector involvement from G4S, Serco or GEO all of whom have expressed a willingness and eagerness to work with NTDCS”. A spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services told the NT News Mr Middlebrook was not employed by the department. “Mr Middlebrook is employed by the US-based Management and Training Corporation which is looking at new prison designs and operations in Australia, hence their interest in visiting the Darwin Correctional Centre,” the spokesman said. United Voice secretary Erina Early said prisons were an essential service and “no essential service should be privatised”. “Privatisation means prisons would become a business and businesses need to make a profit ... it would adversely affect the conditions of those working in them, the care of the prisoners and the safety of Territorians,” she said. “If the CLP is looking at privatising the prison we’ll ensure Territorians take this to the vote and vote out a government that is continually privatising ... assets and jobs.” Mr Elferink distanced himself from the visit saying: “Access to the Darwin Correctional Centre is at the discretion of the Darwin Correctional Centre operations management”.

Jun 15, 2014 perthnow.com.au
NINETEEN people – including five in WA – have escaped Immigration Department custody this year and remain on the run. And a Vietnamese man who gave his Serco escort the slip at the check-in desk of Perth International Airport last week is one of those still missing. Secrecy surrounds the 36-year-old man’s escape, with Serco refusing to say how many guards were with him, whether he was restrained and how he managed to slip away. The man dodged Serco guards in the check-in area about 9.15am last Saturday, sparking an unsuccessful five-hour search involving Australian Federal Police and WA Police from three stations. The search ended that day, but the man hasn’t been found. Detainees are not handcuffed, but Serco is warned by the department if a particular detainee is considered a flight risk. It is not known if they were warned in this case. Serco would not comment on the incident for “operational and security reasons”. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison would not say what was being done to search for the man, who he described as an “illegal maritime arrival”. “The Department’s compliance team is continuing investigations into the potential whereabouts of the man,” a spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said. “It would not be appropriate to comment on operational matters as this could impact the investigation.” Only eight of the 27 people who have escaped the department’s custody this year have been located. Twelve of the escapes and seven of the recaptures happened in WA. Eight people, mainly Vietnamese nationals, escaped from Yongah Hill Detection Centre in Northam in January, prompting Mr Morrison to call for a review of the centre’s management. The centre is run by Serco. Under its contract with the department, Serco can be penalised for underperformance – including losing a detainee – and potentially lose up to 5 per cent of the value of its contract. Mr Morrison’s office said it would investigate how the man escaped and consider invoking those penalties. It is the latest in a series of costly and embarrassing mistakes by the private contractor, which has a $50 million prisoner transport contract with the State Government, as well as the multibillion–dollar immigration detention centre contract with the Federal Government.


Jan 25, 2014 abc.net.au

The State Opposition has accused the government of trying to cover up its dealings with private contracting firm Serco by not ordering an independent inquiry into its performance in WA. The company, which has a custodial management contract with the State Government and detention centre contracts with the Federal Government, has been criticised for a number of prisoner escapes in recent weeks. The Prison Officers Union, Police Union and WA Labor have all added their voice to calls for an independent inquiry into the company. Opposition spokesman for Corrective Services, Paul Papalia, says news that Serco's Australia Pacific chief executive has also welcomed an independent inquiry, makes the state government look like it has something to hide. "The Barnett Government has apparently signed up to a very poor contract with Serco for the provision of prisoner transport services, and it looks like they are trying to cover up their own failures," Mr Papalia said. "They need to have an open, independent inquiry." The Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis will not be commenting on the issue.


Jan 9, 2014 The West Australian

The boss of WA prisons has admitted weaknesses in the security of prison vans were partly to blame for the escape of a dangerous rapist last week. Cameron John Graham was just weeks into an 11-year sentence for rape when he was permitted to move closer to his family in the north of the State for Christmas. Private prison contractor Serco, which runs WA's prison transport services, was transferring Graham back to Perth last Friday when he and another prisoner, alleged armed robber Kelden Edward Fraser, broke out of a prison van at Geraldton airport. The fugitives stole a car and went on the run for 36 hours, sparking a massive manhunt and a furious public reaction. New Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon said yesterday the reasons for the escape were "procedural and mechanical". Mr McMahon refused to give details, citing security reasons, but said security had been increased since. "I have put directives in place that fix those issues . . . and that is important because I need to know I can transport prisoners securely," Mr McMahon said. _The West Australian _has copies of new directives issued to corrective services staff, which may shed some light on the circumstances of the escape. Assistant Commissioner of Custodial Operations Jon Peach issued a directive on prisoner movements on Monday. "With immediate effect, all prisons are to ensure that, unless in a secure location or for the purposes of providing food, water or emergency assistance, any escort vehicle with prisoners on board shall have all doors closed and locked at all times . . . until such time as the prisoner occupant(s) of the vehicle is physically transferred out of the vehicle," the directive said. Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said he would be addressing the issue of the recapture costs in a meeting with Serco next week.


Jan 5, 2014 PERTHNOW

A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight as Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis was last night trying to contact the rape victim to apologise for the debacle. The shambolic escape also resulted in Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancelling all non-essential prison transfers. Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas. Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton. Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning. The men were taken to Geraldton Police Station and have been returned to Greenough Regional Prison. Police say charges will be laid in "due course" and the pair will appear in Geraldton Magistrates Court later this week. Mr Francis told The Sunday Times that he was "gobsmacked" to learn notorious rapist Cameron John Graham had been flown from Perth to Greenough Regional Prison at taxpayers' expense to be closer to his family for Christmas. In a press conference today, Mr Francis said he understood the van door was unlocked and the prisoners were not handcuffed. He also said he had not yet received a formal briefing on the incident, but that he was certain that would happen this week. The brutal rapist was only a month into his 11-year jail sentence for a crime a judge found "difficult for a reasonable human being to comprehend." Mr Francis said he felt for Graham's victim, who has subsequently left the country following the ordeal. When Graham broke into the woman's home on January 15 last year he threatened to murder her children. He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe. Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400. "I am endeavouring to contact her and keep her informed and say I'm sorry for what happened," he said. "I was gobsmacked when I found out he (Graham) had been flown to Greenough.'' "It wasn't until this happened that I even knew the department moves prisoners around the state to make things easier for their families to visit. "The move for him to go to Geraldton wasn't sanctioned by me as minister or the Commissioner (prisons' boss James McMahon). Clearly the people who made the assessments on this got it wrong. I am led to believe it was some senior prison officers who made the decision. I am trying to find out (who)." Mr Francis denied he had been missing in action yesterday as the fallout from the scandal continued. The Sunday Times understands he was moving house. Earlier, acting-Premier Kim Hames appeared curious earlier in the day about his colleague's whereabouts when he was left to face questions from the media. Dr Hames said: "I don't know where he is. He is not my responsibility." "I don't know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It's up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not." The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer. In a thinly-veiled threat to the contractor, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night: "Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.'' He also said today that if the company were good 'corporate citizens', they would foot the bill of the manhunt. In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.' Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead. "At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community," he said. "We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that." He added: "I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it." Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees. "There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco," he said. "Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety. "I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely." Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month. Mr Papalia said it was "inconceivable" that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison - believed to be Hakea - to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas. Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the "risks were too high''. Mr Papalia said: " Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed. "When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government's support. "In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison - just one month after he was sentenced. "This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco. Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry. "Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,'' Mr Papalia said. Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm. Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him. The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa. Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday. They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet. About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them. Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men. Serco declined to comment.

 

Jun 1, 2013 brisbanetimes.com.au

A whistleblower employee of a security company with a $1.8 billion Australian government contract says its managers routinely underplay risks of guarding asylum seekers and prisoners to cut costs, putting the public at risk. The man who holds a senior position in Serco Asia Pacific, which provides security for immigration detention centres, has leaked in-confidence documents to Fairfax Media detailing how the company misjudged recent operations that led to escapes. “The operational plans are always incomplete and usually just a cut-and-paste job,” said the whistleblower working in the company. “This is what they have been directed to do to save time ... the director calls it generic cost-effective planning.” Documents show that German-born criminal Carlo Konstantin Kohl, who escaped from Bangkok airport two weeks ago, had a history of violence, had been addicted to drugs and was rated as “dangerous” under Aviation Transport Security Regulations. But documents show that two Serco guards, a man and woman, who were assigned to travel with him on commercial flights from Australia to Germany, were given documents telling them he was unlikely to attempt to escape or to “commit an unlawful interference with aviation”. A Thai police investigation found the guards were asleep when Kohl wandered around the airport before escaping through a fire exit door on May 16. He is still on the run in Thailand with a reward for his capture. Documents show that only three Serco staff were assigned to escort 18 Vietnamese detainees from an immigration detention centre in Darwin to church on 28 April, including Van Binh Tran who had been assessed as “medium risk”. Tran and another prisoner, Van Hung Ngyuen, escaped while the guards smoked and talked outside the church during mass, said the whistleblower who asked for anonymity. Despite that escape, only six Serco staff were assigned to guard 28 Vietnamese detainees during an outing from the Darwin immigration centre to a clinic for X-rays when six of them escaped on May 21. “The planning and risk assessments were not done,” the whistleblower said. The whistleblower, who works in the company's transport and escort branch, also claimed that an inadequate security assessment was made for career PNG-born criminal and heroin addict Solomon Baker who fell to his death from a hospital in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool on April 19. Baker, 33, who was being deported to PNG after living in Australia since he was a child, had warned Serco staff at Sydney's Villawood detention centre in 2011 he was prepared to use “any violence required” to avoid being returned to his home country after he had punched a guard 10 times. He attacked two staff at the hospital before he died. The whistleblower said he decided to break the company's strict secrecy rules “in the hope the attention will force Serco to improve and stop thinking about the bottom line and more about the big picture.” “At the moment they are getting a flogging but still don't care about our reputation as long as the money rolls in,” he said. “What is happening is disgraceful and is placing not only our lives at risk but the lives and general safety of the Australian public.” Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said the company was committed to preventing escapes and protecting staff and those in detention from coming to harm. “Our policies and procedures require thorough operational planning to ensure appropriate resourcing and to mitigate risk,” Mr Shaw said. “We take failure to follow operational planning procedures seriously.” Mr Shaw said two staff have been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. A Senate estimates hearing was told on Tuesday there were 25 asylum seekers still at large out of 63 who had escaped immigration detention centres guarded by Serco in the past year. Fairfax Media revealed last month that Serco's contracts with the government had blown out by $1.5 billion as Australia's border protection strains under the weight of increased flows of asylum seekers. The British-based company has operations worldwide, running prisons, immigration detention, hospitals and traffic management, among others. It employs more than 3000 people, providing immigration services in Australia. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said sanctions could apply to Serco if the company did not meet into contractual obligations. “In the absence of more specific detail, however, it would be inappropriate for the department to speculate on this matter,” he said. Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/escapes-blamed-on-serco-costcutting-20130529-2nb0l.html#ixzz2UxtBiJaY

February 1, 2012 The Conversation
Victoria has the among the highest level of inmates imprisoned in privately run jails in the world, alongside the US. The Productivity Commission has just released a report on Government Services 2012 containing a 177 page chapter on corrective services. It found one third of Victorian prisoners were held in private prison cells compared to the national average of 19.2%, and it cost $257 to house a Victorian prisoner per day compared to the national average of $216. For several decades, Victoria has been able to boast the lowest imprisonment rate in Australia, a rate almost half that of New South Wales. But not for long, given the Baillieu government’s “tough on crime" agenda. Reading through the lengthy chapter reporting on the nation’s corrective services, it is difficult to see how the Productivity Commission has assessed the value of corrective services throughout the country. Did the community get “value for money”? Did imprisonment keep the community safe, and did it prevent re-offending? These are the questions most concerned citizens would want to see addressed. What represents value in a prison? The report largely focuses on operational objectives, such as providing a safe, secure and humane environment, and effective “management” of offenders. It speaks of “reducing the risk of reoffending”. These objectives reflect more operational goals of harm minimisation, accepting that imprisonment in its present form can only be effective in “warehousing” offenders, rather than actually bringing about real change. But the most interesting aspect of the report is the fact Victoria has almost twice the proportion of its inmates in private prison cells compared to the rest of the country, and that the private prisons are no cheaper to run than those run by the State authorities. The report fails to report that Victoria most likely has the highest level of prison privatisation compared to any jurisdiction in the world, far higher than the United States. The prison industry Since the privatisation of prisons throughout Australia over the past two decades, it may not be coincidental that the national prison population has increased at almost three times the rate of the national population. In Victoria, the Productivity Report found expenditure on prisons has increased by 18% over the past five years. Clearly the private prison industry, more interested in doing well than doing good, has kept their shareholders very pleased. Their businesses grow when governments seek to incarcerate more of its citizens. It would be in their interests to inflame fear of crime in a community and to encourage state governments towards law and order agendas.

November 7, 2011 ABC News
A Tasmanian Liberal Senator has slammed the sacking of security guards at an immigration detention centre in southern Tasmania. Eric Abetz says 36 people have been dismissed from the Pontville facility, north of Hobart, which is currently housing about 200 male detainees. He says the Federal Government promised the centre would create much needed jobs in the area and it is yet another broken promise. "Tasmanians were promised lots of jobs and that it would be of real benefit to the Tasmanian community." "Today we have witnessed 36 people losing their employment and the Tasmanian people have a right to feel betrayed," he said. Serco, the centre's managers, insist staffing levels are adequate. A spokesman says the security guards were contractors employed on a temporary basis, while surveillance systems were brought online.

October 11, 2011 Canberra Times
The Commonwealth Government is suing its former immigration detention operators for failing to protect it against lawsuits lodged by people kept in detention facilities. The case will be heard in the South Australian Supreme Court on November 21. It is part of a long-running case launched by former asylum-seeker Abdul Amir Hamidi, who won a confidential settlement against the Federal Government after almost five years in detention. As The Canberra Times revealed on Saturday, Mr Hamidi's lawyers predict that the confidential settlement will spark dozens more claims for damages. In a case to be heard on November 21, the Commonwealth will claim its former detention centre operators - GSL and Australasian Correctional Services - breached their contracts by exposing the Government to the legal action. The Commonwealth will argue both companies agreed to indemnify it against damages based on their running of Australian detention centres. Australasian Correctional Services operated Australia's mainland immigration detention facilities until early 2004. Group 4 Falck Global Solutions Pty Ltd (which later changed its name to Global Solutions Limited, or GSL) commenced management of the centres in late 2003. Both companies will fight the claim, with ACS arguing it had insufficient time to respond to the allegations and the terms of its agreement included dispute resolution measures. GSL says it is not responsible for indemnifying the Commonwealth for any ''negligent, wilful, reckless or unlawful acts or omissions of the Commonwealth, its employees, officers or agents''. Between 2000 and March 2010, detainees in Australian immigration detention centres were paid more than $12.3million in compensation for personal injury or unlawful detention.

August 15, 2011 9 News
Queensland's opposition has asked the auditor-general to review the state government's handling of a jail tender it has described as "dodgy". The government announced last month it would temporarily mothball Borallon prison in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and transfer inmates to a new prison near Gatton due to be opened next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed plans to convert the jail into immigration accommodation, however no final decision has yet been made. Security company Serco, which manages Borallon jail, has been awarded the contract to operate the new jail, Southern Queensland Correctional Centre at Spring Creek. The Liberal National Party (LNP) has labelled this a "dodgy deal". LNP corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the party had referred the matter to the auditor-general. The auditor-general's office has confirmed it received the LNP's request but as of Monday morning, it was yet to view the details. Mr Langbroek argues the government did not conduct a proper tendering process. "The way this secret deal between Serco, who currently run the prison at Borallon, and the state government has been handled raises many questions," he said. "Under the normal tendering for service process, the contract for service delivery at the new Gatton prison should have been advertised and put to the market to ensure the best value for money was achieved. "This matter deserves due consideration and that's why I have written to the auditor-general seeking advice on whether this deal is in fact legal and meets the state government's own rules and guidelines."

June 3, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
A SAFETY order was issued to the federal government less than three weeks before riots broke out at the Villawood detention centre, warning that sections of the facility posed a serious safety and security risk. The Improvement Notice issued by Comcare, and tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, also warned the detention centre at the time could not cope with transfers of potentially violent asylum seekers from Christmas Island. It said Villawood had a "lower level" of health and safety and security. It also discovered broken and missing security cameras and found Serco staff did not have proper training to deal with asylum seekers. "There are likely to be significant risk to health and safety associated with the relocation of the Christmas Island detainees to the Villawood IDF," the April 1 report warned. The release of the report came as parliament yesterday voted to begin a joint inquiry into mandatory detention and the Villawood and Christmas Island riots. The Comcare document raised concerns specifically about the transfer of 10 asylum seekers involved in Christmas Island riots to Villawood. But the government claimed that none of the detainees involved in the Christmas Island riots was involved in the riot at Villawood. Those transferred to Villawood were under lock and key at the western Sydney facility's high security Blaxland compound when the riot broke out in a neighbouring compound. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman last night confirmed the Minister was aware of the issues raised by Comcare at the time. "The government only approved the transfer of the clients from Christmas Island after evidence was provided to Comcare that appropriate risk management measures were in place," he said. "These were in place by the allotted deadline, before the transfer occurred and well before the incidents at Villawood." Comcare had ordered the department to take action within three days to begin training staff and to repair the security and the safety breaches. Comcare deputy CEO Steve Kibble this week said that a follow-up investigation on May 24 found it was "generally" satisfied with the Immigration Department's response to fixing the problems. But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that the report should have been a "flashing light" for the government. "(The government) were warned not to proceed but they went ahead anyway," Mr Morrison said. "What disturbs me about this is that a department was forced to cut corners as pressure continued to mount from the government's failed border protection policies. It also shows the significant pressure the network was already under prior to the riots."

May 12, 2011 The Australian
The Gillard government has secretly doubled the fee paid to global prisons contractor Serco, which will now charge taxpayers $712 million to manage the nation's immigration detention network. Government tender records reveal that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship secretly increased the contract price in November last year, barely 11 months after publicly announcing the cost to be $367m. Serco, which manages government prisons in Australia, Britain, the US, Europe and New Zealand, has also been fined several times for breaching contract conditions. The Immigration Department yesterday refused to say how or when Serco had breached its contract, or how much the department had penalised the company by withholding contract payments. "We can't got into detail on the total amount of any fines imposed, as this information is considered commercial-in-confidence," a department spokesman said. "Disclosure of such details has the potential to damage the commercial reputation of the detention services provider. "The contract provides for the contractor to be penalised where it is proven that lax work practices or incompetence have resulted in negligence and contributed to loss and damage of commonwealth assets." During Serco's management, asylum-seekers recently set fire to detention centres on Christmas Island and at Villawood, in Sydney, where they have staged regular rooftop protests and hunger strikes. Nine Chinese nationals escaped from Villawood last year. This week's budget papers reveal that the Gillard government has also granted Serco legal and financial indemnities. Serco is responsible for insuring the Immigration Department against loss and damage, or any personal liability claims arising from its management of detention centres, but the government has agreed that Serco will be liable to pay only $75m, on top of any insurance payouts. "What this means is that in the course of negotiating the contract, the commonwealth has agreed to meet any additional liability beyond $75m in the event of certain circumstances," the department's spokesman said. "This is consistent with previous detention service provider contracts, and for Serco to achieve unlimited liability in all circumstances would result in additional contract costs. "Such a decision was taken to ensure value for money and was subject to a full risk assessment." The spokesman confirmed that the contract price had blown out to $712m because Serco had been handed extra facilities to manage and needed to recruit more staff. The government has opened four detention centres: the high-security Curtin facility and a lower-security family centre at Leonora in Western Australia; Scherger in Queensland's Cape York; and Inverbrackie in South Australia. A Serco spokeswoman said yesterday the government did not allow it to discuss any conditions of its contract. "We don't give staffing numbers for our sites due to security reasons," she said. Serco won the five-year contract in 2009, taking over from rival provider G4S. In a statement to the British stock exchange, Serco revealed that the contract "may be extended for a further four years" -- a detail left out of the Immigration Department's public announcement.

March 5, 2011 The West Australian
The Barnett Government is secretly planning to privatise a slab of the State's judicial system in a move critics believe marks the takeover of justice by multinational corporations. A leaked copy of a draft Bill reveals the Government wants to allow private companies to take over the management of prisoners who have been released from jail on parole or are awaiting trial. Private contractors would enforce parole conditions, such as drug testing, attending rehabilitation programs and finding accommodation and work. Part six of the Corrective Services Bill 2011 would allow companies such as Serco, which runs Acacia Prison and is bidding for the right to provide other Government services, to become major players in the State's justice system. The laws, which are outlined in a section of the Bill entitled Contracts for Community Services, have been condemned by the Community and Public Sector Union. Union secretary Toni Walkington said the move would compromise public safety as profit-driven companies would be put in charge of sometimes unstable criminals. "We are alarmed that community corrections in any way, shape or form could be contracted out," she said. Shadow minister for corrective services Fran Logan said the Government was selling off "core" public services. "These contracts are based on key performance indicators and making sure the right boxes are ticked," he said. "It is not about rehabilitation of people who have been through the justice system. "What are we going to have? Are we going to have Dog the Bounty Hunter here in WA, tracking people down who have skipped their parole?" The British Government last year scrapped a contract with company Clearsprings after a 24-year-old man on bail for assault was beaten to death by two other inmates at one of the company's properties.

July 29, 2010 WA Today
The family of an Aboriginal elder who roasted to death in searing heat in the back of a prison van will receive a $3.2 million compensation payment from the WA government, one of the largest such payouts in Australian history. It is an ex-gratia settlement by the government to the family of Mr Ward, whose full name cannot be used for cultural reasons, and includes a $200,000 interim payment already awarded. Attorney-General Christian Porter today revealed $1.4 million of the money would go to Mr Ward's widow, Nancy Donegan, with amounts of $400,000 to be placed in trust accounts for each of her four children. Mr Ward, 46, of Warburton, died in January 2008 while being transported 360 kilometres from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face a drink-driving charge. Temperatures in the van, operated by private security company G4S, reached more than 50 degrees after it was revealed the air-conditioning in the van was broken. The compensation - which Mr Porter said was one of the largest ex-gratia payments by a government in Australian history, as well as that of common law countries - came after negotiations with the family's lawyers, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and on receipt of legal advice detailing what action could be brought against the state, and what that case might look like. It represented an "unequivocal apology" by the government. "It's meant to show contrition... deep, deep, remorse for what has occurred," Mr Porter said. It also took into account the fact that no criminal charges would be laid. While it did not come with an admission of liability, Ms Donegan could still take legal action if she chose. An "initial view" was that legal action would be likely, Mr Porter said. "I don't know if that position will change by virtue of this payment," he said. "If this does not bring finality to the family, (if civil action was to be launched), we don't want to stand in the way of Ms Donegan embarking on that action." ALS chief executive Dennis Eggington said that his organisation would consult with Mr Ward's family about possible civil proceedings against both the government and G4S. The ALS also requested further information to determine whether it would apply to have a coronial inquest into the death reopened. He described the culpability of G4S as "astronomical" and called on the company to apologise. "That's the least G4S can do," he said. "They have been very quiet in all of this. We've been very disappointed." ALS director of legal services Peter Collins said the role of G4S in Mr Ward's death was "absolutely diabolical". "It was their van, their employees driving the van, at a bare minimum (G4S) should be offering compensation to the family," he said.

March 9, 2009 Sidney Morning Herald
AS A state open to the peddling of political influence from those who have donated to government election coffers, NSW takes some beating. Starting with Sydney's foundation 221 years ago, bending the rules of governance - and worse - to help mates who have helped you has been part of the political culture. Fortunately there is far more transparency now than in the bad old days about who makes financial donations to whom. But three recent cases in Sydney show how the culture still lives in the state Labor Party in a worrying way. The first involves Nick Lalich, the Mayor of Fairfield and state MP for Cabramatta. He presided over a meeting of Fairfield City Council last week that considered a $1 million application from Fred Pisciuneri, a developer. Coincidentally, Mr Pisciuneri had made a $2000 donation to Labor at a fund-raising dinner for Mr Lalich in October, when he won the seat in a byelection. Mr Lalich declared a "non-significant, non-pecuniary conflict of interest" at the council meeting. He now says he "probably" could have been more cautious and abstained from voting. Then there is Virginia Judge, the Minister for Fair Trading, who organised a campaign against a Coles supermarket being built near Strathfield Plaza, a shopping centre in her electorate. She also successfully lobbied her colleague Tony Kelly, the Minister for Police, to have a police station shopfront set up in the plaza. Outwardly, there seems little to question. But then we learn Strathfield Plaza is owned by Memo Corporation, a company that has donated more than $50,000 to Ms Judge's political campaigns over six years. Finally Paul McLeay, the MP for Heathcote, was vice-chairman of a parliamentary committee reviewing a $26 million government contract with GEO Group to run the state's only private prison at Junee. The same company had donated $2000 to Mr McLeay's political campaign. It later gave more than $45,000 to Labor, before the 2007 election. While all three MPs protest their innocence at charges of inappropriate behaviour, the cases nonetheless suggest a distinct trend for a party that seems bereft of fresh initiatives after 14 years in power. Instead of its traditional pursuit of social justice, Labor seems to have succumbed to what the state Opposition rightly calls a "donations-for-decisions culture". Its most brazen, and extreme, manifestation was on display in the scandal that engulfed Wollongong City Council last year. Equally, the Sydney deals show the need for tougher rules against what has become in effect the recycling of political money to do favours for donors.

March 6, 2009 The Examiner
THE father of a Government MP who accepted a $2000 donation from a private prison operator is a lobbyist for another company bidding to run two more NSW jails listed for privatisation. Leo McLeay, whose son Paul also chaired a committee that reviewed private prison contracts, appears on the NSW Premier's Department lobbyist register as a consultant for Enhance Corporate. Enhance lists Serco as a client. Serco, a multinational that runs a jail in Western Australia, has lodged an expression of interest with the NSW Government to run Parklea and Cessnock jails. But both Leo McLeay, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Serco say Enhance Corporate is not involved in lobbying for the jails contract. A spokeswoman for Serco, Emma Needham, said the company had engaged another lobbying firm, Government Relations Australia, for the contract. "We are not using Enhance on this project," Ms Needham told the Herald. "Our most recent relationship with them was earlier this year. They were advising us on transport issues. That work concluded earlier this week." Mr McLeay confirmed he had worked with Serco but "on a small scoping study". He said: "It is completely unrelated to prisons." According to a list posted by the NSW Department of Commerce, four other companies have also tendered for the contract. They are GSL Australia, Management and Training Corporation, the London-based Sodexo and GEO Group Australia, which donated $45,000 to the Labor Party before the state election in 2007 and which Paul McLeay said had paid for a table at one of his fund-raising dinners. Leo McLeay's firm lists several blue-chip corporations and organisations as clients in NSW, including Cisco Systems, Lend Lease, United Group, the Australian Rugby League and the Law Society. The executive director of the group is the former Queensland deputy premier, Jim Elder, who quit politics in late 2000 after being caught up in an electoral fraud scandal. An associate director is Chris Ellison, the former justice minister for the Howard government. Meanwhile, NSW prison officers will begin overtime bans at Long Bay jail this morning, with staff at Parklea, Grafton and other prisons expected to impose similar bans over the weekend. The officers are angry about comments made last week by Ron Woodham, the Corrective Services Commissioner, to an upper house inquiry into the proposed privatisation of Cessnock and Parklea jails, in which he accused them of the "manipulation" of overtime rosters. "Commissioner Woodham has repeatedly claimed that prison officers are chasing overtime, when the reality is the prisons rely on overtime because of low staff levels," said the chairman of the Prison Officers Vocational Branch, Matt Bindley.

March 5, 2009 Sidney Morning Herald
THE LABOR MP Paul McLeay is under pressure to stand down as chairman of a parliamentary committee after it emerged that he accepted a donation from the company that runs the state's only private prison. When he accepted the donation from the GEO Group the committee was reviewing the company's $26 million contract. GEO donated $2000 to Mr McLeay's personal campaign on August 28, 2005 when the member for Heathcote was vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that was looking into whether the private Junee prison was providing value for money compared to public jails. A month later a report from the committee concluded that the Government should keep the prison operating. GEO donated more than $45,000 to the Labor Party in the lead-up to the last state election but the donation to Mr McLeay was the only one from the company that went to an individual MP. Mr McLeay, who is now committee chairman and receives an extra $17,440, said he doubted there was any "overlap". "From my recollection the report was well and truly over and I had a fund-raising dinner or luncheon sometime after that, and there were about 12 people there, one of which was GEO," he said yesterday. "Maybe the committee had finished the work and it took a while for the report to be tabled because I wouldn't have accepted a donation if we were still looking at it because that would have not been appropriate." The committee's report concluded that Junee provided good value for money because it was able to house prisoners for $73.59 a day compared to the state-run Kempsey jail which costs $91.75 a day. GEO is the second biggest operator of private prisons in the US. It is favoured to take over Parklea and Cessnock jails when they are privatised. A spokesman for GEO said there was no discussion of the committee's report at Mr McLeay's dinner and the company had understood that the report had been written long before the fund-raiser was held. The Greens MP Sylvia Hale said Mr McLeay should be stood down as committee chairman. "It was completely inappropriate for Mr McLeay to accept a personal campaign donation from GEO while he was vice-chairman of the public accounts committee that was examining the GEO private prison contract," Ms Hale said. "It is fundamentally wrong for a company that is receiving public funds from a government contract to be donating some of those funds back to the party that granted them the contract. All of this is even more concerning when the donations are from a company with the international reputation of the GEO group." Ms Hale will today introduce a private member's bill into the upper house to prevent the privatisation of the state's prisons unless any sale has the support of both houses of Parliament.

September 11, 2008 The Age
COMPLAINTS about Victoria's private prisons have risen up to fourfold in the past two years, fuelling concerns by a public sector watchdog about the state's growing reliance on business to provide government services. State Ombudsman George Brouwer yesterday tabled his 2007-08 annual report, vowing to shine a light on the more murky aspects of public-private partnerships and outsourcing and noting the "high risk" that comes with the blurring of the private and public sectors. In the report, Mr Brouwer highlights a "growing interdependency" between government and business, which brings "a high potential for conflict situations and confusion about the ethical standards required". While issues of conflicts of interest, poor customer service and failure to fulfil legal requirements remain his core work, the Ombudsman says public-private contracts and public sector compliance with the new human rights charter are two new areas of focus. The 2008 report also shows: ■Overall complaints were up 13% to 16,344 on the previous year. ■Complaints about freedom of information rose by 16%. ■Whistleblower disclosures more than doubled. ■The largest single source (29%) of complaints related to the Justice Department. ■Local government made up 23% of complaints and the Department of Human Services 19%. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor said his office was concerned that private sector involvement in services traditionally supplied by government may lead to the erosion of citizens' rights. He pointed to private prisons, noting 400% and 100% increases in complaints respectively about Port Phillip prison (rising to 443) and Fulham prison (129) since the 2006 annual report. While rising complaint figures are partly explained by the installation of phones for inmates, Mr Taylor described the increases as "disproportionately high". The emphasis on private contracting is a wake-up call for a state increasingly reliant on PPPs for services ranging from jails to water and now schools. Mr Taylor said the Ombudsman's office would make a point of scrutinising deals with business. "Every time there is a major contract or outsourcing of what traditionally has been a government function we have an interest; we want to make sure that the normal rights of a citizen to complain are retained and that the Government doesn't legislate away the right of an individual to complain to the Ombudsman." Individual agencies with the most complaints were VicRoads and Port Phillip Prison. ■The Government is expected to table legislation tomorrow to toughen rules and guidelines for councillors, including clarifying confusing laws on conflicts of interest.

November 24, 2007 The Age
THE State Government has made it more difficult for independent observers to monitor what goes on in jails, lawyers claim. "It's getting harder to get information about the way the prison system operates," said Hugh de Kretser, executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres. "The Government, instead of increasing scrutiny, is going the other way," he said. This week, Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre was told it could not set up a legal clinic at Port Phillip Prison to give advice on issues such as prisoners' treatment in jail, according to the centre's principal lawyer, Philip Cottier. In the past three months, the Government had moved to restrict prisoners' rights to make freedom of information requests and given jail governors overly wide discretion to restrict prisoners' mail, Mr de Kretser said. The laws about mail were badly drafted and could potentially capture even innocent mail exchanges, he said. Corrections Victoria had recently made secret key operational procedures about how guards should deal with force and firearms, Mr de Kretser said. These procedures were previously open to public scrutiny. "If we cannot access the rules Victoria's prisons operate under, how can we hold our prisons accountable to complying with them?" he said. The criticisms follow the release of a report this week by the State Ombudsman, George Brouwer, into a violent incident at the Melbourne Custody Centre earlier this year. Mr Brouwer found that guards used excessive force against a prisoner and called for a review of the centre, which is run by a private company, the GEO Group, under the supervision of Victoria Police. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor told The Age that the custody centre was "a closed shop" with limited public scrutiny: "It's a place that no one can go. It's a de facto jail, but it's a police jail, and it's very hard to go there unless you are a lawyer or are from the Ombudsman's office." Mr de Kretser said Government monitoring of assaults by prison officers in privately run prisons was weak. "The private prison contractor and the Government have a common interest in burying the issues," he said.

October 31, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
THE Federal Government is winding back private management of immigration detention centres after years of controversy over the compromised health and psychological care of detainees. The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, said yesterday the Government was relieving a private company of its responsibility for health and psychological services, which would be transferred to the direct control of her department. The move follows the recommendations of a review triggered by the Palmer report into the deficiencies of care in detention highlighted by the case of Cornelia Rau, the psychiatric patient whose illness went undiagnosed for several months. Global Solutions Ltd, whose management of health services has drawn criticisms of care standards and conflict of interest, denied the loss of services was "in any way the result of dissatisfaction with the services provided" by Global Solutions. A company spokesman said the review of the centres had not criticised the health and psychological services it managed. But the company's management of the centres and detainee health services had represented a "fundamental conflict of interest", said Louise Newman, a psychiatrist and a member of a government expert advisory panel on detention health. Professor Newman said the failings in health care and psychological services, highlighted by the Rau saga and other cases of inadequate care, had resulted in "incalculable" suffering for detainees.

October 25, 2006 Townsville Bulletin
A TENDER for the state's two privately-run prisons is not a criticism of the current operators, the Queensland Government said today. Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence said new tenders to run Borallon and Arthur Gorrie correctional centres, valued at a total of $200 million, would ensure taxpayers got value for money. "It is not about the performance of the current operators,'' Ms Spence said. The Arthur Gorrie jail has been under fire in recent years over a number of deaths in custody, security failures and assaults on prisoners by staff. Borallon made headlines four years ago when a report showed it had the highest rate of illicit drug use in the state, with almost one in three prisoners using drugs. Four companies will be invited to tender: GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, GSL Australia Pty Ltd, Management and Training Corporation Pty Ltd and Serco Australia Pty Ltd. GEO currently operates Arthur Gorrie, and Management and Training Corporation operates Borallon. Ms Spence said the contracts would be for five years, with an option for Queensland Corrective Services to extend them for a further five years. The tenders will be evaluated in the first half of next year with new contracts to start on January 1, 2008. An independent probity auditor has been contracted to oversee the entire project.

March 2, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
The immigration department made an unexplained $5.7 million payout to the company that used to manage Australia's detention centres, an audit has found. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has identified a series of anomalies, potential conflicts and inadequate record-keeping in a review of the department's contracts with companies paid to run the centres. The department put detention centre management out to tender in 2001 and a $400 million, four-year contract with Global Solutions Limited (GSL) was ultimately signed in August, 2003. But the ANAO has found DIMIA, now DIMA, wanted to "encourage" the former contractor to end its management of the centres with a contract "completion payment". As a result, Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) received a payout of almost $6 million. "DIMIA was not able to provide evidence of the criteria it used to make its determination to pay ACM $5.7 million in contract completion payments," the ANAO said in its report. "The basis on which DIMIA made these payments was doubtful," it said. Labor says the audit's findings are a scandal. "What we have is nothing short of a scandal in the way the government has handled this," opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke said. "The people who were involved in the negotiations of the contracts on behalf of the department became horribly compromised. "Records weren't kept, records were lost, and some of the records that we have are conflicting."

November 2, 2005 Sidney Morning Herald
Laws that follow through on the government's compromise deal with rebel backbenchers over its tough immigration detention policy were introduced to the lower house on Wednesday. Three-month time limits on deciding protection visa applications and decisions by the Refugee Review Tribunal are two of the major changes introduced in the bill. In addition, the department will be able to release the identity and photographs of people being detained when all other efforts to identify or locate them have failed. This is to rectify the reluctance on DIMIA's part to release information about the mentally ill Australian resident Cornelia Rau who was wrongly locked up in immigration detention for 10 months. Labor's immigration spokesman Tony Burke described the bill as "an incremental step in the right direction". Mr Burke wants the government's contracts with the private company running Australia's immigration detention centres, Global Solutions Ltd, terminated and the management of the centres returned to government hands.

July 14, 2005 Daily Telegraph
THE federal government has apologised to Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez for their treatment at the hands of the immigration department.  Prime Minister John Howard said both women were owed an apology.  "Both Cornelia Rau and Mrs Alvarez are owed apologies for their treatment, and on behalf of the government I give those apologies to both of those women who were the victims of mistakes by the department," Mr Howard told reporters.  Mr Howard and Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone today released the Palmer report into the immigration department, which catalogues a litany of failures that led to Ms Rau being wrongly detained for 10 months, and Ms Alvarez, also known as Vivian Solon, being wrongly deported. In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Senator Vanstone said the pair would receive assistance.  Mick Palmer, a former federal police commissioner, was appointed to look into the case of Ms Rau.  His inquiry was later widened to include the case of Ms Alvarez.  After criticising the government's contract with Global Solutions Limited (GSL), which runs the immigration detention centres, Mr Palmer recommended an expert group review the company's contract.  Senator Vanstone said Mr Palmer was critical of the department's policy of 'exception reporting', where instead of outlining what should be done, the contract outlined what must not be done to make it as flexible as possible.  "But Mr Palmer's not of the view that the other regulations surrounding detention allow that flexibility to be there," Senator Vanstone said.

November 13, 2004 AP
Doubts have been cast on the financial stability of security contractor AIMS Corporation, with a new Department of Justice report warning of possible risks to the Government over the corporation's $21 million a year contract to manage Acacia Prison. The department's annual report on WA's only private prison, tabled in the Legislative Assembly this week, revealed plans to scrutinise AIMS' books to uncover any financial risks the company posed to WA taxpayers. The report said the department had held concerns over the financial health of AIMS for two years, and closer monitoring of the prison over the last year exposed multiple financial issues, including cashflow problems and long delays in invoice payments by the prison. The report attacked AIMS over a host of other problems at the $79 million prison, most significantly, the level of illicit drug use. Nearly one in 10 random urine samples tested positive for illicit substances in the past financial year, the most cases ever recorded in the three year history of the prison. Another cause for serious concern was the high number of test refusals. Criticism was also levelled at faulty electronic systems. AIMS was penalised $211,598 for various deficiencies at the prison, including the drug problem. Its five-year contract to manage Acacia expires in May 2006, with the department to review the contract before it expires. The performance of AIMS, which also manages court security and custodial services in WA, was thrust into the spotlight this year when nine dangerous criminals escaped from the Supreme Court lockup in June.

November 5, 2004 New Zealand Herald
The Land Transport Management Act has paved the way for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in road transport and the Public Finance (State Sector Management) Bill will accelerate this privatisation into the health and education sectors. It is commonly argued that PPP schemes provide the necessary roads and other infrastructure assets more quickly and cheaply than direct taxpayer funding. This is unlikely to be true. Research by Sanjiv Sachdev, of the Kingston Business School in England, shows the apparent efficiency of private prisons is not the result of innovative management but shorter holidays, lower pay and worse pensions.
The average basic pay is 30 per cent lower and annual leave is five to eight days fewer than in the public sector. Taking into account pension losses, he estimates that privatised staff are up to 70 per cent worse off.

July 23, 2004
The private security company lambasted over the mass escape of prisoners from Perth's Supreme Court has issued a public apology.  AIMS Corporation's contract with the West Australian government first came under scrutiny following a breakout by nine maximum security prisoners from the central Perth courthouse on June 10.  But the pressure on the company intensified still further with the escape last week of Adrian John Ugle, who slipped out of his handcuffs and fled from AIMS officers who had been transporting him to a hospital appointment.  Ugle, 28, who was serving a two-year sentence at Casuarina Prison for aggravated burglary and previous escapes, spent four days on the run before being returned to custody last Saturday. Ugle's escapade prompted the State Government to consider dumping AIMS from their contract to protect and transport the state's convicted criminals.  (News.com)

June 19, 2004
Australasian Correctional Management ran 12 immigration detention centres on behalf of the Howard Government from early 1998 until early this year.  According to the Australian National Audit Office report, the Department of Immigration, Indigenous and Multicultural Affairs had no strategy for detaining asylum seekers, let alone a contract management plan with ACM.  The damning report found: No risk management strategy in the contract.  No contract management training or guidance.  No performance targets and an ad hoc approach to changing numbers.  No contract monitoring or assessment.  No financial risk strategy or asset management plan.  "This meant that DIMIA was not able to assess whether its strategies were actually working in practice," the report said.  During the contract the number of detainees varied from just a handful in 1998 to 3000 in the year 2000.  And the auditors could find no assurance that the financial aspects of the $500 million contract "operated as intended".  The report also found a gap in the audit trail." Invoicing procedures where the audit trail between the services provided and payments made did not provide senior managers with assurance that full value for money was being achieved," it said.  "A systematic approach to risk management, including the establishment of an appropriate and documented risk management strategy, should have been an integral part of contract management," the auditors said. According to the report a manual for departmental centre managers was not issued until four years after the contract began and had not been kept up to date.  In its response to the report the department agreed with the six recommendations made by the auditors.  It defended itself by saying the audit did not "fully reflect and take account of the complexity of the environment and the nature of the previous detention contract". "Many aspects of the contract were intended to be flexibly addressed through negotiation and discussion," it said.  Opposition immigration spokesman Stephen Smith demanded the return of immigration detention centres to government management.  "The report is a comprehensive condemnation of the Government's policy of the privatisation of the management of immigration detention centres and a comprehensive indictment of DIMIA's administration of it," Mr Smith said.  The auditors found that 38 of the 100 immigration detention standards issued by the department had no performance measures and another 37 were only partially covered.  Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's spokesman did not respond to the report.  (The Courier Mail)

March 2, 2004
The Pope clearly opposes the federal government's policy of mandatory detention of children, according to an Australian asylum seeker advocate honoured by the Vatican.  Adelaide Centacare director Dale West will next month be awarded a Venerable Cross by the Pope in recognition of his work for detainees.  The welfare worker said the awarding of the Venerable Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice showed the Pope opposed mandatory detention of children.  "That message is clear," said Mr West, a member of the Uniting Church who is believed to be the only non-Catholic in Australia to receive the Papal honour.  "It's support at the highest level in the Catholic Church for what we're doing.  "It says we have got support even beyond the bishops in Australia and, without sounding conceited about this, it says we've taken the right view."  Mr West has for four years been a vocal opponent of holding children in mandatory detention.  He was instrumental in bringing the Baktiari children to Adelaide last August after they were released from the Baxter detention centre.  (The Age)

February 9, 2004
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon will be given responsibility for regulating the state's private security industry under proposed tough new laws.  The Age believes responsibility for the more than 20,000 Victorians who work as crowd controllers, security guards and private investigators will be taken from a police unit known as the Private Agents Registrar and placed directly under Ms Nixon's supervision to tighten controls on the industry.  The regulation of security staff came to prominence last month after the death of former Test cricketer and media personality David Hookes outside a St Kilda hotel. St Albans bouncer Zdravko Micevic, 21, has been charged with manslaughter.  (State Political Reporter)

January 22, 2004
The Bracks Government was yesterday accused of incompetence for breaching its own laws by failing to establish new security industry regulations after existing ones expired three years ago.  A report last year by a parliamentary sub-committee that scrutinises regulations had criticised the Government's inaction, it was revealed yesterday.  Opposition Leader Robert Doyle said the Government had been lazy and incompetent by not establishing new regulations to tighten controls on the security industry, despite having begun a review in 2000.  (State Political Reporter)

October 10, 2003
Australia's treatment of refugees in detention centres was the harshest in the world, federal human rights commissioner Sev Ozdowski said today.  Dr Ozdowski said the billion dollar system removed basic liberties from refugees, resulting in levels of despair unseen in detention camps elsewhere.  "It (Australia's system) is the harshest - the harshest mainly from the point of view of the length (of detention)," he told seminar guests at Monash University.  "I've never seen the level of despair (in camps anywhere) that I've seen in Australia."  He said the longest a child had been held in detention in Australia was five years, five months.  By April this year, 50 children had been detained for more than two years.  Dr Ozdowski, who has conducted an inquiry into detention centres and will have his findings tabled in federal parliament next year, said the social implications of indefinite detention were shattering.  Family life disintegrated, people became suicidal and he had seen children as young as 10 with signs of self-harm.  He quoted from one detainee who said "it's 16 months since my detention. My life has been taken away from me ... I've become a useless person who wishes for death everyday." Dr Ozdowski, who was once himself a Polish refugee, also said the government's system of temporary protection visas (TPVs) was "ill-conceived". "I personally believe that the TPV system is a disaster and we'll be paying for it for a long time," he said.  He said TPVs stopped people integrating into Australian society and contributed to mental health problems.  Dr Ozdowski said that unlike prison life, where inmates have regular routines with access to TV, sport, literature and education, detention centres offered no such distractions.  He said officials that he interviewed from the immigration department showed a lack of interest in improving the lot of detainees.  "My view is that this culture in the department contributes to the harshness in the detention system," he said.  He said the biggest human rights abuses had occurred during riots at the centres.  "(It happened) where basically control was lost and gas was used and physical force was used," he said.  "You just don't keep people imprisoned for a long time for no good reason."  Senator Vanstone issued a statement saying Australia was "one of the great immigration success stories".  "We have a generous, robust and ordered immigration system," she said.  "It is very difficult when people jump the queue and arrive in Australia with no paperwork. The systems that we have in place are there to make sure that those people who are most in need get help, and those who aren't are repatriated."  (The Age)

July 9, 2003
The Federal Government will go to the High Court in an attempt to keep five children in an immigration detention centre after the Family Court yesterday dismissed an application to overturn a landmark ruling that it had the power to set them free.  The Family Court yesterday granted the Government permission to appeal to the High Court over the June judgement, in which two out of a three-judge bench found the indefinite detention of children was unlawful and that the court could order their release.  This was because there were "important questions of law and of public interest involved".  But the Family Court refused the Government's demand that, in the interim, it should issue a "stay" on the judgement, preventing any court acting on the ruling and ordering the release of any children from detention.  A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, responded to yesterday's ruling, saying "we'll look at possibly asking the High Court to consider a stay".  There are more than 100 children in immigration detention centres in Australia.  (Sidney Morning Herald)

January 2, 2003
Up to 39 people have been moved from immigration detention centres to jails or police cells across the country to try to end several days of violence in five detention centre.  The Federal Government also threatened strip-searches at detention centres yesterday as senior immigration officials prepared reports on the four days of violence, which have caused an estimated $8 million damage.  (The Age)

January 1, 2003
The Australian Federal Police will look into whether the series of arson attacks that have hit five immigration detention centres in as many days were part of an organized campaign.  The Federal Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, said he had heard suggestions that the fires and violence - which caused $8.5 million damage - were "an orchestrated set of events" but he thought there was no substantive evidence to support the claim.  The Department of Immigration said tension was still high at Western Australia's Port Hedland centre, South Australia's Baxter and Woomera centres and the centres at Christmas Island.  The five days of violent protest culminated with fires and a car-ramming at Sydney's Villawood centre on New Year's Eve.  (smh.au.com)

January 1, 2003
A ring of militant asylum seekers planned and coordinated the fires in immigration detention facilities across the country, centre managers claimed yesterday.  Five of the country's seven centres have been hit by fire over the past week, causing more than $8 million damage.  In the latest incidents, about $500,000 damage was caused during a riot on New Year's Eve at Villawood in Sydney.  Staff from Australasian Correctional Management believe that detainees from various centres had been in regular telephone contact since December 27, when the first of the fires broke out at Baxter in South Australia.  A group of about 50 to 60 men from Baxter are alleged to be among the ringleaders.  The allegations come as about seven handcuffed detainees from Woomera were transferred to Port Augusta police station for questioning over a rampage in the early hours of Tuesday morning.  (The Age)

December 31, 2002
Asylum seekers who have caused about $8 million damage to detention centres in the past week have been warned by the Federal Government they will housed in "far less comfortable" circumstances if they do not stop destroying property.  The warning followed fires that caused about $2.5 million damage at Woomera, including the destruction of 33 accommodation blocks.  The Department of Immigration said that in the latest incident at Woomera, guards were pelted with stones and threatened with metal bars as they tried to extinguish fires.  "Staff attempting to extinguish the fires were set upon by around 10 detainees in each compound," the department said.  A fire at Port Hedland in Western Australia caused $3 million damage and a blaze at Baxter in South Australia, caused about $2.25 million damage.  The Federal Government is considering closing the Woomera centre, at which there have been escapes, protests and riots in recent years.  (The Age)

December 30, 2002
It could be "very difficult" to prosecute the asylum seekers responsible for fires at detention centres across the country, estimated to have caused about $5.25 million worth of damage, Attorney-General Daryl Williams said yesterday.    After fires in the remote Western Australian facility of Port Hedland caused damage estimated at $3 million, Mr Williams conceded court action could prove impossible.  "If they are not cooperating, and it's not likely they will cooperate, it may be very difficult to identify those who are directly responsible," he said.  The fire at Port Hedland is believed to have been deliberately lit in a copy-cat style act after fires at South Australia's new Baxter detention centre, which caused $2.25 million damage.  The Department of Immigration also revealed that detainees at the Woomera centre in South Australia had deliberately lit fires on Sunday, causing little damage, and a guard at the detention centre at Perth airport had been hospitalised yesterday after a scuffle with four detainees.  An Iranian inmate of the Baxter centre who witnessed the fires said people were extremely frustrated and had behaved irrationally because Australian Correctional Management were mistreating people. "It is the incompetent management of the ACM, that they couldn't understand the detainees have not good mentality in here," the man said. "They must manage all of the people in here and calm them down."  (The Age)

December 4, 2002
The Howard Government yesterday bowed to pressure to soften its treatment of women and children asylum seekers as Labor began debating a dramatic departure from the refugee policy it took to last year's election.  Under new guidelines released by Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, unaccompanied minors will now be placed in foster care and women with children will be offered an alternative to living in high-security detention centres.  (The Age)

November 15, 2002
Some 533 Afghan asylum seekers have accepted the Federal Government's $2000 cash offer to return home rather than face continued detention in harsh and isolated detention centres.  (The Age)

Australian Immigration Department
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011
Duty of Care: Expose by Clare Sambrook on G4S and the death of Aboriginal elder Mr. Ward. June 8, 2011

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

November 23, 2011 The Age
THE multinational company that runs Australia's immigration detention network has been fined $15 million for failing in its duty of care to asylum seekers and underperformance . The immigration department has told a federal parliamentary inquiry it had docked $14.8 million from monthly payments to SERCO between March 2010 and June 2011 because of poor management of the detention centres, and docked another $215,000 from SERCO's contract to run immigration housing centres. SERCO was paid $375 million to run immigration centres last year, and $101 million in the three months to October 2011. The secretive contract the federal government signed with SERCO withholds payment for audited ''abatements'' each month. Escapes, failure to secure perimeter fences, not providing activities or reporting major incidents, not giving access to visitors, interpreters or legal representatives, poor building conditions and food safety can trigger fee reductions. The penalty is limited by the contract to 5 per cent of SERCO's monthly fee. The $15 million fine, revealed in written submissions to the inquiry, is therefore near the upper limit of what the Immigration Department would have been contractually able to penalise SERCO in a period plagued by riots, fires, suicides and escalating detainee self harm.

August 19, 2011 The Age
A MENTAL health nurse has been sacked from a Darwin detention centre for saying she believes mandatory detention contributes to mental illness in asylum seekers. A letter sent by her employer, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), and obtained by The Age, says her job was terminated last Friday after Serco detention centre managers and Immigration Department staff complained that she was ''expressing negative political opinions'' about detention. The federal government's Detention Health Advisory Group, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian Psychological Society yesterday called for mandatory detention to be abandoned. Their call came after documents submitted to a parliamentary inquiry showed high levels of self-harm, with 213 detainees treated for self-inflicted injuries and 700 for ''voluntary starvation'' in the first six months of this year. The chairwoman of the advisory group, Professor Louise Newman, said she was concerned that a political view could be held against a health worker. IHMS spokeswoman Melissa Lysaght said last night that staff were entitled to political opinions but needed to work in a team environment. ''In fact, that is not a reason for terminating someone, because everyone is entitled to a political opinion,'' Ms Lysaght said. ''In hindsight, the phrasing of the letter was incorrect.'' She said the woman had been sacked for professional standards reasons, after working there for two weeks. Amanda Gordon, of the Australian Psychological Society, said yesterday there was clear scientific evidence of the harm caused by indefinite detention, which ''exacerbates trauma, and creates mental illness, in contravention of the government's own commitment to reduce it''. Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said yesterday his attack on the mandatory detention policy at the AMA's parliamentary dinner this week had been prompted by ''terrible stories'' being reported by paediatricians and psychiatrists who went inside detention centres. Dr Paul Bauert, director of paediatrics at the Royal Darwin Hospital, said children as young as four and five had been caught up in hunger strikes that their parents were involved in, and were treated at his hospital. ''They weren't eating and required intravenous and gastric drips,'' he said.

August 17, 2011 IT News
Australia's Department of Immigration has blamed IT systems for delays in turning over detailed information on serious incidents recorded at detention centres to a parliamentary inquiry. The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network, established 16 June and convened for the first time last night, received 597 pages of data [pdf] from the department on incidents recorded at detention facilities since January 2008. It had sought from the department copies of all incident reports filed by immigration facility managers Serco and health services provider International Health and Medical Services (IHMS). The department said it had received 9157 incident reports from Serco between 1 October 2009 and the 30 June 2011. These were recorded in a Compliance, Case Management, Detention and Settlement (CCMDS) portal. The department also received 1869 reports from G4S, a firm that managed detention centres before Serco was contracted. G4S incidents were recorded in a "legacy system" called the Immigration Services Information System (ISIS). The department claimed there was no quick way of accessing incident reports, such as use of a batch process for extraction. "It would take a departmental officer approximately 919 hours of work (this is equivalent to around 25 weeks of work for a full time officer) to extract all reports from the system as each report needs to be extracted individually," the department said. Instead, the department produced a spreadsheet that aggregated every incident recorded according to tags such as "escape", "voluntary starvation" and "self-harm". The department said that getting to IHMS incident reports prior to January 2010 was difficult because they were not electronically recorded at this time. Alleged abuse against staff -- The committee had also sought detailed data on actions taken by Serco for incidents where the contractor's or department's staff had been allegedly abused or threatened "by detainees or other persons within the Detention Network". Department figures showed Serco recorded 871 instances of "alleged or observed inappropriate behaviour... towards Serco staff" until 30 June this year. "Action taken by Serco in relation to these incidents are recorded in multiple systems depending upon the nature of the incident," the department noted. "The very detailed information sought in the [committee's] question is not readily available in consolidated form and it would be a major task to collect and assemble it. "In order to report on the outcome for each incident, the department would need to manually interrogate these systems. "The department estimates that this would take a departmental officer an average of 30 minutes for each incident. This equates to approximately 58 working days." Figures that were released by the department showed the number of detainees hospitalised, treated for starvation and injuries from self-harm.

August 17, 2011 The Age
THE full extent of despair and unrest in Australia's immigration detention centres has been exposed, with documents showing 1507 detainees were hospitalised in the first six months of this year, including 72 psychiatric hospital admissions, and 213 treated for self-inflicted injuries. The documents, released to a parliamentary committee by the Department of Immigration, also show more than 700 detainees were treated for ''voluntary starvation''. And it emerged that police had been notified 264 times of possible criminal behaviour in detention centres. The figures were released as Australia's top immigration bureaucrat last night urged MPs to rethink mandatory detention of asylum seekers and asked whether the hardline policy actually deterred boat arrivals. In an extraordinary opening address to the inquiry last night, Andrew Metcalfe, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, urged a more flexible approach. The inquiry was instigated by the opposition and Greens, and has begun to lift the veil on the secretive private contractor, Serco, that runs Australia's detention centres. Hundreds of pages of data supplied to the inquiry by the department include the time and nature of every recorded incident inside the nation's 19 detention centres. However, Serco is refusing to state how many staff it employs at each centre, claiming this is sensitive. The department told last night's hearing that Serco was not required under its contract to meet any staff-to-detainee ratios. Mr Metcalfe said Serco was refusing to disclose its staffing ratios because it was concerned detainees would find out. Last night's hearing was also told that Serco had been fined every month in 2010-11 for failing to meet contract goals. Serco has reported 871 instances of inappropriate behaviour towards its staff, and 700 instances of inappropriate behaviour between detainees. There have been five substantiated complaints against staff - but no resulting dismissals. In June alone, there were 135 critical incidents across the network, covering multiple serious injuries, assaults, two escapes and self-harm. Christmas Island is particularly plagued by suicide attempts. There were 620 self-harm incidents there in the year to June, including 193 actual acts, 31 serious attempts and 476 threatened acts. The island's four detention centres were over capacity on 27 occasions. Hunger strikes were reported at most centres, and at least 17 cases of children starving themselves were noted in the past year. The surge in incidents began in mid-2010, coinciding with a rise in boat arrivals. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the data revealed the detention system had collapsed, with the government sitting ''in policy denial'' while centres filled. Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young said she wanted more details, including the daily cost of operating the network. Mr Metcalfe said rising unrest, self-harm and suicide were unfortunate and sad, but ''defy simple solutions''.

July 29, 2011 ABC
Commonwealth ombudsman Allan Asher has launched an investigation into the psychological health of asylum seekers in detention and what is contributing to the high level of suicide and self-harm. Citing more than 1,100 threatened or actual incidents in the past financial year, Mr Asher has questioned whether the immigration detention values the Government announced three years ago today have become lost in its effort to deal with the increases in asylum seekers arriving by boat. Professor Louise Newman, a psychiatrist who heads a mental health advisory group for the Immigration Department, says she believes the rate of self-harm is higher than the figures which prompted the ombudsman's investigation. "There is currently no very clear system for the definition of what constitutes self-harm as opposed to protest-type behaviours as opposed to suicidal behaviour - very unclear in terms of how data is actually collected," she said. "I think the difficulty with a system such as we have it at the moment is that many behaviours will just be classified and really dismissed as signs of protest or bad or manipulative behaviour. And we've heard comments from Serco to that effect today." Professor Newman has welcomed Mr Asher's announcement, saying the current system is falling short in its ability to identify those detainees at risk of self-harm. "I think what we actually need is a collection of data that actually understands the psychological issues going on here so that we can set up a system that better identifies people who might be at risk of more serious behaviour, including suicidal behaviour and completed suicides," she said. She says suicide attempts are a daily occurrence in immigration detention centres. "These figures are likely to be an underestimate. I think at the moment, anecdotally, we are looking at at least across the system every night one very near-miss suicide," she said.

July 28, 2011 Big Pond News
An inquiry into the mental health of those in Aust's immigration detention centres has begun. The commonwealth ombudsman has launched an inquiry into suicide and self-harm in Australia's immigration detention centres. Allan Asher witnessed the deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers when he visited Christmas Island in June. In the week the ombudsman visited the detention centre there were more than 30 incidents of self-harm by detainees there. "This reflects an upsurge in the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide reported to IHMS (International Health and Medical Services) across all immigration detention facilities," Mr Asher said on Thursday. "My investigation will assess the extent of this tragic problem." It would examine the root causes, and consider practical steps that the department and its service providers Serco and IHMS should take to identify and manage those at risk of suicide and self-harm. Mr Asher wants the investigation to give evidence-based, expert-endorsed advice on guidelines and protocols for reducing the number of suicide and self-harm incidents. The ombudsman hopes to release the results of his inquiry by the end of 2011.

May 30, 2011 TangataWhenua.com
Not only is Serco’s contract commercial in confidence, it has now been revealed the detention centre operator receives little scrutiny from the Department of Immigration, reports Adam Brereton from Canberra. Not only is the $1 billion contract awarded to detention centre operator Serco beyond the reach of public scrutiny, but Senate Estimates hearings today revealed that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects scant data on breaches and has limited knowledge and oversight of staff training levels. In what was a stellar confirmation of the Greens’ reputation as Senate watchdogs, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young doggedly pressed DIAC assistant secretary Fiona Lynch-Magor over allegations that Serco has been posting untrained and inexperienced guards to Australia’s overcrowded detention centres, with surprising results. When asked by Hanson-Young, the DIAC official was unable to list the number of times Serco had breached the “management and service” provision of the contract, relating to detention centre operations, because the contract “doesn’t record specific breaches per incident”, instead measuring Serco’s performance under a “series of abatements that apply to certain metrics”. The abatements, issued as retrospective fines, have been occurring on Lynch-Magor’s admission “since the beginning of the contract”, but are “not recorded in a recordable number”. “Systemic” breaches trigger “continuous failure” under the contract, which has a multiplier effect on the abatement issued. Senator Hanson-Young appeared increasingly frustrated with Lynch-Magor’s answers, which became more circuitous as the questioning continued. When asked whether a failure to train staff properly could be considered a breach, she replied that Serco was “required to undertake all the training we require them to do”, and listed Certificate 2 requirements for centre chefs and guards. Lynch-Magor told the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that DIAC had requested Serco prove their staff were properly trained “earlier this week”, and had received an immediate response. When Senator Hanson-Young asked the number of staff who “were asked to leave”, she was told that wasn’t information the department usually requested from Serco. “So the department doesn’t know how many untrained staff have been on the ground… as of earlier this week?” the Senator replied. The assembled DIAC officials assured Senator Hanson-Young they “have ongoing monitoring of the Serco contract” — a contract manager in each facility, plus centre and national level monitoring, and “would expect Serco to respond immediately.” “You’re telling me you have no record of how many times the contract supervisors have had to request staff be removed?” Senator Hanson-Young asked. DIAC asked the question be put on notice, ending that line of enquiry. When queried about public disclosure, DIAC explained that those parts of the Serco contract that were outside public scrutiny were justified — centre maps, operational details, and commercial performance indicators. The Senator didn’t buy it. “So the list of items that could qualify as a breach of the contract are not public, and the department doesn’t audit the list of breaches — what breaches happen, how many breaches happen — at what stage is there any type of transparency?” she asked. By this stage Lynch-Magor was feeling the heat. She told the Standing Committee the abatements regime is audited and can be quantified. Serco’s abatements regime is a “performance metric” assessed against a number of criteria, compiled by DIAC monthly — individual breaches aren’t collated — and there is no ticking or crossing. It’s not a system where “five particular events occurred and that added up to the number five”, Lynch-Magor said. “And where is that publicly disclosed?” Senator Hanson-Young asked. “It’s not publicly disclosed,” Lynch-Magor confessed. “So the contract whereby the list of requirements that Serco has to fulfill is not for public disclosure, the possible items that would qualify as a breach is not publicly disclosed, the performance of whether they are actually upholding or breaching that service delivery performance is not publicly disclosed — where in this process is there the public interest and transparency of this contract?” Lynch-Magor made a noise much like the last puff of air being expelled from a balloon. “It doesn’t exist, does it? If it’s up to Senate Estimates, well we need to see those things tabled,” the Senator added. “It might be worth noting Senator that we have an extensive process of internal and external auditors,” Lynch-Magor added. “I think I’ve made my point,” Senator Hanson-Young concluded. The Federal Opposition is currently seeking the support of the independents and Greens to conduct a broad-based inquiry into immigration detention.

May 12, 2011 The Australian
The Gillard government has secretly doubled the fee paid to global prisons contractor Serco, which will now charge taxpayers $712 million to manage the nation's immigration detention network. Government tender records reveal that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship secretly increased the contract price in November last year, barely 11 months after publicly announcing the cost to be $367m. Serco, which manages government prisons in Australia, Britain, the US, Europe and New Zealand, has also been fined several times for breaching contract conditions. The Immigration Department yesterday refused to say how or when Serco had breached its contract, or how much the department had penalised the company by withholding contract payments. "We can't got into detail on the total amount of any fines imposed, as this information is considered commercial-in-confidence," a department spokesman said. "Disclosure of such details has the potential to damage the commercial reputation of the detention services provider. "The contract provides for the contractor to be penalised where it is proven that lax work practices or incompetence have resulted in negligence and contributed to loss and damage of commonwealth assets." During Serco's management, asylum-seekers recently set fire to detention centres on Christmas Island and at Villawood, in Sydney, where they have staged regular rooftop protests and hunger strikes. Nine Chinese nationals escaped from Villawood last year. This week's budget papers reveal that the Gillard government has also granted Serco legal and financial indemnities. Serco is responsible for insuring the Immigration Department against loss and damage, or any personal liability claims arising from its management of detention centres, but the government has agreed that Serco will be liable to pay only $75m, on top of any insurance payouts. "What this means is that in the course of negotiating the contract, the commonwealth has agreed to meet any additional liability beyond $75m in the event of certain circumstances," the department's spokesman said. "This is consistent with previous detention service provider contracts, and for Serco to achieve unlimited liability in all circumstances would result in additional contract costs. "Such a decision was taken to ensure value for money and was subject to a full risk assessment." The spokesman confirmed that the contract price had blown out to $712m because Serco had been handed extra facilities to manage and needed to recruit more staff. The government has opened four detention centres: the high-security Curtin facility and a lower-security family centre at Leonora in Western Australia; Scherger in Queensland's Cape York; and Inverbrackie in South Australia. A Serco spokeswoman said yesterday the government did not allow it to discuss any conditions of its contract. "We don't give staffing numbers for our sites due to security reasons," she said. Serco won the five-year contract in 2009, taking over from rival provider G4S. In a statement to the British stock exchange, Serco revealed that the contract "may be extended for a further four years" -- a detail left out of the Immigration Department's public announcement.

March 2, 2011 ABC
The company in charge of Australia's detention facilities has been fined for a series of escapes by detainees. The Immigration Department claims Serco has breached the contract conditions to run the detention centres, with almost 50 detainees escaping since June 2009 and 35 still on the run. The fines are reported to exceed $4 million, but the Government has refused to comment. Yesterday Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison said an escape from Sydney's Villawood detention centre was a sign of a system in crisis. On Tuesday morning a Fijian national being held at the facility after his visa had been cancelled managed to escape. Six other men also attempted to flee the centre but were stopped by staff. The department ordered an investigation into the escape.

February 19, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says there are 16 people still missing from the country's detention centres after they escaped during the past year. The Department says there has been 41 escapes from detention centres across the country between July 2010 and January this year. Twenty-five people have been found but officials have no idea where the remaining 16 are. A spokeswoman for the Minister for Immigration says the Government considers any escapes from detention to be unacceptable. She says the company contracted to run the centres, Serco, has been fined for several escapes, saying the breakouts have been a breach of the contract conditions. The Government says if further action is required against Serco, it will not hesitate to act. It says the number of escapes has decreased significantly compared to 10 years ago.

July 2, 2010 APP
Protesters over an Aboriginal elder's death from heat stroke in a prison van have accused the West Australian Director of Public Prosecutions of racism for not laying charges. More than 100 people rallied outside DPP Joe McGrath's office in downtown Perth office on Friday chanting "Racist Police" and "Racist DPP". Mr McGrath announced on Monday that no charges would be laid against two security guards over the 46-year-old elder's death because there was insufficient evidence of criminal negligence.

May 16, 2010 Northern Territory News
A CHINESE woman was still on the run last night - two days after she escaped detention from a Darwin motel. The Immigration Department confirmed the woman slipped away from the motel on Thursday morning and is yet to be found. The same firm, Serco, that allowed eight people to flee from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, is being blamed for her escape. A source told the Sunday Territorian that federal police had detained the woman and a Chinese man at Darwin airport after the pair allegedly arrived from a Bali flight with fake passports. The source said the woman had to be rushed to hospital when she panicked and swallowed a ring at the airport. She was allegedly left unattended at the hospital before she was moved to the Darwin motel and put into the care of security guards. The man is still believed to be in detention.

April 3, 2009 The Age
THE Federal Government is set to dump controversial company G4S as operator of immigration detention centres. The Department of Immigration has announced that Serco, which runs prisons and immigration centres in Britain, is its preferred tender to run Australia's six detentions centres. The contract is believed to be worth up to $500 million. But human rights advocates have hit out at the decision, saying Serco has a poor record in Britain, and detention centres should be operated by the public sector. Advocate Charandev Singh said Serco's record in Britain showed a "prison mentality" would be brought to its operations in Australia. "The Government just wants a clean skin in Australia — somebody with no blemishes (here)," Mr Singh said. "G4S and Serco are basically the same company. They come from the same corporate background, running prisons."

October 31, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
THE Federal Government is winding back private management of immigration detention centres after years of controversy over the compromised health and psychological care of detainees. The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, said yesterday the Government was relieving a private company of its responsibility for health and psychological services, which would be transferred to the direct control of her department. The move follows the recommendations of a review triggered by the Palmer report into the deficiencies of care in detention highlighted by the case of Cornelia Rau, the psychiatric patient whose illness went undiagnosed for several months. Global Solutions Ltd, whose management of health services has drawn criticisms of care standards and conflict of interest, denied the loss of services was "in any way the result of dissatisfaction with the services provided" by Global Solutions. A company spokesman said the review of the centres had not criticised the health and psychological services it managed. But the company's management of the centres and detainee health services had represented a "fundamental conflict of interest", said Louise Newman, a psychiatrist and a member of a government expert advisory panel on detention health. Professor Newman said the failings in health care and psychological services, highlighted by the Rau saga and other cases of inadequate care, had resulted in "incalculable" suffering for detainees.

March 2, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
The immigration department made an unexplained $5.7 million payout to the company that used to manage Australia's detention centres, an audit has found. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has identified a series of anomalies, potential conflicts and inadequate record-keeping in a review of the department's contracts with companies paid to run the centres. The department put detention centre management out to tender in 2001 and a $400 million, four-year contract with Global Solutions Limited (GSL) was ultimately signed in August, 2003. But the ANAO has found DIMIA, now DIMA, wanted to "encourage" the former contractor to end its management of the centres with a contract "completion payment". As a result, Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) received a payout of almost $6 million. "DIMIA was not able to provide evidence of the criteria it used to make its determination to pay ACM $5.7 million in contract completion payments," the ANAO said in its report. "The basis on which DIMIA made these payments was doubtful," it said. Labor says the audit's findings are a scandal. "What we have is nothing short of a scandal in the way the government has handled this," opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke said. "The people who were involved in the negotiations of the contracts on behalf of the department became horribly compromised. "Records weren't kept, records were lost, and some of the records that we have are conflicting."

July 29, 2005 ABC
Detention centre operator to pay for maltreatment.  The private operators of Australia's detention centres, Global Solutions Limited (GSL), will be penalised more than $500,000 for poorly handling five immigration detainees.  The GSL officers have been accused of treating the detainees in an inhumane and undignified manner when the detainees were being transferred from Maribyrnong detention centre in Victoria to the Baxter centre in South Australia in September 2004. An investigation has found that the GSL officers used force against one detainee.  It has also found that overall they failed to provide adequate medical assessment, deprived the detainees of toilet breaks, did not allow them to rest and did not give them enough food during a seven-hour road trip.

May 13, 2003
A year after a national call for the release of all children from immigration detention centres, a study has found unprecedented rates of mental illness among young asylum seekers.  The study of 10 families found that just one child out of a total of 22 children and 14 adults was not suffering a major depression.  Some were suicidal, and had harmed themselves. Some were also suffering from post traumatic stress disorders, which started, or worsened, during their detention.  Findings from the study, to form the the keynote address at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists congress in Hobart today, were said to be causing great concern among health professionals.  "There isn't a cohort of children as distressed as this group that we have been able to find anywhere in the medical literature in the world," said Zachary Steel, who co-ordinated the study. Mr Steel is a clinical psychologist in the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales. The study's findings come a year after an alliance of doctors and health professionals called for the immediate release of children from detention centres and a review of Australia's detention policies.  The study's findings come a year after an alliance of doctors and health professionals called for the immediate release of children from detention centres and a review of Australia's detention policies.  (The Age)

February 17, 2003
Children held in Australian immigration detention camps spend an average of 15 months behind the razor wire. One child was detained for more than five years, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock told Parliament.  Labor MP Tanya Plibersek said most Australians would be shocked to learn how long children were detained.  (The Age)

August 27, 2002
A night spent in immigration detention can cost an asylum seeker more than a quality bed in some five-star hotels. The Federal Government bills detainees up to $191 per person for each day spent behind barbed wire. The price of a night in detention, however, varies across the nation's six immigration compounds: some detainees can be kept more frugally - for $60 a night per person, an Immigration Department spokeswoman confirmed. The Migration Act makes detainees liable for all costs the government incurs in keeping them detained, from food to one-way air fares out of the country if they are deported. Inquiries by The Age confirm some former detainees who have been released into the community have received bills in excess of $200,000. (The Age)  

Australasian Correctional Management Pty Limited
Australia
Wackenhut
July 9, 2004
A damning report by the Auditor-General, released two weeks ago, showed initial detention arrangements with private prison operators Australian Centre Management to be a farce. Appalling hygiene and frequent escapes perpetuated by ACM's lackadaisical attitude to detainees was highlighted as a failure of the immigration department.  With a second report by the Auditor-General expected to detail arrangements with ACM's replacement Global Systems Management later this year, the department maintains it.  (The Austrailian)

March 17, 2004
The company dumped last year as manager of Australia's immigration detention centres could soon be back in charge if a change of ownership goes ahead.  Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (now known as the Geo Group) has offered $490 million to buy Global Solutions, the company now managing the centres.  The Geo Group also owns the company formerly known as Australasian Correctional Management, now Geo Australia.  ACM was stripped of management of the detention centres in December 2002, less than halfway through a 10-year contract.  Its four-year tenure was dogged by riots, hunger strikes, suicide attempts and allegations of human rights abuses at the six detention centres under its management, including Woomera, Port Hedland, Villawood and Maribyrnong.  ACM earned an estimated $328 million during the life of its contract.  But the transfer of management was criticised at the time because both ACM and Global Solutions were owned by the Danish firm Group 4 Falck.  Group 4 later sold off Wackenhut Corrections, which changed its name to the Geo Group last December.  Group 4 Falck, which is merging with British security firm Securicor, now wants to sell Global Solutions.  And the prime bidder is the Geo Group – which has offered $490 million.  An Immigration Department official said the department was aware of the corporate manoeuvres.  He said the sale of Global Solutions was a matter for the two companies, but there were provisions in the detention service contract about changes of the contractor which would have to be met before any change of ownership could take place.  "The department is currently in dialogue with GSL (Global Solutions) to resolve these matters prior to the sale proceeding," he said.  The conditions of the contract remain confidential.  Opposition immigration spokesman Stephen Smith yesterday said: "This is but another illustration as to why the management of detention centres needs to be returned to Commonwealth officers on Commonwealth territory.  "You can take over a company but you can't take over the Commonwealth," Mr Smith said.  Howard Glenn, national director of A Just Australia, said he had reservations about management of the detention centres returning to the same hands.  The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was soon to release a report into the treatment of children in detention under ACM's management.  Mr Glenn said the report could be highly critical of ACM.  "There's kids who have been in detention through all the owners, for over three years," Mr Glenn said.  "While the company structures change, there's no action from the Government in moving these kids out.  "Before giving the keys back to this company who had it in the crisis days of 2001, let's hear what the Human Rights Commission says."  (The Courier Mail)

September 26, 2003
The Government has been hiding the real reasons why a private company lost the contract to run six immigration detention centres.  The Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, is covering up the poor performance of Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) when it managed six of Australia's immigration detention centres from February 1998 to December 2002. Also covering up the poor performance is the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (Dimia), which is acting in the commercial interests of ACM despite continuing revelations about the poor performance of the company.  BRW has discovered a serious contractual breach relating to ACM and its handling of an escape that the department is keeping secret. Despite the seriousness of the breach - and the amount of about $90 million in taxpayers' money paid to the company for each year of the contract - the Federal Government refuses to disclose details about why a default notice was served on ACM.  It also brings into question the Government's claim that ACM lost the contract to manage the detention centres because of poor value for money rather than poor performance.  After a lengthy freedom-of-information request that began in May 2002, BRW has established that the department secretary, Bill Farmer, or his agent, issued a default notice to ACM under the contract. The default notice, which warns that a contact may be cancelled, was issued between March 1, 2001 and September 5, 2002. The assistant secretary of unauthorised arrivals and detention services, Jim Williams, wrote to BRW on September 5: "I believe that there is a real risk that disclosure of the document would cause unreasonable harm to ACM's business reputation and potentially prejudice its ability to perform competitively in its industry."  Despite a long history of violent incidents at detention centres, including a mass breakout from Woomera detention centre, South Australia, in June 2000 and a riot in August 2000, it is the only default notice issued by Dimia to ACM under its "general agreement" contract. In October 2000, the Victorian Government took back the contract for the Melbourne Metropolitan Women's Correctional Centre, in Deer Park, after issuing three default notices to its operator, Corrections Corporation of Australia.  ACM held the detention centre contract from February 1998. Dimia announced on May 25, 2001 that it would be re-tendering the contract. On December 22, 2002 Ruddock announced that Dimia would enter negotiations with another company, Group 4 Falck, to provide detention centre services. Group 4 Falck is a majority owner of ACM's United States owner, Wackenhut Corrections Corp.  Dimia's sensitivity to ACM's business reputation is characteristic of its defence of ACM in numerous public inquiries. In 2001, despite direct questions about ACM's performance under the contract, Dimia staff, including Farmer and the then deputy secretary Andrew Metcalfe (now promoted to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) said the removal of the contract from ACM was based on value-for-money reasons.  Since some of Dimia's stonewalling defences of ACM in 2001, the poor performance of ACM in managing detention centres has been revealed even more starkly. In July 2002, the former operations officer at the Woomera detention centre, Allan Clifton, told the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Com-mission inquiry into children in immigration detention that it was regular ACM practice to inflate figures on services provided. He also said that staff at Woomera were under-resourced in training, numbers and medical supplies, and that children had been endangered in riots. (Business Review Weekly)

December 23, 2002
The new manager of Australia's detention centres will have to comply with a 51-page list of obligations to detainees if it is to receive the full value of the $100 million-plus contract.  The manager, Group 4, will have to provide native-language newspapers and agree to a requirement that the Immigration Department be told within one hour if any detainee is placed under restraint.  The list exposes Group 4 to fines if standards are breached.  The present operator, Australasian Correctional Management, which lost its contract renewal bid at the weekend, had been subject to only a four-page general statement of detention principles during its six-year term.  The ALP has described the new contract with Group 4 - whose international parent merged with ACM earlier this year - as a "sham".  It was inappropriate with an international business in corrections to be handling detention centres, it said.  A union representing detention centre workers warned yesterday that there could be industrial strife if ACM did not pay outstanding entitlements before departing the scene.  It claimed that ACM was yet to pay staff 2002 wage increases.  (The Age)

December 23, 2002
RIOTS, arson attacks, hunger strikes and lip-sewing protests were no match for the dollar yesterday when the Federal Government replaced the private operators of Australia's detention centres for a better deal.  As a refugee activists vowed to stage mass protests this Easter at the new Baxter Detention Centre near Port Augusta, Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock yesterday announced his preferred contractor for the centres.  Austalian Correctional Management lost the multi-million dollar deal to Group 4, Falck Global Solutions Pty Ltd, with which it recently merged.  (The Advertiser)

October 9, 2002
Australia's immigration department and detention centre management have been told they must give evidence in public to a national inquiry into child detention.  The Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) and Australiasian Correctional Management (ACM) have wanted secret hearings, arguing open evidence could put staff and detainees at risk.  However Australian Human Rights Commissioner Sev Ozdowski today rejected submissions arguing the confidential nature of their evidence justified a private hearing.  DIMIA and ACM will now have to publicly release any documents required by the commission.  In today's report, Dr. Ozdowski said each document needed to be assessed at face value, and the majority of documents requested by the commission would not pose a credible risk to safety.  DIMIA and ACP's argument that the inquiry would hinder tender processes for new detention services did not satisfy the commissioner.  "I have decided that any prejudice to the tender process that may be caused by the holding of public hearings involving DIMIA and ACM is outweighed by the public interest in the inquiry being held in an open, efficient and timely manner," Dr. Ozdowski said.  (Smh.au.com)

May 1, 2002
Police arrested 31 protesters, charging one for using firecrackers on police horses, during May Day protests in Sydney today.  City East regional commander Dick Adams said about 400 protesters took part in today's May Day action.  One horse fell, bringing a policewoman down with it.  The horse was quickly up, while the policewoman rolled onto her side with horses stepping all around her.  The policewoman returned and remounted, joining the drive to clear the protesters from the driveway leading into the building housing ACM.  (smh.com)

May 1, 2002
Police and M1 protesters have clashed outside the Australasian Correctional Management building in Sydney this morning.  Police attempted to push back the protest line after about 100 demonstrators moved from the front to the side garage entrance.  More than 500 people gathered to blockade the front of the building, with protesters letting off bungers and chanting before the clash.  (The Age)

October 4, 2001
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation/ -- In the news release, "Wackenhut Corrections' (NYSE: WHC) Australian Subsidiary Renews and Expands Health Care Services Contract for Victoria Public Corrections Enterprise," issued Sept. 18, 2001, we are advised by the company that the headline should read "Wackenhut Corrections' Australian Subsidiary Is Nominated as the Preferred Tenderer of the Health Care Services Contract for Victoria Public Corrections Enterprise." Also, the first paragraph, third line, should read "Australasian Correctional Management Pty Limited ("ACM")has been nominated as the preferred tenderer of the health care services contract for The Public Corrections Enterprise, Victoria ('CORE') -- with the final outcome of the tender process contingent on a number of other factors, including purchase and funding approval" rather than "Australasian Correctional Management Pty Limited ('ACM') has renewed and expanded its health care services contract.  

Baxter Detention Centre
South Australia, Australia
Global Solutions (formerly run by Group 4 and by Wackenhut Corrections)

September 6, 2011 The Australian
THE refugee lawyer who helped extract a multi-million-dollar payout for Cornelia Rau from the Howard government is preparing multiple civil lawsuits on behalf of asylum-seekers who claim they were assaulted and drugged on Christmas Island during mass escapes and rioting in March. George Newhouse will also ask West Australian police to investigate alleged assaults, sedations and wrongful detention of boatpeople as far back as July 2009 when Labor awarded a five-year contract to security firm Serco. Mr Newhouse told The Australian he was acting for detainees who had been isolated at Christmas Island's high-security "behaviour management unit" called Red Block, had their possessions taken from them and who believed sedatives had been put in their food without their knowledge. "I have been approached by a number of former detainees from Christmas Island who say that they were sedated without their consent and we are putting together a brief for the West Australian police," he said. Mr Newhouse intends to advertise in the Arabic and Farsi press for other detainees to come forward. The advertisement, entitled "A Message to All Former Immigration Detainees", states in part: "If you were assaulted, had your possessions taken from you, sedated without your consent and/or moved into restrictive custody, you may be entitled to pursue your legal rights and entitlements." The push comes six years after Ms Rau, an Australian resident, won a payout reported to be $2.6 million over her wrongful detention at Baxter detention centre. The treatment of Ms Rau, a psychiatric patient, sparked a government inquiry into the possible wrongful detention of more than 200 people. Mr Newhouse worked on that case and said yesterday he still had serious concerns about the use of force on immigration detainees, who were "obviously seriously mentally unwell". He said he regarded any sedation of anyone without their knowledge or consent as an assault. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship was not aware of any instance of detainees being sedated without their knowledge or consent. "The department requires medical intervention to occur with the person's consent within immigration detention facilities at all times. This includes sedation," a spokesman said. The Australian has been told at least two detainees allege they were assaulted and sedated on Christmas Island between March 13 and March 17 after being deemed ringleaders.

September 13, 2008 Sidney Morning Herald
About 10 o'clock one evening in January 2003, Mary Rohde got out of her four-wheel-drive to lock the gate to the visitor carpark at the Baxter immigration detention facility near Port Augusta, where she was a detention officer. She felt a presence but saw no one, and returned to the car to radio the control room. Suddenly an arm was round her neck, a blade at her throat. Terror and incomprehension overwhelmed her. Eventually the arm loosened and she looked round; in the back seat was her boss. It had been a security drill. "That'll teach her to lock the car door," a supervisor later remarked. Rhode was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and, five years later, has not recovered, despite psychiatric treatment. Her symptoms are typical. She suffers from nightmares and insomnia. She cannot manage social situations, cannot sit in a doctor's waiting room; even visits from her adult children are too much to cope with. Half an hour after they arrive she finds herself weeping in her bedroom. "I'm now the shell of the person I was. I drink and take drugs; for me to cope, that's what I have to do," she says. Rohde is one of many former officers who developed post-traumatic stress disorder and other stress-related disorders while working in detention centres around Australia. Statistics from WorkCover South Australia record 62 claims for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders made by guards at Woomera and Baxter. Many are unlikely to work again. We have been told a lot about the impact of detention on asylum seekers, but not about the impact on those who worked there. By 1999 leaky vessels were making their way to Australia carrying mostly asylum seekers from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Arrival numbers overwhelmed detention centres at Curtin and Port Hedland, both in northern Western Australia. The overflow shifted to a makeshift camp near Woomera, South Australia, where they languished in desert heat until given visas or sent home. Five hundred kilometres from Adelaide, with access to the detention centre barred to almost all, it was impossible for outsiders to know what happened within. Woomera's carrying capacity was 400. By April 2000 it held more than 1400 detainees, and officers were needed to keep order. Detention services were privatised by the Howard government in 1997. The successful tenderer was Australasian Correctional Management, or ACM, a subsidiary of the US giant Wackenhut corporation, which ran private jails in Australia and overseas. Many ACM detention centre officers had been jail staff but the company also advertised for them. With free accommodation and the minimum requirement of five 12-hour shifts a week, the conditions seemed excellent - about $1200 a week. For Rohde, recently separated from her husband and experiencing financial difficulties, the job seemed a godsend. Many officers believed they were on important duty. In 2000 Australians got the message they were under siege; that the boatloads surely included terrorists. Still others thought this was a chance to show kindness. Within weeks, the new recruits would find themselves kitted up in riot gear and wielding batons, extinguishing fires, or cutting down would-be suicides. Trevor Robertson signed up to Woomera in June 2000. He had recently completed training as a prison officer in Brisbane. His partner, Kendall Jones, expecting their first child, urged him to apply. As with Rohde, the move would be the mistake of their lives. An imposing figure, Robertson was respected by colleagues and soon became a supervisor. When Woomera closed and the operation transferred to the Baxter centre near Port Augusta, Robertson went too. One former colleague remembers him as even-tempered, fair and good in a crisis - "the best operator at Woomera". Robertson has been unable to work, his marriage teeters in the balance, and he rarely leaves the loungeroom of his modest Port Augusta home. He does not socialise, and spends his time bent over the computer, poring over state and federal law, or on the phone to any bureaucrat or politician who will talk to him about immigration detention. It is an obsession. He has reflected long and hard about why it all went so wrong in immigration detention centres. All the officers interviewed for this story said training was inadequate. In an intensive four- to six-week course, new recruits practised restraint and riot drills, became familiar with the Migration Act, and were encouraged to treat detainees with respect. Robertson does not think any training could have prepared officers for the dire daily situations. He told ABC TV's Four Corners program that three days after training he was at Woomera when 500 detainees attempted to escape. The job was close to impossible. Detention centres became violent; chaos reigned. These desert prisons held people who were distressed and traumatised for months or years on end, waiting for news on their visa applications. Many eventually became deranged. Riots, hunger strikes, self-harm and suicide attempts were common. Officers became the focus of detainee anger and resentment, and threats were made against them and their families. It angers Robertson that he and colleagues were denied help. "We were the police; we were the mental health-care workers; we were the social workers," he recalls bitterly. Detention centres had rules, and most detainees obeyed them. A core group, however, was troublesome and the only consequence of their behaviour was incarceration in the "management unit", a form of solitary confinement where detainees frequently became so unmanageable it was easier to return them to their compounds. Troublemakers lit fires, smashed windows, stood over and bullied others and assaulted officers with relative impunity. Experts argue that incarceration in detention centres induces mental illness. According to ACM statistics for October 2001, three psychologists saw 764 residents at Woomera. A psychiatrist visited every few weeks, but daily care of people with mental illness was left to untrained officers. Rod Gigney, a kindly officer, would bribe Anna with fruit, trying to curb her behaviour. The young woman wandered around naked at Baxter and defecated on the floor. To officers less sympathetic, Anna was just a heroin-addicted, damned nuisance. She turned out to be the schizophrenic German-born Australian Cornelia Rau. Gigney made many reports about Anna to management, without effect. Carol Wiltshire was deeply concerned about a woman who had not left her room for 10 months. She was catatonic, covered in bedsores and unable to tend to her small child. Wiltshire's supervisor suggested she "poke her with a stick and see if she's still alive". It was another month before she was transferred to Adelaide's Glenside mental health facility. Understaffing was significant and chronic. Often an officer as young as 20 would be left alone in a compound where three officers were required, leaving them vulnerable and insecure. Sean Ferris was alone at Baxter when a riot broke out. He locked himself in the office, which was pounded with stones and set alight. Simon Forsyth, then 21, faced a fire on his first shift at Baxter. He did not know how to use the extinguisher. An October 2005 report recounts the incident that ended Robertson's career. By then, Baxter detainees were predominantly visa overstayers and criminals awaiting deportation. There was a fight, Robertson was assaulted and "suddenly I lost control". "I was really trying to hurt people; I had my hands around their throats." And that was that. The once solid and reliable officer, mentor to fellow workers, finally cracked. Battered, bruised and hysterical, he was driven home. When he said he was fit to return to work three weeks later, he broke down, was subsequently diagnosed with an adjustment disorder and has not worked since. Clive Skinn, a Port Augusta local who worked at Woomera and Baxter, loathes all detainees. Sitting uncomfortably on the couch in Robertson's lounge room, he is tense with anger. "My body is full of hatred," Skinn says. He had not given refugees a thought before he went to Woomera; he knew nothing about Muslims. On his second day on the job, a detainee head-butted him. Another spat at him soon after. Wiltshire says Skinn was never the same after having to cut down a man who attempted to hang himself. Life became unmanageable. Skinn was quick to anger, could not get on with his children, could not sleep. He awoke suddenly one morning convinced that there were Muslims in his house. He seized a chair and trashed the place, smashed windows and the TV, broke holes in the walls. He was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and spent 18 months on workers' compensation. While still profoundly affected, he holds down a job in an underground mine at Roxby Downs, but the past catches up with him. "I'd like to kill them all," Skinn says of detainees. "And I feel the same way about the children. They were as bad as the parents." Gigney's breakdown was a consequence of concern for detainees. He listened to their despair, smuggled extra milk rations for children, and watched helplessly as they suffered physically and mentally. A boy, 12, was among the three would-be suicides he cut down. Officers who displayed compassion were held in contempt by many co-workers, and became known as "care bears". The diminutive and softly spoken Annie Brown (not her real name), 55, thought working at Baxter would be an opportunity to help the unfortunate. Each day she would say to herself, "I've got 12 hours to make these people's lives better." For this she was taunted and ridiculed by fellow officers; for Annie, the worst part of work at Baxter was the attitude of many co-workers. Annie's husband is also a former Baxter officer. "We were people who had normal lives," Annie says through tears. "We don't have them any more." After being ignored by superiors, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and agoraphobia, and for a year could not leave her house. Many people with post-traumatic stress disorder have to confront the fact that what was normality is not likely to return. This is Rohde's reality. "I want my life back," she says. "But the psychiatrist has said that I will never be the person I was before. I have to try to learn to live with the person I am now." Three years since his diagnosis, Robertson shows no sign of improvement. For Kendall, life with Trevor is close to unbearable. She says he is distant, obnoxious and arrogant. He gets angry with the children, impatient, distracted. He does not go to bed until 3am, and rises late. As Jones and Robertson do seemingly fruitless battle with bureaucrats, they are frustrated that former detainees can pursue compensation for psychological damage but former officers cannot. Gigney continues to try to find work. In his home town of Whyalla the mining boom is in full swing, but being sound of body is not enough for him to take advantage of it. He has just made his second attempt to get a truck driver's licence. He would pulled over to answer his phone when a water truck went past, triggering a flashback to the water cannon used during riots at Woomera, and an incident involving children. He sat in the cabin and wept. In the suburban Adelaide pub where she works as a kitchenhand, Wiltshire shares a drink with another former officer, Barbara Zillner. The camaraderie among former officers is akin to that between Vietnam War veterans - no one else comprehends what they went through. In 2000 Wiltshire, a single mother doing it tough, saw Woomera as a chance to escape the poverty trap. Like others, she broke down, diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. Her road to recovery has been hard, but she now holds down a job and a relationship. Having recovered a measure of equilibrium in her life, she looks back and wonders at what she went through. "I was proud to be a detention centre officer, protecting Australia's borders. Then I changed. I became a monster, a cowboy, like all the other officers. They were all driven crazy. When I look back, I just think - what the hell did I do that for? To end up hating people for no reason."

November 14, 2007 The Age
THE Federal Government faces another humiliating compensation payout that could run into millions of dollars as a result of court action taken by a Vietnamese-born man. Tony Tran, 35, was unlawfully detained for more than five years and badly bashed in early 2005 at the Baxter Detention Centre by a mentally ill inmate with a history of violence, a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria says. He was also separated from his son Hai and not told by the Government in 2000 that Hai, then two years old, would be taken by the boy's mother to South Korea, the country of her birth. Three years later the boy was left by his mother with Mr Tran's brother in Australia and later placed in foster care for 14 months after the brother could no longer care for Hai. Mr Tran is seeking compensation from the Federal Government for physical and psychological damage. If successful, any compensation was likely to run into millions of dollars, said litigation expert Anne Gooley, from Maurice Blackburn Cashman. "How do you compensate somebody for detaining them unlawfully for five years?" she said. Ms Gooley expects the case to be settled before it goes to a full hearing.

April 9, 2007 The Australian
THE Federal Government says it is still waiting for a list of claims from the lawyers for Cornelia Rau, an Australian resident detained as an illegal immigrant. Ms Rau's lawyers said today they would sue the Government over her treatment, amid difficulties in reaching a negotiated resolution. Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said the Government still hoped to reach an out-of-court settlement. "The Government has written to Ms Rau's lawyer a number of times over the past few months seeking to obtain a list of claims to enable the Commonwealth to settle this matter," Mr Andrews said through a spokeswoman. "We wish to settle it as expeditiously as possible. "We're just waiting on Ms Rau to provide us with a list of her claims. We can't process a final settlement ... quickly without actually receiving a claim for what she may wish to have compensation for. George Newhouse, one of Ms Rau's solicitors, said the Government's contracting out of Baxter detention centre's operations to Global Solutions Limited appeared to have complicated his client's compensation claim. "The Commonwealth Government has its own financial arrangements with the operators of the detention centre that appear to be complicating Cornelia's case," he said. "That's not Cornelia Rau's problem. It was the Commonwealth Government that set up this ridiculous system of immigration detention. "She shouldn't suffer because of the Commonwealth Government's privatisation of detention."

December 12, 2006 ABC News
More than 30 detainees are reported to be staging a protest at the Baxter detention centre near Port Augusta in South Australia. A caller to the ABC, who says he is a detainee at Baxter, says a group of detainees has blocked the front gate of the detention centre, and others are on a hunger strike. He says the protest follows reports of several detainees harming themselves to draw attention to their frustrations. "It's just a process of long-term immigration detention, it's unnecessary, it's unreasonable," he said. "Any other country in the world - and Australia is a wonderful country - but any other country in the world, they detain you for 30 days, they identify you, then they release you. "There is no purpose for us being here. "We have been vilified by the Government in order to justify our detention. This is unfair." The Immigration Department says there have been five incidents in the past four days. The Department says this morning a detainee was taken to hospital after an incident that is still being investigated. It says two detainees jumped from the roof on Friday, a detainee climbed a tree on Saturday and was treated for heat exhaustion when he came down, and on Sunday another man climbed onto a roof before coming down again.

October 31, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
THE Federal Government is winding back private management of immigration detention centres after years of controversy over the compromised health and psychological care of detainees. The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, said yesterday the Government was relieving a private company of its responsibility for health and psychological services, which would be transferred to the direct control of her department. The move follows the recommendations of a review triggered by the Palmer report into the deficiencies of care in detention highlighted by the case of Cornelia Rau, the psychiatric patient whose illness went undiagnosed for several months. Global Solutions Ltd, whose management of health services has drawn criticisms of care standards and conflict of interest, denied the loss of services was "in any way the result of dissatisfaction with the services provided" by Global Solutions. A company spokesman said the review of the centres had not criticised the health and psychological services it managed. But the company's management of the centres and detainee health services had represented a "fundamental conflict of interest", said Louise Newman, a psychiatrist and a member of a government expert advisory panel on detention health. Professor Newman said the failings in health care and psychological services, highlighted by the Rau saga and other cases of inadequate care, had resulted in "incalculable" suffering for detainees.

March 20, 2006 The Age
AT LEAST two long-term immigration detainees — one held for 6½ years — are in a psychiatric hospital after developing mental problems while in detention, the Greens claim. The man who has spent more than six years in detention, a 34-year-old from Bangladesh, was moved from Baxter detention centre last August to Adelaide's Glenside psychiatric hospital. The other man, whose family are Australian citizens, has been detained for more than two years. "This period of time in detention makes this man another Peter Qasim, the long-term detainee who was recently released after seven years," Greens senator Kerry Nettle said. Their cases have been raised by the Greens as up to 100 detainees at Sydney's Villawood detention centre entered the fourth day of a hunger strike aimed at forcing the release of mentally ill detainees held for more than two years.

March 3, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
A DAY of turmoil in the nation's immigration system ended with the Federal Government backing down on several fronts yesterday. It agreed to pay damages to a boy traumatised in detention and allowed a deported Melbourne man to return to Australia on humanitarian grounds. A damning report released by an independent auditor yesterday also raised questions about a successful 2003 bid by the immigration detention contractor GSL, whose contract the Government refused to renew on Wednesday. In Sydney, an 11-year-old Iranian, Shayan Badraie, was offered damages for trauma he suffered in Woomera and Villawood detention centres. The move comes after a 63-day Supreme Court hearing. While in detention between March 2000 and August 2001, the boy became severely traumatised after witnessing riots, a stabbing and a string of other disturbing incidents. He subsequently spent 94 days in hospital, and still requires treatment. Commonwealth lawyers approached lawyers representing Shayan this week to offer a settlement for damages. The exact sum will be fixed at a hearing this morning but is expected to be more than $1 million. Meanwhile, the immigration detention contractor GSL was found to have been hired even though it was more expensive and provided inferior services to competitors, the National Audit Office announced yesterday. GSL's bid was $32.6 million higher than that of the incumbent detention centre operator, ACM, when the latter's bid expired. The audit office found the basis on which ACM was paid $5.7 million after it missed out on the contract was "doubtful", since the department was only required to compensate for matters pertaining to detention. Immigration could not provide evidence of the criteria under which the sum was paid. The audit also found the head of the steering committee, which was heavily involved in the evaluation of the bids, gave a reference for ACM's bid. An independent probity adviser told the steering committee seven months later that this should not happen again.

March 2, 2006 The Age
THE CONTROVERSIAL private operator of Australia's detention centres will not have its lucrative $90-million-a-year contract extended. An independent review, carried out in the wake of the Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez Solon scandals, found that changes to the contract were required. Yesterday Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said all detention services would be re-tendered as part of sweeping reforms to prevent a repeat of the problems that engulfed the Immigration Department last year. GSL, which also operates Victoria's Port Phillip Prison, took over the running of Australia's detention centres in late 2003. The company has come under intense scrutiny, with critics claiming it has introduced a punitive prison regime to detention centres, including the use of solitary confinement. In July last year GSL was penalised more than $500,000 after a report said five detainees endured 6½ hours in the back of a van with no toilet breaks and no food or water while being transferred between the Maribyrnong and Baxter detention centres. Senator Vanstone said that although there was an option to extend the contract with GSL when it expired late next year, the Government had decided to re-tender after a report by former Health Department deputy secretary Mick Roche found changes to the contract were required.The Palmer report on the treatment of Cornelia Rau, an Australian resident wrongfully detained for 10 months in a Brisbane jail and the Baxter detention centre, was scathing about the inadequate health care she received at Baxter. It also said the Government's contract with GSL was "fundamentally flawed" and failed to deliver the immigration detention policy expected by the Government. A damning Auditor-General's report last year said health standards in detention centres were not clearly spelt out in the contract. Another National Audit Office Report, to be tabled in Parliament today, is also expected to be critical of the detention services contract.

January 31, 2006 Scoop
The Victorian Greens Spokesperson on Refugees, Peter Job, today expressed his concerns about growing discontent amongst asylum seekers about their treatment in Baxter detention centre due to the Intransigent policies of the Department of Immigration and its subcontractor Global Solutions Limited. Mr. Job explained that he had just completed a three day visit to Baxter, during which he met with over twenty detainees from a variety of backgrounds. “Despite claims from the Department to be cleaning up its act, the detainees I spoke to claimed the situation in Baxter is actually getting worse, giving consistent accounts of increasingly repressive and heavy handed treatment by management,” Mr. Job said. “They spoke of increasingly intrusive and undignified searches of their bodies and property, especially when accessing the visitor’s compound. They spoke of run down facilities, where broken telephones, kitchen items and leisure facilities were not fixed for months, despite continued requests from detainees. They also continued to complain about the appalling quality of the food, which they claimed had not improved despite the Minister’s assurances to the contrary. “Above all they pointed to a culture in which their opinions and complaints are belittled and ignored, where incidents of discontent are further provoked rather than deescalated, and in which detainees are given little respect as human beings.”

November 23, 2005 Green Left Weekly
I wasn't involved in the asylum seeker debate in 2001 when the government's actions on Tampa were, in their opinion, decisive in getting them re-elected. It was an accident of circumstance that my family was given a voice this past year: we had an obligation to point out the hypocrisy of having one set of rights for citizens and another for suspected "illegals" who are left to rot for years in detention centres without the rule of law to protect them. Even though it took months for all the nasty specifics of Cornelia's treatment to emerge, the broader themes were clear from the outset: the lack of morality - not to mention the expense - of detaining innocent people and hiding them away in the desert; the overall levels of secrecy; the farming out of detention centres to for-profit corporations; the use of punitive isolation to control behaviour; the unchecked power of ill-qualified immigration bureaucrats and privately employed security guards; and the absence of judicial review. The failures exposed by Cornelia's case have hardly been addressed. The reforms emanating from Mick Palmer's inquiry into the wrongful imprisonment of Cornelia have given a greater review role to the federal ombudsman (but only after someone's been detained for two years) and many long-term detainees are being quietly released. A couple of sports fields have been added to Baxter and some of the razor wire in Villawood coming down with great fanfare - only to be replaced by electrified fence. In detention centres, the lack of palatable food has been a deeply felt source of contention. The food issue, so seemingly trivial when compared with indefinite detention, can lead to avoidable tension and abuses. This has not changed. Cornelia's case: In early February, Cornelia was just another non-person in Baxter, receiving no treatment for a florid psychosis. The rest of our family was living in suburban obscurity. We were dragged into public life in early February 2005 when the media became interested. Even before the government announced the Palmer inquiry - only five days after Cornelia was identified - we were getting calls from people with information about what had happened to her during her brush with DIMIA. I was determined to expose the more appalling misuses of power during Cornelia's time behind the wire, much of it in punitive isolation. In the first few days, Senator Amanda Vanstone's office put out various bits of misinformation about how wonderful DIMIA had been to Cornelia and to us. No-one had contacted us. We learned of the phantom medical care being given to detainees. There were horrific cases of neglect: the young child with a broken thumb, which turned purple and swollen in the week it took for him to get medical attention; the man complaining of severe headaches who was fobbed off with Panadol for two years until he collapsed one night between compounds and started to turn blue after which he was finally rushed to hospital where neurosurgeons operated for 12 hours to contain the burst aneurism. There was the woman in Villawood in NSW who couldn't establish breastfeeding with her newborn because guards were in her hospital room 24 hours a day. During the delivery, a guard even gowned up to watch the caesarian, worried no doubt, she might jump up from the table and abscond during the procedure. There were stories of sexual assaults by guards, and in one case, a hastily arranged abortion. Many of our interviewees were worried about repercussions and asked for confidentiality. The former detainees and their families were able to tell us how places like Baxter really worked in practice, how the medical services that DIMIA described in such glowing terms, breached the duty of care requirements. Interview transcripts and court affidavits, including from DIMIA staff that flagrantly contradicted the sort of eyewitness evidence we were getting, were passed onto the university. One such chilling document was the "Behaviour Management Plan" (BMP) from Global Solutions Limited (GSL, the company that runs Baxter among other corrections institutions), which set out rules for detainees in the punishment compound at Baxter, Red One. This is where Cornelia spent 94 days in a psychosis, which had been discerned by other detainees. Evidence we were given showed GSL even flouted its own management plan for much of the time Cornelia was in Red One. For example, detainees have to sign a consent to the BMP before they enter the compound. Cornelia signed no such document. Under the strictest stage of the plan, detainees are allowed four hours out of their cell. In Cornelia's case, we were told by eyewitnesses that on many days she was given only two hours' egress, or none at all. At least on one occasion, Cornelia was punched in the chest so hard she fell backwards into her cell so the guards could lock her inside. [Abridged from a speech by Christine Rau, Cornelia's sister, to the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House on October 18. For the full text see <http://www.qpilch.org.au/>.]

November 14, 2005 The Age
THE Immigration Department says it will have no hesitation in pursuing criminal charges against detainees who allegedly lit a series of fires at the Baxter detention centre. One detainee was taken to hospital and five others were treated for smoke inhalation on Saturday as a result of four fires that destroyed 14 accommodation rooms and forced the evacuation of 58 detainees at the South Australian facility. The Immigration Department said the damage bill was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The fires forced the removal of 54 detainees to other parts of the centre. Four who are of interest to the police have been isolated and are under constant watch. The fires began in a kitchen, and fire authorities have said the fact there were a number of separate fires suggested there was some unrest at the centre.

November 12, 2005 The Age
One man has been taken to hospital and five others treated for smoke inhalation after a series of fires forced evacuations at the Baxter Detention centre in South Australia. Fifty-eight men being held in detention were evacuated from the White One compound after fires started at the Port Augusta centre around 4am local time a spokesman for the immigration department said. Six of those evacuated were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation with one of them taken to hospital for further treatment. The four separate fires caused more than $25,000 worth of damage and were probably deliberately lit, according to a fire services spokesman.

November 2, 2005 Sidney Morning Herald
Laws that follow through on the government's compromise deal with rebel backbenchers over its tough immigration detention policy were introduced to the lower house on Wednesday. Three-month time limits on deciding protection visa applications and decisions by the Refugee Review Tribunal are two of the major changes introduced in the bill. In addition, the department will be able to release the identity and photographs of people being detained when all other efforts to identify or locate them have failed. This is to rectify the reluctance on DIMIA's part to release information about the mentally ill Australian resident Cornelia Rau who was wrongly locked up in immigration detention for 10 months. Labor's immigration spokesman Tony Burke described the bill as "an incremental step in the right direction". Mr Burke wants the government's contracts with the private company running Australia's immigration detention centres, Global Solutions Ltd, terminated and the management of the centres returned to government hands.

September 13, 2005 The Australian
ILLEGAL immigrants held in detention will be offered taste testing of prospective menus and weekly barbecues in a further attempt by the Howard Government to soften its hardline image on asylum-seekers. The move follows complaints from detainees about the quality of food, including reports of maggot-infested meat, at the privately run Baxter Detention Centre at Port Augusta, South Australia. A confidential government report found food quality had been so bad at Baxter - administered by British conglomerate Global Solutions - that consultants witnessed three-quarters of meals being thrown in bins, with some detainees reporting they were prepared to eat only three or four main meals a week. The report says meals at Baxter often developed a "stewed" appearance, with food "very wet at times, the sauce unthickened and tasteless, or dried out". Immigration Department deputy secretary Bob Correll said yesterday food at Baxter had not been provided to standards required under the contract with GSL. He said there was a direct link between unrest in detention centres and food quality. "Sometimes food has not been served at correct temperature or it is bland," he said.
"Special requests in relation to cultural and religious issues were also not being met." The federal Government's $300million contract with GSL is under review. The Palmer Report into the case of Cornelia Rau - a mentally ill Australian resident wrongfully detained at Baxter - found that GSL's contract had "little emphasis on service quality or the establishment of an equitable detention environment".

September 6, 2005 The Age
CONDITIONS at Baxter detention centre are not conducive to good mental health, with more than a fifth of detainees on tranquillisers and anti-depressants, a damning report by a bipartisan parliamentary committee says. The joint standing committee on migration, chaired by Liberal backbencher Don Randall, spoke to about 25 long-term detainees during a visit to Baxter detention centre, near Port Augusta in South Australia, in April this year. "For the committee the three main concerns to emerge from the inspection were the length of detention, mental health in detention and the possibility of physical abuse," Mr Randall says in a report tabled in Parliament yesterday. "The committee cannot deny the impact of long-term detention."
When the committee visited Baxter on April 19, more than 50 of the 240 detainees were on anti-depressants and many slept for long periods during the day. The report comes two months after the scathing Palmer inquiry into the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau, which found mental health care at Baxter was inadequate by any standards.

August 26, 2005 The Age
Police have launched an investigation into claims that guards at South Australia's Baxter detention centre deliberately twisted an asylum seeker's leg until it broke. The Immigration Department has confirmed Peter Mode, a 24-year-old from Zimbabwe, suffered a broken fibula during a violent incident involving three detainees and several guards at the centre on Tuesday. South Australian police are investigating the incident and Mr Mode plans to make an official complaint. Mr Mode said he was assaulted by guards when he sought to protect another inmate, named John, after he threw his meal against a wall, complaining the fish being served to detainees tasted of dust. Mr Mode said seven guards arrived at John's room on Tuesday night to take him to the Red One maximum security unit. "I started arguing with them; 'No you can't take him out of his room, he had an operation last week'," Mr Mode told ABC Radio. "And then I was trying to struggle with them and then they pushed me down to the ground and then one of the officers held my leg. "I was kicking back (saying) 'Just leave me alone'. "Then they pushed the leg and it broke to the ankle." Mr Mode said he told the guard he had broken his leg but he continued to twist it.

August 2, 2005 The Age
The Immigration Department has admitted it had provided misleading answers about a group of detainees who were found to have been inhumanely treated during a transfer to Baxter detention centre. The department yesterday blamed private contractor Global Solutions Limited for its mistake, saying it was relying on information from the detention centre operator. A spokeswoman from the department's media unit admitted it had provided misleading answers to questions from The Age about the incident because "this is what we were told at the time". The admission has sparked renewed calls for GSL's contract to be terminated. Five detainees claimed they were forcibly removed from Maribyrnong detention centre on September 17 last year, put in the back of a van and driven for what seemed to be 10 hours with no toilet breaks and no food or water. In a detailed response to the allegations on September 21 last year, the department said the detainees travelled in "a special-purpose air-conditioned vehicle". "There was a break in a major regional centre a number of hours out of Melbourne where the detainees had a meal and stretched their legs for an hour," the spokeswoman said. "During the drive they had access to food and drink and secure places for toilet stops all along the routes, so the detainees only needed to ask if they required a stop." An independent report on the incident, released late on Friday night by the department, found that the detainees were treated in "an inhumane and undignified manner" and denied food, water and toilet breaks for 6½ hours on the Melbourne-Mildura leg of the journey. The report, by the former head of Queensland Corrective Services, Keith Hamburger, found that appeals for assistance from the detainees were disregarded. One of the detainees said he was forced to urinate "like a dog" in the compartment of the van where he was held. The report also found that force was used on one detainee and that the van used to transport them was "totally unsuitable" for the long trip from Melbourne to South Australia. The Immigration Department and GSL have apologised to the detainees, two managers have resigned and the company has been fined more than $500,000. The Immigration Department spokeswoman said yesterday that the "information (given to The Age) was what should have happened" and that the Hamburger report confirmed that GSL officers had given the department misleading information. "Someone from GSL has already been sanctioned for supplying wrong information to the department," she said. Labor's immigration spokesman, Tony Burke, said the episode showed a lack of clear lines of responsibility and communication. "The department should be out there on the front line so that it knows what's happening to detainees and so it can communicate the message rather than become an extension of the culture of cover-up," he said.

August 1, 2005 The Age
A traumatised asylum seeker has told how he was forced to urinate "same as dog" in the back of a van during a hellish trip between Maribyrnong and Baxter detention centres last year. A damning report, released late on Friday night by the Immigration Department, found that five detainees were denied food, water, medical treatment and toilet stops for six-and-a-half hours on the Melbourne-Mildura leg of the journey. The independent report found the detainees were humiliated and treated in an "inhumane and undignified manner". The asylum seeker, who does not want to be named in case it affects his visa application, told The Age a guard gave him 10 minutes' notice of his transfer last September from the Maribyrnong centre in Melbourne to Baxter north of Port Augusta in South Australia last year. "I wanted to call a lawyer. He said, 'No, take your stuff now'," the asylum seeker said. He said the five detainees were pushed into the van by guards working for detention centre operator Global Solutions Limited. One detainee, who struggled, broke a bone while being forced into the van, the asylum seeker said. He said the van, which was divided into compartments, was dark. The space he was put in was so small he couldn't move. "The guards said, 'If you die inside no one will know'," the man said. "I can't see anything. For eight hours there was no toilet, I had to go in the van, same as dog." He said the detainees were not fed until they arrived at Mildura police station, where they had an hour's break. "I can't believe it," he said. "GSL and the Immigration Department are the law, they can do anything. I didn't know much English, I didn't know what to say to who." He said that although he still felt angry, he did not want compensation. "I'm angry for treating me like a dog," he said. " I don't want money. All I want is for the minister to give me the visa." The Immigration Department apologised for the "very regrettable incident". New department secretary Andrew Metcalfe said GSL would be penalised more than $500,000 and he would refer the matter to police to investigate if criminal offences were committed. Two GSL managers have resigned.

July 25, 2005 Herald Sun
DETAINEES at the Baxter detention centre rioted on Friday night, causing up to $70,000 worth of damage to the complex. The riot was sparked by complaints of bad food, according to police.  Police are expected to charge some of the 25 detainees who damaged a kitchen, mess hall and store room during the disturbance.  The Department of Immigration said the five minute riot caused between $50,000 and $70,000 damage to the centre in South Australia's North. A Department spokesman said complaints about the evening meal of lamb aubergine sparked the riot in a compound called Blue Two.   Detainees damaged security cameras, lighting, tables, chairs and food warmers during the disturbance, the spokesman said.

July 14, 2005 The Age
The Immigration Department has stalled for weeks over transferring from Baxter to a psychiatric institution three severely depressed men who a mental health expert says need immediate hospital care.  This is despite the department being severely criticised by the Palmer inquiry over the inadequate mental health treatment it provides for immigration detainees. Former police commissioner Mick Palmer's report on the wrongful detention of mentally ill Cornelia Rau, which is highly critical of the department's culture, will be released today, with the Government's plans for action on mental health, identification and other aspects of immigration detention.

June 29, 2005
The Australian
IN his explosive report on the detention scandals, former police commissioner Mick Palmer refers to Cornelia Rau's four months in Baxter detention centre as "Anna's journey".  Using the name she took at the time of her admission to the South Australian holding centre, Mr Palmer tells how her mental health deteriorated inside Baxter, yet systemic failures allowed her to remain on the periphery of psychiatric care even after the intervention of the state's director of mental health. Anna arrived at Baxter, on the desert outskirts of Port Augusta, on October 6 without any documentation on her medical history. She was assessed and screened by a contract nurse but things soon got out of hand. "She was unco-operative during the medical induction, by crying, being confused and upset," Mr Palmer says. An assessment by Adam Micallef, a psychologist employed by Global Solutions Ltd, the company with the detention centre contract, was ordered for the next day as a "precaution". Medical papers were sent from Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre, including discharge papers from the Princess Alexandra Hospital. Micallef decided her problems appeared "behavioral", rather than stemming from mental illness. "Anna's behaviour continued to be bizarre," Mr Palmer says. Critically, Micallef wrote that Baxter was not equipped to handle cases such as Anna's, and he recommended that she be moved to an all-female compound such as the one in Villawood detention centre in Sydney. The option was never pursued. Anna had been a month in Baxter when she was seen by the centre's consulting psychiatrist, Andrew Frukacz. Despite two attempts, he was unable to make a definitive diagnosis. He recommended she be assessed in a mental health facility. Acting on Frukacz's advice, attempts were made to bring in South Australia's Rural Remote Mental Health Service to assess Anna. "The RRMHS triage team seemed unsure of their relationship with Baxter and said they would need to clarify matters and then get back," Mr Palmer says. "They did not do so." On November 12, Micallef called a psychiatrist working at Glenside -- South Australia's only dedicated mental health facility -- to discuss Anna's "issues" with Baxter staff. The psychiatrist advised that Anna's problems sounded behavioural but later told Mr Palmer no sense of urgency was conveyed to him at the time. The next day the RRMHS took Anna off their books as to be placed at its allocated beds in Glenside. But no-one at Baxter was told. Micallef sent Anna's psychiatric assessments to Glenside but there was not enough detail in the file to admit her to its waiting list. On New Years's Eve last year, NSW psychiatrist Louise Newman, Adelaide refugee lawyer Claire O'Conner and a local doctor visited 12 detainees at Baxter. After examining several of the detainees, they decided to commit two under the state's mental health act. By January 4, Baxter staff urged Glenside to accept and assess Anna. Three days later a rural doctor contracted to Baxter diagnosed possible "schizoid or schizotypal personality features and possibly schizophrenia", but further discussion with a Glenside psychiatrist resulted in no action.  On January 24, South Australia's then director of mental health services, Jonathon Phillips, offered to have Anna assessed at Glenside. Department of Immigration officials in Canberra sought RRMHS assistance to arrange this, but its director suggested she be examined at Baxter. "It was clear the efforts made by Glenside, RRMHS and Baxter were unco-ordinated and no one took overall responsibility for the arrangements to admit Anna to in-patient care," Mr Palmer says. Eight days later, after media reports of a mentally ill German woman in Baxter, it was finally decided that Anna be assessed under the Mental Health Act. That same day, it was revealed she was in fact Cornelia Rau.


June 5, 2005 The Advertiser
SECURITY guards have been moved on to the grounds of Glenside Mental Health Service to watch over nine Baxter detainees receiving treatment. The guards, employed by the Baxter Detention Centre operators, are costing an estimated $150,000 a month. Effectively, two guards have been assigned to each detainee. They operate out of a hired demountable hut which was recently delivered to the grounds of the hospital. State health officials have made it clear the guards are not welcome. Director of Mental Health, Learne Durrington, said she has approached the Immigration Department about the impact of the guards on other patients. "We're running a hospital here and it needs to be managed as a hospital," Ms Durrington said. "I've proposed that we get rid of the guards and replace them with our own staff who are better trained in mental health care." The Baxter guards are employees of Global Solutions Limited (GSL) subsidiary Group 4, the security company that has the contract to operate the Baxter Detention Centre. "We've taken additional troops from another part of our company," the spokesman, who did not wish to be named, said. "As a result we've got staff shortages and we're recruiting more people – mainly for our Baxter contract." One of the guards told a visitor to Glenside hospital the demountable was hired at a cost of $300 per day. Figures from the Miscellaneous Workers Union show the salary costs of the 54 daily eight-hour shifts to be more than $150,000 per month. A spokesman for the Glenside hospital confirmed two guards were allocated for each detainee. "That's 18 guards on three eight-hour shifts, making a total of 54 guards on a daily basis," he said. The increase in numbers of detainees needing mental health treatment has occurred subsequent to the Cornelia Rau case where an Australian resident suffering psychosis was wrongly detained in Baxter until her real identity was discovered in February this year. Health officials have confirmed that in the year prior to the Rau case only one person had been referred to Glenside, but now nine people were in treatment. Glenside hospital officials are still waiting for a response from the Commonwealth on the presence of the Group 4 guards. Meanwhile, the legal team assisting the Rau family's submission into the Palmer inquiry has questioned the timing of an internal Baxter memo about the identity of a detainee. A story in the Sunday Mail of November 21, 2004, described a missing woman as 168cm tall, 58kg, with dark blonde hair, brown eyes and a brown mole on her left cheek. It subsequently turned out to be Cornelia Rau. It's since been revealed that an internal memo dated November 24 raised the possibility a detainee was an Australian citizen. Legal representatives for the Rau family will ask the Palmer Inquiry to check if the memo was sparked by the article in the Sunday Mail.

February 9, 2005 The Age
The detention centre where mentally ill Australian Cornelia Rau was wrongly held was not visited by a psychiatrist for at least three months last year, documents filed in Adelaide's Federal Court suggest. South Australian Legal Services Commission lawyer Claire O'Connor claimed in documents that Group 4 Falck, the company that runs Australia's detention centres, and the Department of Immigration had breached their duty of care by failing to provide adequate psychiatric care for three mentally ill Iranian men at the Baxter detention centre. Outside the court, she said there were parallels with the Rau case. "Cornelia was sick and wasn't treated, my clients are sick and they are not being treated," Ms O'Connor said. "She is no different to people in there." In documents supporting her attempt to get urgent psychiatric treatment for the men, Ms O'Connor said the centre's suicide and self-harm unit did not employ a psychiatrist. "It is believed there has been no psychiatric visit . . . since about August 2004 and certainly none since November 2004," she said in an affidavit. Ms O'Connor said the problem of the lack of psychiatric care at Baxter was compounded by the fact that the centre itself was contributing to the poor mental health of detainees. She said psychiatrists visited Baxter infrequently and were forced to deal with a series of seriously ill people in a short time. "All they can do is medicate them, they just keep renewing the prescriptions," she said.

February 7, 2005 The Age
Only a full judicial and public inquiry would be sufficient to establish the facts about the detention of a mentally ill Australian woman, her sister said today. Cornelia Rau, a 39-year-old former flight attendant who was released from Baxter immigration detention centre last week after spending 10 months locked up, has caused a national debate over services for the mentally ill. Her sister, Christine Rau, said an inquiry independent of the government and open to public scrutiny was necessary to get to the bottom of the case. Adelaide public defender John Harley, who represents mentally ill people, said he had grave concerns for the fate of other people suffering mental health problems imprisoned by the immigration system. "This is not isolated at all," Mr Harley told ABC radio. "I was informed that (Ms Rau) was in solitary confinement and that involves her being under lights 24 hours a day (with) closed circuit television. "She was allowed out of her room six hours a day, but in some occasions it required four men in riot gear to remove her back into her cell," he said.

February 7, 2005 Herald Sun
THE Federal Government will hold an inquiry into the detention of a mentally ill Australian women at the Baxter centre for illegal immigrants. Prime Minister John Howard yesterday said it was regrettable Cornelia Rau was held in custody for three months in Baxter and before that six months in a Brisbane jail. "Obviously it's . . . a very regrettable incident," Mr Howard said. Ms Rau, a 39-year-old former Qantas flight attendant, was released from Baxter in South Australia on Friday. Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison said the Government should not be trusted to investigate its own actions. "It is bad enough that Ms Rau was being held in an immigration detention centre," Senator Allison said. "But why did she spend six months in a women's prison before that?
Senator Allison said state and federal governments had allowed prisons and detention centres to become "the new psychiatric asylums".

February 5, 2005 The Age
A family snapshot of Cornelia Rau, detained as a suspected illegal immigrant. A mentally ill Australian woman found by Aborigines in a remote Cape York township has been mistakenly held in immigration detention for nearly a year while her distressed family thought she was dead. Cornelia Rau, 39, who suffers from schizophrenia, was last seen in March after she escaped from the psychiatric unit of Sydney's Manly Hospital. The Immigration Department confirmed last night that Ms Rau, who was speaking German and some English, had been held in a Queensland women's prison until September when she was transferred to Baxter detention centre. Ms Rau's sister, Chris Rau, a Sydney journalist, read an article from The Age last Monday about a mystery German-speaking woman held at Baxter, known only as "Anna". Baxter authorities faxed her a photograph, which showed her missing sister. "We're just relieved that she is alive," Chris Rau said. They were also bewildered why the department could not establish her identity when police had her details. Ms Rau was first taken into detention in April. She had been staying near an Aboriginal camp at Coen, in far north Queensland. The Aborigines became concerned that she was sick and brought her into Cairns police. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the woman was handed over to the Department of Immigration by police in April 2004. She was held in a Queensland women's prison until September when she was transferred to Baxter.
Greens senator Kerry Nettle last night called for an inquiry into "this staggering case of mismanagement and abuse". During her three months in Baxter, Ms Rau was kept in isolation for a week, then in a high- security unit locked in a room on her own for 18 hours a day, refugee advocate Pamela Curr said. She said her sister had "been through hell". "We don't know what the implications are going to be for her future condition or her treatment."

December 13, 2004 The Age
The immigration department today accused refugee advocates of inciting incidents within the Baxter detention centre by exaggerating reports of a detainee hunger strike. Refugee support group Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) today said 27 Iranians within the South Australian centre were participating in the hunger strike, now into its second week. Among those were five men who had sewn their lips together and three who were staging a protest on the centre's gymnasium roof, RAR spokeswoman Kathy Verran said. She said those on the roof had been denied water since last night, after guards stopped other detainees bringing water to the men. Ms Verran said detainees had also reported the guards were bouncing balls against the ceiling of the gym, underneath the detainees, to prevent them from sleeping.

December 3, 2004 The Age
Four Sri Lankan men have been hospitalised after refusing food for up to 10 days in a hunger strike at South Australia's Baxter detention centre. Two of the men had also been admitted overnight earlier this week, she said.

December 1, 2004 The Age
Eleven Sri Lankan men at the Baxter detention centre have stepped up their hunger strike and are now refusing medication, a refugee advocate said today. The detainees were determined to continue their hunger strike until death, in a last bid to be granted refugee status in Australia, according to Rural Australians for Refugees spokeswoman Mira Wroblewski. Ms Wroblewski said other hunger strikers were angry that the pair, after their release, had been forced to walk from the detention centre medical facility to their compounds in pouring rain. "It (forcing them to walk in the rain) has just strengthened their resolve.

September 20, 2004 The Age
A hunger strike, a High Court action and a direct appeal to Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone are among last-ditch efforts to stop the forced return of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The man on hunger strike, who is 34 and was detained after his visa expired, was put into Baxter's management unit on Thursday and forcibly fed. He resumed his hunger strike on Saturday, Ms Wroblewski said. Eleven other Sri Lankans held at Baxter yesterday entered the fifth day of a peaceful sit-in at the compound.

August 20, 2004
A food sample from South Australia's Baxter detention centre will be presented to health authorities for inspection after detainees complained they had been served a meal crawling with maggots. The Immigration Department last week said one maggot had been found in food and an investigation was under way. South Australian Greens MP Kris Hanna said he would today present a sample of meat and rice to the state Environmental Health Department for examination. Mr Hanna said the food sample was smuggled out of Baxter following frustration among detainees about the situation. "According to reports in the centre, the food was crawling with live maggots," Mr Hanna said. Detainees at the Baxter centre last week upturned rubbish bins in protest after complaining about maggots in their food. (The Age)

July 29, 2004
Two murals border a grassy patch in the fenced-in adult education compound of the Baxter immigration detention centre.  Goldfish feature in one. The other, still being painted by detainees yesterday, is an abstract composition of nine blue eyes and brown faces.  For the first time since the fires in 2002, journalists were allowed in the centre. An Iranian detainee, who said he had been in detention for about four years, waited until the Immigration Department official was out of earshot before he started whispering to the Herald. The mural of the eyes represented confusion, he explained.  "People don't know what they're doing, they've lost their personality, they don't know what happens to them," he said.  And the fish?  "If you scream underwater, nobody hears your voice, if you're crying, nobody hears."  One area the media had never seen before was the grim "Management Unit", where detainees with behavioural issues are put into solitary confinement - sometimes for more than a month at a time.  The Red compound, burnt during the fires in 2002, is for "problem" detainees who have come out of the "Management Unit" and are being "re-integrated" into the general detention centre population.  There were no detainees in the Red compound yesterday either - just empty non-carpeted rooms with metal furniture bolted to the floor and a peephole for guards to look through when doing their head counts each night.  (Sidney Morning Herald)

March 18, 2004
Inmates of Baxter immigration detention centre took control of a compound yesterday morning and barricaded themselves in.  About 50 guards in riot gear surrounded the compound and forced open the door, Greens refugee spokeswoman Pamela Cur said yesterday.  Furniture was broken in the confrontation, which followed arguments overnight after guards tried to forcibly remove a detainee from his room, she said.  Ms Cur said the inmate reportedly had been suicidal and staff had tried to force him into solitary isolation cells.  The man, who has a medical condition, has a fear of solitary confinement and at one stage he climbed on to the compound roof, refugee advocates said.  A spokesman for the Immigration Department confirmed that there had been a disturbance at Baxter. A detainee had scaled a shade structure, but he later came down.  The disturbance had been limited to one compound, the spokesman said. Centre staff were monitoring the compound where the disturbance had taken place. Late yesterday afternoon it appeared calm. (The Age)

November 20, 2003
A High Court judge has cleared the way for a challenge to Australia's detention laws that could ultimately result in all children being released from immigration detention centres.  High Court Justice Kenneth Hayne ruled in Melbourne yesterday that the challenge, launched by refugee advocate Eric Vadarlis, could proceed to a February hearing before the court's full bench. The legal action aims to free four child detainees from South Australia's Baxter Detention Centre on the grounds that the detention of children for administrative purposes is unconstitutional.  (The Age)

July 30, 2003
An Iranian man at the Baxter detention centre has refused to eat for the  past 18 days after his seven-year-old daughter was sent back to Iran,  the Australian Democrats said today.  Kate Reynolds, Democrats' social justice spokeswoman in South Australia's upper house, called for authorities to provide medical care and grief counseling to Amin Mastipour (Amin Mastipour), who was on a hunger strike in a Baxter isolation unit.  "I cannot believe that this man's child - who has been with him for the past five years - has been torn away from him like this," Ms Reynolds said.  (Sidney Morning News)

July 27, 2003
Alamdar Bakhtiyari, who has spent three of his mere 15 years living in detention, says he never wants to come out. He says he feels safer behind Baxter detention centre's razor wire.  As he sits with The Age, his angry father at his side, Alamdar is edgy, fearful. His face switches like a flashing light, now scowling, now smiling.  When he does speak, his words tumble out filled with accusations and disbelief. "It is not fair you come and talk to us, and then you go home to your family and a nice house and we stay here. We are not free to leave. You have lovely homes and families, but all we have is nothing, not even our freedom.  "I am not allowed to enjoy freedom like other boys. It makes me crazy, I hate it here. I hate Australia. I am not a criminal, I have done nothing wrong."  Then the switch is thrown again. "You know what ACM stands for?" he says flashing a smile. "Always Changing their Minds." Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) is the private company that runs Baxter and decides what Alamdar can and cannot do.  After almost three years of detention, Alamdar, with his younger brother Montazar (Monty), bears all the signs of someone completely institutionalised. His fear of the outside world outweighs his fear of incarceration. He says his life has been torn apart by the competing forces in Australia's immigration debate: the refugee activists, the lawyers, the media and Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.  Alamdar carries the scars of detention, some of which are still visible. At the height of the Woomera turmoil, when riots and hunger strikes were commonplace and teenage detainees were threatening to kill themselves and drinking shampoo, Alamdar stitched his lips together. Out of frustration he slashed himself repeatedly with razor blades, and in a moment of deep despair he gouged the word "freedom" into his forearm.  (The Age)

April 21, 2003
South Australian police have apologized to protestors after a heavily tactical response squad drove into their camp near the Baxter detention centre searching for a rifle that had allegedly been aimed at a police helicopter.  The search of the site turned up a camera tripod.  A total of 33 people were arrested during the three-day Easter protest against mandatory detention of asylum seekers.  More than 350 police were on hand for the protests.  But as protesters left, riot police charged at selected groups to clear them from the area.  (The Age)

April 18, 2003
Police clashed with protesters outside the Baxter detention centre today after demonstrators climbed barricades and tried to march on the centre.  Ignoring police appeals to remain beyond a roadblock erected to seal access to the centre, hundreds of protesters confronted police in a tense stand-off this afternoon.  Some protesters climbed the barricades and attempted to make their way on foot to the centre's main gates, before a second line of police blocked their path and began confiscating camping equipment.  Hundreds of protesters from around Australia have converged on Port Augusta to rally against the government's treatment of asylum seekers.  Some 300 police officers were redeployed to Port Augusta this weekend, after last year's Easter rally at the Woomera detention centre, during which detainees staged several mass escapes with the help of demonstrators.  Refugee Action Collective protest organiser Fleur Taylor, from Melbourne, said centre manager Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), authorized by the Department of Immigration (DIMIA), had increased punishment of Baxter detainees.  (The Age)

March 10, 2003
Two men who escaped from the Baxter immigration detention centre last night spent just hours on the run before being recaptured by South Australian police early today.  Police said the men fled into bushland north of the Port Augusta facility at 11.18pm (CDT).  A search involving local police and Australian Federal Police was organised, including the use of a police aircraft.  (The Age)

January 3, 2003
It was meant to be the new, friendlier face of Australia's asylum seeker policy. Although an electrified fence runs around the outside, and security cameras are everywhere except in private areas, the rooms are modern. There is more grass and play area for children than in other centres. But today part of Baxter lies in ruins, and along with it any hope of an easy resolution to the fate of Australia's asylum seekers.   Just after midnight on Friday last week a fire broke out in an empty room in Red 1, a men's compound at Baxter. Although detainees cannot possess matches or lighters, arsonists may have made a lighter from electric wiring or a toaster. They had mattresses and newspapers - plenty of fuel.   Two nights later, a bigger fire was lit in Red 1. Staff tried to put it out but did not have enough water. Fire crews arrived, people were banging on doors to wake those still asleep. Many detainees were collapsing from smoke inhalation.   At about 3pm that day more fires were lit. Desperate to get out but told not to, detainees broke down the gate and tried to break out of the compound. Guards in riot gear confronted them. When some detainees were asked why they had started the fire they replied: "We were trying to get away. The centre is making us crazy."   By Sunday night the fires were spreading, first to Port Hedland detention centre, later to Woomera, Christmas Island and Villawood. The "ferocity" of the actions took guards by surprise, an ACM employee said.   On December 17, newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne published the same article. Carrying headlines such as "Five Star Asylums" and "It's not all mriots at our Club Fed", it reported that detainees enjoyed luxuries such as gyms, Foxtel, DVDs and yoga classes.   The article, and a similar one in a Port Hedland newspaper, made some people in the Port Hedland detention centre "very angry," says the town's Uniting Church minister, Bev Fabb. She says most of the article's information was wrong for Port Hedland. The article also troubled Harry Minas of the Federal Government's Independent Detention Advisory Group.   Neither Professor Minas nor Ms Fabb suggest a direct link between the article and the arson but many asylum seeker advocates feel the article helped to exacerbate what one advocate describes as a "huge deterioration" in the mood of detainees in the past month.   A shift is under way in the centres. Numbers are dwindling. No boat has reached Australia for 14 months. Baxter, Woomera and Port Hedland are way below capacity.   On New Year's Eve the Immigration Department handed a letter to 488 detainees in Baxter, Port Hedland and Woomera. The letter said most of them had been rejected as refugees and had "no right to remain in this country . . . You can choose to bring your detention to an end at any time by leaving Australia".   According to what an Iranian detainee told asylum seeker advocate Ian Knowles, a group of men, infuriated by the letter, marched to the immigration office and demanded to be deported straight away.   Guards in riot gear pushed them back to a compound. ACM confirmed that tear gas was used.   Mr Minas adds: "People are saying, 'It's their (the detainees') own bloody fault', and in a way it is.   "But people have to ask what makes this group prefer be in a detention centre environment rather than to go go home.   "They are not choosing a soft life in Australia."  (The Age)  

January 3, 2003
Thirteen pairs of scissors, two chisels, home-made weapons, broken glass panels and lighter fluid have been found after searches in Australia's seven immigration detention centres.  But strip searches of the 132 men detained at Baxter and Woomera in South Australia, conducted this week, apparently uncovered little.  An Immigration Department statement refers only to two mobile phones and one screwdriver being found.  The five-day spree of violence in five of the seven immigration detention centres has left a damages bill of $8.4 million.  The bill climbed $400,000 yesterday after the Immigration Department revealed the cost of fires at Christmas Island four days ago.  (The Age)

December 29, 2002
Asylum seekers who caused more than $2 million in damage by using bedding and furniture to fuel six separate fires at the three-month-old Baxter Detention Centre in South Australia face jail terms before being deported.  One of the centre's nine compounds was destroyed after five fires began simultaneously early yesterday, and 13 people, including two guards, were taken to hospital.   Forty-seven detainees were evacuated to another compound within the centre, where another big fire broke out shortly after 3.30pm.  Eighty-one rooms were destroyed, including 17 in the second compound. Two en suite units were destroyed and a mess hall was damaged.  According to the Department of Immigration website, riots in detention centres have caused more than $5 million in damage over the past 18 months. More than three-quarters of this has occurred at Woomera Detention Centre, where six buildings were destroyed in riots in August 2000 and a further three burnt during riots in November last year.  (Sidney Morning Hearld)

December 27, 2002
Inmates at South Australia's Baxter detention centre used mattresses and newspapers to light three fires that gutted a complex of four rooms, Australasian Correctional Management said yesterday.  The fires, which caused an estimated $60,000 damage, have been referred by the Department of Immigration to Australian Federal Police for investigation.  A spokesman for Australasian Correctional Management, which is contracted to run the Baxter immigration detention centre, said the fires had been lit in the single men's complex, which included two bedrooms and two toilet areas.  (The Age)

November 6, 2002
Up to 30 detainees at South Australia's Baxter detention centre were hit by nearly 50 guards in full riot gear last week and then refused medical treatment, according to an asylum seeker.  Afghan Fahim Shah said about eight detainees were hurt last Thursday's attack in the mess where about 30 people were eating dinner.  "They threw my plate and beat me with the stick and pushed me three times with the shield to go outside from the mess," he said.  He said there had been two other incidents of brutality by Australasian Correctional Management guards at the centre since it opened about six weeks ago.  (The Age)

Borallon Correctional Centre
Queensland, Australia
Serco (formerly run by Management and Training Corporation)

August 15, 2011 9 News
Queensland's opposition has asked the auditor-general to review the state government's handling of a jail tender it has described as "dodgy". The government announced last month it would temporarily mothball Borallon prison in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and transfer inmates to a new prison near Gatton due to be opened next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed plans to convert the jail into immigration accommodation, however no final decision has yet been made. Security company Serco, which manages Borallon jail, has been awarded the contract to operate the new jail, Southern Queensland Correctional Centre at Spring Creek. The Liberal National Party (LNP) has labelled this a "dodgy deal". LNP corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the party had referred the matter to the auditor-general. The auditor-general's office has confirmed it received the LNP's request but as of Monday morning, it was yet to view the details. Mr Langbroek argues the government did not conduct a proper tendering process. "The way this secret deal between Serco, who currently run the prison at Borallon, and the state government has been handled raises many questions," he said. "Under the normal tendering for service process, the contract for service delivery at the new Gatton prison should have been advertised and put to the market to ensure the best value for money was achieved. "This matter deserves due consideration and that's why I have written to the auditor-general seeking advice on whether this deal is in fact legal and meets the state government's own rules and guidelines."

October 25, 2006 Townsville Bulletin
A TENDER for the state's two privately-run prisons is not a criticism of the current operators, the Queensland Government said today. Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence said new tenders to run Borallon and Arthur Gorrie correctional centres, valued at a total of $200 million, would ensure taxpayers got value for money. "It is not about the performance of the current operators,'' Ms Spence said. The Arthur Gorrie jail has been under fire in recent years over a number of deaths in custody, security failures and assaults on prisoners by staff. Borallon made headlines four years ago when a report showed it had the highest rate of illicit drug use in the state, with almost one in three prisoners using drugs. Four companies will be invited to tender: GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, GSL Australia Pty Ltd, Management and Training Corporation Pty Ltd and Serco Australia Pty Ltd. GEO currently operates Arthur Gorrie, and Management and Training Corporation operates Borallon. Ms Spence said the contracts would be for five years, with an option for Queensland Corrective Services to extend them for a further five years. The tenders will be evaluated in the first half of next year with new contracts to start on January 1, 2008. An independent probity auditor has been contracted to oversee the entire project.

February 22, 2004
OFFICERS at a privately-run prison in Queensland will walk off the job again over the next two days. Prison officers at the Borallon Correctional Centre, near Ipswich, will lock prisoners in their cells during six-hour stoppages tomorrow and on Tuesday in a dispute over enterprise bargaining negotiations  The prison is operated by the US-based prison company Management and Training Corporation (MTC), under contract to the Queensland Government.  Last week, about 500 low and medium security inmates were locked in their cells for two hours on Monday and Tuesday morning.  The prison officers' union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, said it would increase the length of the stoppages if the dispute dragged on.  About 150 prison officers have been calling for a six per cent annual pay rise over the next two years but MTC offered an increase of just 1.9 per cent a year.  MTC also wants to reduce prison officers' sick leave entitlements to six days a year from eight in the last agreement which expired last month.  LHMWU spokesman Ron Simon said the union would also ban overtime at the prison.  "Each week we've increased the length and intensity, of the walkout," he said. "This time our members are stopping twice for six hours and imposing a two-week overtime ban, commencing Monday morning."  (Townsville Bulletin)

February 9, 2004
INMATES at Borallon Correctional Centre near Ipswich will be placed in lockdown mode tomorrow and Tuesday as prison officers strike in support of increased wages and benefits.  Almost 500 low and medium security inmates at the privatised prison will be locked down and managed under a skeleton staff structure for two hours from 8am (AEST) tomorrow and on Tuesday, while members of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) rally for a pay increase.  The prison has been run by US firm Management and Training Corporation (MTC) since September 2000, under contract to the Queensland government.  About 150 prison officers, whose current enterprise agreement expired last month, are calling for a six per cent annual pay rise over the next two years in addition to paid parental leave and income protection.  (Townsville Bulletin)

August 14, 2001
Drugs and illegal 'home brew' have been discovered during random searches in Queensland's prisons.  Four prisoners have also lost open security classification after testing positive to drugs.  Two prisoners already in custody are facing charges after random searches uncovered drugs at Borallon Correctional Centre and illegal brew at Borallon and Woodford Correctional Centres.  (ABC News)

Broadmeadows Youth Detention Center
Australia
Serco

July 26, 2011 The Age
THREE teenage asylum seekers stitched their lips together at Broadmeadows youth detention centre this weekend, posting the photos on Facebook in a plea for help. Refugee Action Collective volunteer Daniella Olea, who has previously visited the teenagers, said they were aged between 16 and 18 and arrived alone from Kuwait, Iran and Iraq. They have been detained for about a year. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced in October that he intended to release all children from detention centres by June, but Ms Olea said about 50 teenagers under the age of 18 were still at Broadmeadows. Ms Olea, who has not been allowed to visit the boys recently, said they stitched their lips shut on Sunday afternoon. She said the youths were desperate. ''Some of them haven't heard from their case managers for months.'' A wall has been built at the centre, she said, so it was no longer possible to see greenery from its outdoor area. ''Before you could see the trees. Now they have just boarded all that up.'' The Department of Immigration confirmed the self-harm and said operator Serco had provided psychological support.

Casuarina Prison
West Australia
CCA
December 7, 2000
A potentially dangerous man serving a six-year jail sentence for various theft offences escaped from a prisoner-transport van between jail and the West Australian Supreme Court. David Graeme Hintz, 24, escaped from the back of a Corrections Corporation of Australia security van as it traveled down a busy city street in rout to court. The Ministry of Justice said today's escape was the third from CCA custody since July 31, when the private contractors took over the service. (News Limited, Dec. 6, 2000)

Christmas Island Detention Center
Christmas Island
Serco

Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011

Jul 18, 2017 dailymail.co.uk
Australia: Serco guard smoking ice with detainees
A guard at the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre has been sacked after being caught smoking ice with detainees in their cell and smuggling contraband. He was caught after the detainees set up the meeting to prove corruption at private prison operator Serco, which is funded by taxpayers. The guard was part of a network that smuggled mobile phones into the facility via the post, and traded them with asylum seekers for cash and illicit drugs. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said guards involved in illegal behaviour could face criminal charges, A Current Affair reported. An Iranian-born man who was detained at the facility before being granted refugee status said guards and detainees were regularly involved in criminal activity. 'The inmates transferred money to the officers' accounts and then they brought money and drugs inside the camp, there was corruption in there,' he said. The former detainee said the use of illegal drugs crystal meth and marijuana was commonplace at the facility. In an incident believed to have taken place last Boxing Day, the disgraced officer smuggled vodka in for a group of detainees marked for deportation having a New Year's Eve party. The detainee who masterminded the meeting that led to the sacking claimed to have smuggled mobile phones into the facility hidden in gifts sent in the post. He is believed to been transferred to Sydney's Villawood detention centre. Mr Dutton said the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity is now investigating detention centre guards. 'Absolutely this investigation will continue and it will root out anybody who is involved in illegal behaviour,' Mr Dutton said. 'There will be serious consequences, including criminal charges being preferred [and] people being sacked from their current jobs.'


Apr 27, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Australian guards accused of beating New Zealand detainees
Guards in two Australian immigration centres have been accused of beating up New Zealand detainees. One report claims 50 guards on Christmas Island armed with batons and shields took on 10 or so detainees who used wheelie-bin lids as shields to defend themselves. And a 24-year-old New Zealand citizen being held at a centre in Victoria said guards beat him after he tried to arrange meetings with a protest hikoi that was visiting detainees. The accusations come as new figures show New Zealand men now make up the largest single group being held in immigration detention in Australia. Convicted armed robber Wayne Hema is locked up at Maribrynong Detention Centre in Victoria but has been in contact by phone to a detainee in a compound on Christmas Island about a mass clash there early last week. "Fifty guards came in with riot shields and clubs to tackle 10 Kiwis," he said. "The New Zealanders defended themselves, they broke up wheelie-bins, the iron bars and wheels from the wheelie-bins to protect themselves, as well as the lids from the bins as shields to shield themselves from the blows they were receiving." "Fifty guards came in with riot shields" - Wayne Hema on Morning Report. Another Christmas Island detainee sent a message to a relative, who did not want to be identified, with a one-line plea to tell the media and politicians what was happening on the remote Indian Ocean island. He said in that message that 54 emergency response guards ran in and kicked them: "We all have boot marks to the head". RNZ News was unable to get through to anyone on Christmas Island and has been told detainees have been warned not to speak out. Wayne Hema said the clash came after a Middle Eastern refugee refused to return a razor to prison staff and threatened to cut himself with it. The New Zealanders there, he said, backed him up and refused to negotiate with the centre's manager. "It may only be a little thing, but when you are harassed mentally and physically, that little thing is like a big win, to stand back and say, 'No, I am doing this ... and you're not going to take it off me," he said.He said all the men had been flown to a prison in Perth, and it remained unclear what injuries they had. Like Wayne Hema, Maueofa Fakauafusi, 24, is detained at Maribrynong, which like Christmas Island is run for the Australian government by private prison company Serco. He was jailed for assault then had his visa cancelled, and described being woken early a fortnight ago, being held in an interview room for several hours, and then, after repeatedly asking a guard to use a toilet, actually getting up to go. "I went to walk out. He shin kicked me while he was sitting down, I tripped up through the hallway and the security guards basically jumped on me and he's jumped over and elbowed me in the chin," he said. "They had me against the wall and he just started ragging on me, just laying into me and threw me on the ground, stomped on me, and handcuffed me and took me into the segregation where they continued to strip search me and basically punch me up." This comes as the latest figures from Australian authorities show that for the first time New Zealand men now make up the largest single group being held in indefinite immigration detention - 181 total compared with 179 Iranian men. Fifteen New Zealand women are also being held. Many of these people have lived most of their lives in Australian - Maueofa Fakauafusi since he was six - and those held on criminal grounds have all served their prison time, while others are held on character grounds. On Christmas Island the numbers are up 16, to 183 men, since February, and from 150 last December. Australia's Immigration department refuses to tell RNZ News how many of these are New Zealanders. Wayne Hema said he had heard that 30 more detainees were taken to the Christmas Island in the last two days and Maueofa Fakauafusi said five New Zealanders had been taken there from Maribrynong in the month he had been there. Filipa Payne tried to visit Maueofa Fakauafusi as part of a trans-Tasman hikoi she has helped lead for the past month to protest at detainees' treatment. "From what we've been told he was beaten up because he'd tried to make contact with us, for us to come and see him and other people there, so that he could share with us his story and share what was happening in the detention centres." Ms Payne said detainees were being prevented from getting medical treatment and from ready access to lawyers, whose efforts had not changed anything for them anyway, though some had spent tens of thousands of dollars on them. Maueofa Fakauafusi said last week guards bashed a detainee who asked for Panadol. He and that detainee talked about complaining about their treatment but decided it was no use, that the authorities would not listen. Wayne Hema described a pressure cooker situation in the detention centres. He said a few days ago in early morning room raids, the guards removed all the towels and curtains for seemingly no reason. In one room the detainee was sleeping naked. "The guards all ran into the room - 'Get up, get up!' He informed them that he was naked. They had a female with a camera recording what was happening in the room. "When he again asked them to leave they said, 'No, get up out of bed now'. Had he not got up out of bed he would have been beaten." RNZ News asked Australia's Immigration and Border Protection Department about these claims and is yet to hear back. Just over three weeks ago New Zealander Rob Peihopa died in a Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Authorities said it was a heart attack but detainees and his family suspect he was beaten up by other detainees. A coronial inquiry continues into that matter.


Jul 13, 2014 The Sidney Morning Herald

A woman who is in hospital on Christmas Island after attempting suicide was returned to the offshore detention centre against the advice of mental-health professionals after being transferred for treatment in Australia. It's widespread and it's getting worse. Fairfax Media has been told the women was transferred to Perth earlier this year but discharged from hospital and returned to detention before being sent back to Christmas Island against the advice. It is believed the woman, who is not a mother, tried to take her own life this week and remains in Christmas Island hospital. Sources have told Fairfax Media there were several asylum seekers who continue to be held on Christmas Island despite advice that they be transferred to Australia for treatment for mental illnesses. ''This is not manipulation [of the system],'' a source said. ''It's widespread and it's getting worse.'' It comes as Christmas Island shire president Gordon Thompson said the number of women on suicide watch had increased from 11 on Wednesday, to 14 on Thursday. ''They are [on] constant watch,'' he said. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison this week denied Fairfax Media reports that up to nine women had attempted suicide, saying multiple suicide attempts by women on Christmas Island were ''not correct''. Mr Morrison has refused to provide information on self harm in detention, citing ''government commentary on such issues takes into account privacy and the impact public commentary may have in encouraging such behaviour''. On Wednesday, Fairfax Media obtained advice from the Department of Immigration showing that, following a meeting on Christmas Island this week, there were ''seven individuals who made threats of self harm, four have actually self-harmed and one woman attempted suicide''. But an International Health and Medical Service employee said the categories of ''self harm and ''attempted suicide'' were often hard to differentiate. ''A self harm could be a suicide attempt,'' the worker said. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists said it was ''concerned but not surprised'' to hear of reports that women on Christmas Island were harming themselves. ''The college is extremely concerned that people are finding themselves in such a desperate situation that they are considering such measures as attempting suicide,'' said the president, Dr Murray Patton. The government's leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, described the incidents on Monday night as ''minor self harm''. But Greens Senator and immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said that response was ''callous and insincere''. ''Suicide attempts are not 'minor incidents' as so ignorantly described by the Abbott government,'' she said. ''The Department of Immigration's own contract with Serco defines attempted serious self harm as a critical incident.''


The Sidney Morning Herald,  November 16, 2013

Staff at Australia's immigration detention centres have undergone retraining after a worker was sacked for having a sexual relationship with a detainee. Managers of the Christmas Island centre, British-owned company Serco, have confirmed that a male employee was dismissed in October following an investigation. ''We take a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate relationships and any sexual contact is completely unacceptable,'' Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said in a statement. The matter has been reported to police and the Immigration Department. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told ABC TV the conduct was ''appalling and completely unacceptable'' and that the department would seek further information from Serco. The company has also revealed that three other Christmas Island staff, members of an emergency response team, have been reassigned after breaking protocol by drinking alcohol. ''During the periods when they are not at work but on-call, they must remain ready for duty at all times,'' Mr Shaw said of the stringent physical requirements demanded of team members. ''This means that they are not permitted to consume any alcohol.'' News of dissent among staff at the Christmas Island facility comes as the Australian government faces criticism for operations in its detention centre network, including the separation of an asylum-seeker woman and her newborn baby. Refugee advocate Pamela Curr was quick to speak out against the latest misconduct. ''A sexual relationship between a guard and a detainee is like a relationship between a student and a teacher, between a doctor and a patient. The power relationship is such an imbalance it can never be acceptable, it is exploitative,'' she told the ABC. Serco said it had addressed the problems. ''After our investigation concluded in this matter, we held formal refresher training sessions for our staff across the immigration detention network, reinforcing the importance of professional boundaries and respect for the people in our care,'' Mr Shaw said.

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

November 30, 2011 ABC
The head of the company which runs Australia's detention centres has admitted that administration staff were told to act as security during the Christmas Island riots. Serco's chief executive officer David Campbell has been answering questions before a parliamentary committee in Perth. It is looking into Serco being awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to provide services at the city's new Fiona Stanley Hospital. Mr Campbell told the committee that administration staff formed a perimeter during the Christmas Island riots. He said they were told to act as observers. Outside the hearing, the union United Voice said Serco's administrative staff were dressed in the blue polo t-shirts normally worn by security guards and were put on the front lines. The union's Dave Kelly says staff were poorly treated. "That they dressed administrative staff up as security guards and put them on the front lines, I find that absolutely amazing," he said.

November 30, 2011 The Age
THE Immigration Department was warned severe overcrowding at the detention centre on Christmas Island would cause a serious incident five months before riots broke out there. That is the finding of an independent inquiry into the Christmas Island and Villawood riots, by former public servants Allan Hawke and Helen Williams. Released yesterday, the report said the failure of the department to brief Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on the warning until March 2011 was ''highly regrettable''. The report has described conditions on Christmas Island before the riots as ''severely compromised'' - with failing sewerage systems, a ''precarious'' supply of water and access to toilets and education under stress. Detainee numbers had leapt to 2530 on the island. Knowledge Consulting warned in October 2010 that safety was compromised, accommodation was unsuitable and detainees had no meaningful activities. A freeze on processing Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum claims a year earlier caused a backlog and ''significant impact on the detention network''. The inquiry found that adding to this explosive mix was an influx of middle-class Iranian asylum seekers ''who had higher expectations of service and lower tolerance for any perceived slowness in processing or inconsistency in decision-making or failure to achieve a positive result''. Riots on Christmas Island, sparked on March 11, caused $2.5 million in damages, while riots at Villawood in Sydney a month later cost $6 million. Serco, the private company that runs the detention network, was warned of the planned mass escape and riot on Christmas Island four days earlier, but a teleconference with the Immigration Department in Canberra dismissed an informant's warning. The report blamed both riots in part on the detention network's inability to manage a core group of angry asylum seekers who had been rejected. It said 80 of the 100 detainees identified as taking part in the Christmas Island riot had received initial rejections and were waiting for a review. Thirteen of the 19 charged had been rejected as refugees at the first interview. Of the nine detainees charged over the Villawood riot, all had received a negative primary decision. The report called for the contract with Serco to be revised to improve security and co-ordination with police.

September 16, 2011 The Australian
FIREFIGHTERS have repeatedly raised concerns with the government on their capacity to respond to emergencies at Christmas Island. The Australian understands concerns were expressed with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship about the ability of volunteer firefighters to enter violent and uncontrolled situations inside the centre. The concerns are understood to have been raised at least once before violent riots in March. Yesterday, a departmental spokesman rejected the suggestion concerns had been ignored. He said detention centre operator Serco was required to have appropriate contingency arrangements to deal with a range of scenarios, including fires. "Serco works with local emergency services in developing these arrangements, which are continually reviewed to address any concerns which may be raised," the spokesman said. The fire brigade, along with the island's ambulance service, relies solely on volunteers and was on standby over many nights during the riots, in which detainees set parts of compounds on fire. Problems with the capacity of Christmas Island's emergency services to cope with increasing demand - due to the detention centre and associated influx of workers - are expected to be highlighted in an upcoming socio-economic report on the impact of detention on the island. The report's draft findings were detailed to community members at a meeting last week, where it was revealed there were serious concerns about the capacity of the fire and ambulance services. Locals interviewed for the report also spoke of high levels of exhaustion among volunteers. The co-ordinator of the island's ambulance service, volunteer Barbara Copeland, said call-outs had increased from five for the whole of 2007 to 50 so far this year. She said 95 per cent of call-outs this year were related to the island's detention compounds and included responding to self-harm incidents and evacuations to the hospital or Perth. Ms Copeland said the island's transient nature made it difficult to maintain adequate numbers of volunteer workers. The SIEV-221 boat wreck last December, in which 50 asylum-seekers died, had led some volunteers to walk away because of burn-out.

September 7, 2011 ABC
A parliamentary committee has heard many of the Christmas Island detention centre staff have not had the necessary training to deal with detainees' high rates of self harm and attempted suicide. The committee, which is assessing the impact of mandatory detention, spent two days inspecting the facilities and talking to workers there. The committee's deputy chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says because of the island's remoteness and the stressful nature of the work, it is difficult to recruit staff with the mental health skills needed. "Many of the workers in the centres are getting on the job training yet they are dealing with very vulnerable people," she said. "We had one man attempt to hang himself while we were visiting the facility and of course that happens to be a daily occurrence." The committee will tour the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's far north near Derby, today. The joint select committee is visiting detention centres across Australia, assessing a range of issues relating to the cost, impact and effectiveness of mandatory detention. The group will also look at the role of government agencies and private contractors within the detention network, before making their recommendations to parliament. They are expected to hold talks with local hospital staff and workers from Serco which operates the Curtin facility.

September 6, 2011 The Australian
THE refugee lawyer who helped extract a multi-million-dollar payout for Cornelia Rau from the Howard government is preparing multiple civil lawsuits on behalf of asylum-seekers who claim they were assaulted and drugged on Christmas Island during mass escapes and rioting in March. George Newhouse will also ask West Australian police to investigate alleged assaults, sedations and wrongful detention of boatpeople as far back as July 2009 when Labor awarded a five-year contract to security firm Serco. Mr Newhouse told The Australian he was acting for detainees who had been isolated at Christmas Island's high-security "behaviour management unit" called Red Block, had their possessions taken from them and who believed sedatives had been put in their food without their knowledge. "I have been approached by a number of former detainees from Christmas Island who say that they were sedated without their consent and we are putting together a brief for the West Australian police," he said. Mr Newhouse intends to advertise in the Arabic and Farsi press for other detainees to come forward. The advertisement, entitled "A Message to All Former Immigration Detainees", states in part: "If you were assaulted, had your possessions taken from you, sedated without your consent and/or moved into restrictive custody, you may be entitled to pursue your legal rights and entitlements." The push comes six years after Ms Rau, an Australian resident, won a payout reported to be $2.6 million over her wrongful detention at Baxter detention centre. The treatment of Ms Rau, a psychiatric patient, sparked a government inquiry into the possible wrongful detention of more than 200 people. Mr Newhouse worked on that case and said yesterday he still had serious concerns about the use of force on immigration detainees, who were "obviously seriously mentally unwell". He said he regarded any sedation of anyone without their knowledge or consent as an assault. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship was not aware of any instance of detainees being sedated without their knowledge or consent. "The department requires medical intervention to occur with the person's consent within immigration detention facilities at all times. This includes sedation," a spokesman said. The Australian has been told at least two detainees allege they were assaulted and sedated on Christmas Island between March 13 and March 17 after being deemed ringleaders.

August 17, 2011 The Age
THE full extent of despair and unrest in Australia's immigration detention centres has been exposed, with documents showing 1507 detainees were hospitalised in the first six months of this year, including 72 psychiatric hospital admissions, and 213 treated for self-inflicted injuries. The documents, released to a parliamentary committee by the Department of Immigration, also show more than 700 detainees were treated for ''voluntary starvation''. And it emerged that police had been notified 264 times of possible criminal behaviour in detention centres. The figures were released as Australia's top immigration bureaucrat last night urged MPs to rethink mandatory detention of asylum seekers and asked whether the hardline policy actually deterred boat arrivals. In an extraordinary opening address to the inquiry last night, Andrew Metcalfe, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, urged a more flexible approach. The inquiry was instigated by the opposition and Greens, and has begun to lift the veil on the secretive private contractor, Serco, that runs Australia's detention centres. Hundreds of pages of data supplied to the inquiry by the department include the time and nature of every recorded incident inside the nation's 19 detention centres. However, Serco is refusing to state how many staff it employs at each centre, claiming this is sensitive. The department told last night's hearing that Serco was not required under its contract to meet any staff-to-detainee ratios. Mr Metcalfe said Serco was refusing to disclose its staffing ratios because it was concerned detainees would find out. Last night's hearing was also told that Serco had been fined every month in 2010-11 for failing to meet contract goals. Serco has reported 871 instances of inappropriate behaviour towards its staff, and 700 instances of inappropriate behaviour between detainees. There have been five substantiated complaints against staff - but no resulting dismissals. In June alone, there were 135 critical incidents across the network, covering multiple serious injuries, assaults, two escapes and self-harm. Christmas Island is particularly plagued by suicide attempts. There were 620 self-harm incidents there in the year to June, including 193 actual acts, 31 serious attempts and 476 threatened acts. The island's four detention centres were over capacity on 27 occasions. Hunger strikes were reported at most centres, and at least 17 cases of children starving themselves were noted in the past year. The surge in incidents began in mid-2010, coinciding with a rise in boat arrivals. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the data revealed the detention system had collapsed, with the government sitting ''in policy denial'' while centres filled. Greens senator Sarah Hanson Young said she wanted more details, including the daily cost of operating the network. Mr Metcalfe said rising unrest, self-harm and suicide were unfortunate and sad, but ''defy simple solutions''.

July 28, 2011 Big Pond News
An inquiry into the mental health of those in Aust's immigration detention centres has begun. The commonwealth ombudsman has launched an inquiry into suicide and self-harm in Australia's immigration detention centres. Allan Asher witnessed the deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers when he visited Christmas Island in June. In the week the ombudsman visited the detention centre there were more than 30 incidents of self-harm by detainees there. "This reflects an upsurge in the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide reported to IHMS (International Health and Medical Services) across all immigration detention facilities," Mr Asher said on Thursday. "My investigation will assess the extent of this tragic problem." It would examine the root causes, and consider practical steps that the department and its service providers Serco and IHMS should take to identify and manage those at risk of suicide and self-harm. Mr Asher wants the investigation to give evidence-based, expert-endorsed advice on guidelines and protocols for reducing the number of suicide and self-harm incidents. The ombudsman hopes to release the results of his inquiry by the end of 2011.

July 22, 2011 The West Australian
EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE FROM THE ONLY NEWS TEAM ON THE GROUND: Asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island began rioting for the third night last night, only hours after Australian Federal Police reinforcements arrived, and amid increasing speculation the Federal Government has finalised an asylum swap deal with Malaysia. Fires were burning within the North West Point centre, including one on the roof of a building. Detainees could be clearly heard yelling in unison, but their words were indecipherable and many men could be seen pacing around the centre. A detainee from inside the centre told The West Australian that the men at the heart of the protest had raided the Green Two compound and put bags and plastic chairs on the roof and set fire to them. He said small fires had been lit inside parts of the centre. It is understood that Serco officers who worked yesterday's day shift were held back last night to help quell the protests. The Government is expected to announce a deal with Malaysia as early as Monday. Under a deal announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in May, Malaysia will take up to 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat, in return for Australia accepting 4000 processed refugees. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said today the Malaysia agreement was a bad deal. "I don't think it's going to stop the boats," Mr Abbott told the Nine Network. "It's now two-and-a-half months since the so-called Malaysia deal was announced and I think in that time we have had 10 boats and more than 500 people arrive." Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said yesterday the violence at the island's detention centre was inappropriate after 20 to 40 detainees caused major damage. He said mattresses and a temporary building were torched before Federal police moved in to quell the riots using tear gas and bean bag bullets. "This is way out of line," Mr Bowen said. He said rioters achieved nothing except risking jail. An Iraqi detainee in his late 40s described by phone yesterday his fear during the riots as asylum seekers vented anger at delays in getting visas. He said he had been in detention on the island more than a year and though not in the riots, he understood why some chose violent protests. A department spokeswoman said applications were assessed case by case and some took longer because they were more complex.

July 22, 2011 Australian
ASYLUM seekers at Christmas Island's detention centre lit fires and destroyed property for the third evening in a row last night. Tensions boiled over about 8.30pm local time, with estimates around 100 detainees were involved in the destruction. A mattress was reportedly set alight on the roof of one of the compounds and bins were also set on fire. The island's local fire brigade was called along with Australian Federal Police officers. The AFP fired tear gas and bean bag bullets inside the detention centre during protests on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Last night a detainee from inside the centre told The Australian Online, "The situation here is very bad.'' "There's no security, it's not safe. Many people make trouble, make doors smash,'' the man who did not want to be named said. "At night the policemen have tear gas.'' The stateless asylum seeker said around 600 men had had their claims for asylum rejected and this had created frustration. "They have been here a long time and got rejected without reason ... They can't stay in detention like animals waiting, waiting with no justice.'' He said he wanted Australians to examine the reasons why the detainees were rioting and not simply ask who had participated. A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed last night that "a few small fires'' had been lit. "The department can confirm that there is an incident underway,'' he said. "Our focus currently and that of the detention centre services provider is on doing what we can to bring the situation under control with the assistance of the AFP and local fire service,'' he said. The recent protests have seen detention centre "guards'' with just weeks of training being called upon to handcuff Christmas Island's most volatile detainees and fit them with soft helmets before locking them in isolation cells known as Red Block.

July 13, 2011 The Australian
THE company running Australia's immigration detention centres is incurring unsustainable fines from the Department of Immigration for breaches of its $712 million contract, according to a leaked email from Serco's senior operations manager at the Christmas Island detention centre. An escape on July 1 -- about three months after Australian Federal Police were sent to bolster the security at the centre and insist that electric perimeter fences be switched on -- is the latest in a string of breaches that will cost Serco dearly. The company last week appointed a full-time security manager to prevent further escapes. Guards are now stationed on the perimeter of the centre under beach umbrellas on 12-hour shifts, complaining it is too hot and that shade falls on the other side of the fence for several hours each day. Serco's senior operations manager for the detention centre, Steve Southgate, addressed colleagues about continued breaches in an email last Monday. "We can no longer remain where we are," he said. "We are getting fined for things that should have been completed. We are getting fined for not paying attention to the detail. We are getting fined for not doing what we have said we will do. We need to change our culture to a proactive culture and get ourselves out of this reactive blame culture." Mr Southgate arrived on the island after mass breakouts, unrest and rioting in March that led to the AFP taking over the centre temporarily. Those incidents are likely to have resulted in substantial fines -- called abatements -- for Serco, though the firm's contract stipulates that fines are capped at 5 per cent of whatever the company gets paid that month for running the centre where the breaches occurred. The 5 per cent cap does not apply if the breaches are deemed "significant or continuous".

June 24, 2011 The West Australian
Security guards patrolling the Christmas Island detention centre are routinely given a knife specifically designed to cut down detainees who have tried to hang themselves. In a rare insight into the conditions security officers face on a daily basis, a former security guard at the centre told The West Australian his colleagues were turning to alcohol to block out the emotional turmoil of caring for detainees on the island. The guard said during induction he was introduced to the "Hoffman" knife and told: "Before a month is out, at least four of you guards are going to have to use this knife to cut someone down." "That just freaked me out. I went from being a run of the mill security guard to doing this," he said. He said that was one of the many reasons he had quit his job with MSS Security, despite being paid $120,000 a year. He said his departure from the island was also fuelled by "disgusting" accommodation, long shifts, a lack of training and racism some guards displayed towards detainees. Guards were drinking a lot of cheap alcohol to deal with the stress, with many calling in sick when "they hit the wall," he said. Christmas Island Workers Union secretary Kaye Bernard confirmed each guard was required to clip a Hoffman knife to their belt but said there were often not enough to go around. She said one guard had broken down in tears when he told her about having to cut down a detainee who tried to hang himself. A Serco spokesman said all staff in key accommodation areas at detention centres across the country would have access to a rescue knife, basic first aid equipment and a radio. The guard was also upset his complaints to Serco, DIAC and MSS, about a another guard being racist towards refugees, had not been acted upon. But the Serco spokesman said an investigation found nothing to substantiate claims of racism.

June 10, 2011 The Age
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says calm has been restored at the Christmas Island Detention Centre and only two asylum seekers are persisting with a rooftop protest following an evening of riots on the island. Australian Federal Police officers used bean-bag bullets and capsicum spray were called in to quell a riot among 100 detainees last night. The federal police have confirmed the force was deployed at the North West Point detention centre after detainees began throwing projectiles at police and security guards. A federal police spokeswoman said the detainees had armed themselves with metal poles fashioned from sporting equipment and concrete. "During negotiations, some of the protesters began throwing projectiles at police and security guards. The AFP deployed less than lethal munitions, including chemical munitions, a bean-bag round and distraction devices, to restore order," the spokeswoman said. Police were called to the detention centre by the Immigration Department and Serco at 11pm yesterday. An Immigration Department spokeswoman said the disturbance involved two compounds of the facility, and did not involve all detainees at the centre.

June 3, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
A SAFETY order was issued to the federal government less than three weeks before riots broke out at the Villawood detention centre, warning that sections of the facility posed a serious safety and security risk. The Improvement Notice issued by Comcare, and tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, also warned the detention centre at the time could not cope with transfers of potentially violent asylum seekers from Christmas Island. It said Villawood had a "lower level" of health and safety and security. It also discovered broken and missing security cameras and found Serco staff did not have proper training to deal with asylum seekers. "There are likely to be significant risk to health and safety associated with the relocation of the Christmas Island detainees to the Villawood IDF," the April 1 report warned. The release of the report came as parliament yesterday voted to begin a joint inquiry into mandatory detention and the Villawood and Christmas Island riots. The Comcare document raised concerns specifically about the transfer of 10 asylum seekers involved in Christmas Island riots to Villawood. But the government claimed that none of the detainees involved in the Christmas Island riots was involved in the riot at Villawood. Those transferred to Villawood were under lock and key at the western Sydney facility's high security Blaxland compound when the riot broke out in a neighbouring compound. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman last night confirmed the Minister was aware of the issues raised by Comcare at the time. "The government only approved the transfer of the clients from Christmas Island after evidence was provided to Comcare that appropriate risk management measures were in place," he said. "These were in place by the allotted deadline, before the transfer occurred and well before the incidents at Villawood." Comcare had ordered the department to take action within three days to begin training staff and to repair the security and the safety breaches. Comcare deputy CEO Steve Kibble this week said that a follow-up investigation on May 24 found it was "generally" satisfied with the Immigration Department's response to fixing the problems. But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said that the report should have been a "flashing light" for the government. "(The government) were warned not to proceed but they went ahead anyway," Mr Morrison said. "What disturbs me about this is that a department was forced to cut corners as pressure continued to mount from the government's failed border protection policies. It also shows the significant pressure the network was already under prior to the riots."

June 2, 2011 ABC News
In a series of explosive allegations, two former employees of the private security firm which has a $756 million contract with the Federal Government claim fines for contract breaches at detention centres are being pushed to the side "for political reasons". The employees have also detailed lax security practices at the Christmas Island detention centre. The Government fines the security firm, Serco, for any breach of its contract, which can include detainee escapes, riots, or untimely transport escorts. But despite an extensive audit system, the Christmas Island insiders claim the financial penalties, or abatements, are not always recouped by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). "The monthly abatements ran into the many hundreds of thousands of dollars [on Christmas Island] but when it would reach up into the cluster management or regional manager level, they would sort it out with DIAC and nothing would ever come to pass,'' a former Serco manager told ABC's Online Investigative Unit. "The view among senior management on the ground, who were worried about it, was that they were sweeping it under the table, probably for political reasons, as they probably didn't want it getting around how bad the situation was there. "When it got really bad, the amount mentioned that Serco were going to be abated [on Christmas Island] was $1.5 million, and always at the end of the month after they had the final abatement meeting, but it would just be pushed off to the side. "I'm sure there's a lot at stake to make it look like Serco is coping or just coping but it is just wrong for Australian taxpayers that these people are gilding the lily." In response to the allegations, a DIAC spokesperson said the abatements could not fall through the cracks. "The Department of Immigration and Citizenship follows up all breaches at all immigration detention facilities and these are taken very seriously." DIAC serves abatements against Serco once a month for unfulfilled contractual obligations yet these are "commercial in confidence" and not publicly disclosed. Serco did not return calls to the ABC prior to publication. Waste of money -- One former Serco employee alleges a range of contractual obligations were not being met on Christmas Island but that DIAC was unaware. "The wastage of money and lack of accountability was concerning. [Serco] staff could put down extra hours and they wouldn't even know where staff were - people claiming wages and they weren't even on the island," the former employee said. The allegations coincide with calls by the Opposition for a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's immigration detention system. The call is backed by the Greens and by independent MP Andrew Wilkie. The Greens also want a broader inquiry into mandatory detention and requested that DIAC table Serco abatements in last week's Senate estimates hearing. "You wouldn't have to be too clever to find a whole host of financial and human resource mismanagement, it would be plain to see," the former Serco manager said. "They would just have to ask for the records of the contract management meetings. They are all minuted and recorded, pages and pages of evidence." It is understood that acts of non-compliance such as the escapes, riots and fires at Christmas Island in mid-March incur some of the highest penalties. "There were the times when there were the big escapes and the damages occurring," the whistleblower continued. "Certainly the figures raised at meetings that I attended, there was the potential to be abated well over $1 million. That's for one month." The other insider added: "You could be greeted by a security officer sitting and having a cigarette and that's when you walked in the gate. And I'd say, 'Well, aren't you going to search my bag?' It was just not up to scratch. "You were not supposed to take cameras into the property. I had a camera in my bag since day one. People are supposed to X-ray your bag coming and going. No. Not always. "There were a whole heap of people wandering outside the camps almost on a daily basis, at will. What they were saying is that these people had escaped because the fences weren't secure. "But what was occurring and it was common knowledge among the people there - is that there were people [detainees] who were just wandering in and out of the camps." In last week's Senate estimate hearings, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young drew attention to the lack of transparency of the contract, breaches and abatements. DIAC official Fiona Lynch-Magor responded: "The Serco contract provides significant capability for the Department to ensure that the contract is appropriately administered." "We certainly have abated Serco [in] the period of this contract on many occasions for their failure to deliver the contract but it is not recorded in a recordable manner, as in X number of breaches this financial year, because of the way the abatements work." The Serco whistleblower says a paper trail would not be hard to locate. "All somebody needs to say to DIAC is, we would like to see a copy of their minutes from the abatement meetings that are held every Thursday at approximately 2:00pm [on Christmas Island]."

May 26, 2011 ABC News
Two private security whistleblowers say it is only a matter of time before an under-qualified or under-resourced colleague is partly responsible for the death of a suicidal detainee on Christmas Island. Current and former employees of contractor Serco fear soaring asylum seeker self-harm rates, combined with staff who are stretched beyond their capacities, could soon prove fatal at the immigration detention centre. The ABC investigative unit has obtained confidential documents dated April 27, April 29, May 6 and May 11, 2011, detailing 50 incidents including suicidal intent among asylum seekers, attempted hangings, self-harm with intent, homicidal thoughts and self-mutilation. "Serco had protocols to follow in respect to suicide watch and keeping them [unstable detainees] in separate areas but that wasn't occurring at all,'' the former Serco employee said. "They [Serco] certainly didn't have enough people trained to do a specified job like monitoring people who were on suicide watch - they just weren't qualified to do that. "There was a whole recording system too where these things had to be logged, and they just weren't being recorded. "We just didn't have the people to do it." The revelations come as an Australian Human Rights Commission report on Sydney's Villawood detention centre detailed extensive problems of self-harm and depression among detainees. Serco said it was not policy to comment or divulge protocol for dealing with suicidal detainees. It is understood, however, that suicidal tendencies should be picked up and reported on each client's personal file. All self-harm clients are to be reported and accessed by psychiatric nurses. Clients on suicide watch are isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member who signs off on inspections. In the most serious cases, detainees are taken to the local medical centre or hospital for treatment. The current Serco employee believes it is "a matter of time" until a tragedy occurs, and claims there have been 241 cases of attempted self-harm by detainees in Christmas Island immigration detention facilities in April. The ABC has been unable to verify this figure. Last week, ABC News Online reported allegations by detainees at Villawood detention centre in Sydney that an inadequate response from guards forced them to use a cigarette lighter to try to save the life of a man who had attempted suicide earlier this year. Detainees say they tried to burn through the rope Ahmed Al Akabi had used to take his own life. Serco declined to comment on the allegations but in a statement to the ABC following the report, said it ran a comprehensive staff training program that goes beyond its contractual obligations. "Serco is committed to doing everything we can to prevent those in our care from coming to harm," the statement said. "Our staff take this commitment extremely seriously and work hard to keep those in our care safe and secure." Protocol -- But the former Serco employee insists staff are not appropriately qualified, nor do they have a suitable guard-to-detainee ratio to always carry out recommended protocol. "To escort one person over from one camp to the medical centre was a whole logistics exercise in itself, especially on occasions when there might be only two officers to look after 600 or so clients in a camp," they said. "Sometimes they just didn't have the people available. "DIAC (the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) would say to us, 'well, that suicide person was reported at such and such time', there was a timeline - sometimes it would be hours, sometimes even days out of date - to escort them to the local hospital or the medical centre." "There was another time when [Serco] were putting people into an empty dining room where there was an officers' station and the officers would watch them through the glass. "The officers wanted to cover up the glass because they didn't want to be watching the inmates all the time or have the inmates watching them." The Opposition intends to introduce a motion calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the nation's immigration detention centres.

May 25, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department says riots at the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres are estimated to have caused about $9 million in damage. A number of buildings were destroyed during violent protests at both centres earlier this year. Department spokeswoman Fiona Lynch-Magor told a Senate hearing the company that runs the centres, Serco, will make an insurance claim for the damage. "We've made some early assessments of what we think those costs will be with our insurer," she said. "But Serco will be pursuing the insurance with their own insurer." The Immigration Department also says there were not enough federal police on Christmas Island to arrest asylum seekers who escaped from the detention centre during protests earlier this year. A large group of asylum seekers broke through the detention centre fence during the riots and the Senate hearing heard they were offered a lift back to the detention centre. Department spokeswoman Jackie Wilson says it was not possible to arrest the group. "The numbers of police on the island and the need to secure the airport as a priority did not enable us to have sufficient AFP on the island to do that," she said. "We were trying to do it in a peaceful way which required working with the clients rather than using AFP, which were being used for another purpose at the time." The Opposition says the lack of federal police left the island in a vulnerable position. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says it backs his argument for a parliamentary inquiry into the detention network. "[It's] very concerning that there were not sufficient police on the island when things broke out," he said. "What makes [this] worse is the department confirmed that the number and type of incidents were escalating and getting more serious, which was a clear indication that things were ... [the] temperature was rising and things were getting out of hand." The Government has already established a number of inquiries into the detention network.

May 6, 2011 Big Pond
A Christmas Island detention centre guard has accused management of a series of cover-ups. The guard said Serco, a private company that runs Australia's detention centres, was keeping the immigration department in the dark about the problems it faces at its facilities. Choosing to remain anonymous, he told ABC television on Thursday a management officer shredded a report detailing an incident in which he was attacked. 'You might get an unruly detainee, and Immigration will say Oh no, you can't do anything, you can't touch him' even if he pushes you, shoves ya, you just look at him,' the guard said. 'If you write him up, sometimes it goes into Bin 13 - and that's it.' He said Bin 13 was code among staff for the shredder. Asked if such cover-ups were a regular occurrence, he replied: 'I'd say so.' The man also accused Serco of inflating staff numbers and having guards on the rosters that didn't exist. 'Yep, they're not on the island, but they're on the roster.' The guard said he and his colleagues sometimes would go to work drunk, but were never punished because of the worker shortage. The ABC broadcast statements from two other Serco guards who agreed staff numbers were low. One said that during a riot in February, there had been 15 guards watching over 2500 detainees. Serco has been contacted for comment. The cover-up claims come as Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was forced to rebuke his department for not alerting him to the discovery of a homemade bomb at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre. He conceded he should have been alerted when the primitive device was found in March, just a month before a riot and major fire broke out, damaging nine buildings.

May 10, 2011 The Australian
THERE are now tensions among guards as well as detainees on Christmas Island. Up to 100 untrained casual detention workers at the centre claim they are doing the same work as qualified security officers but are paid about $800 a week less. Serco, the company chosen to run Australia's immigration detention centres, is battling a shortage of workers on the remote island and has grown concerned by recent resignations and dissatisfaction among the lower-paid workforce employed by subcontractor MSS. Serco has begun recruiting MSS workers in a bid to quell disquiet and prevent further resignations, The Australian has been told. "We're the ones doing all the work while Serco workers get the good pay," one MSS worker told The Australian. "Some Serco officers are sympathetic but some just lord it over you because you haven't done the Serco course. We're not even supposed to have contact with the clients (detainees) and we're running the place." Under Australian law, detention centre officers who interact with asylum-seekers in detention must complete a training course that usually takes six weeks. The arrival of untrained security subcontractors from MSS on Christmas Island last year helped Serco fill positions at the main detention centre and other camps as the boat arrivals rose. But The Australian has been told the move took the Department of Immigration and Citizenship by surprise. "DIAC didn't know they were here, on the island, already working," one immigration worker said. Serco employs more than 100 Christmas Islanders but dissatisfaction built up between the fly-in, fly-out workers after the MSS staff discovered their Serco colleagues had extra benefits. These include a "living away from home" allowance of $103 a day and a daily allowance if they shared a room with another guard.

April 19, 2011 ABC Radio Australia News
New allegations have surfaced that staff at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre are being pressured not to report troublesome incidents. Kaye Bernard from the Christmas Island Workers union claims the company that manages the facility, Serco, has instructed workers not to report incidents, including self-harm. Ms Bernard claims it's because the company doesn't want to be fined by the Government if its found to have breached its contractual obligations. "They've certainly instructed some of our members that they will not, that they will not tolerate them reporting incidents as they are required to do over the contract with DIAC and if you do report incidents you get a window seat, you get flown off the island," she said. In a statement Serco has strongly denied the allegation.

March 26, 2011 The West Australian
Asylum seekers involved in violent protests on Christmas Island armed themselves with riot gear including shields and handcuffs stolen from detention centre security guards. The West Australian has confirmed detainees managed to seize dangerous "restraint equipment" after storming one of the centre's administration buildings early in the riots. Stolen equipment included specialist riot shields, plastic flexi-handcuffs and protective equipment. The equipment was taken from the stores of the detention service provider Serco. "Some detainees are believed to have gained access to restraint equipment, including helmets and shields. All items were subsequently recovered or accounted for," Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's spokesman said. As well as the riot equipment, detainees are known to have armed themselves with broom handles and pool cues and a kind of accelerant described by some as a form of Molotov cocktail.

March 23, 2011 Big Pond News
Federal police have arrested two men in the jungle on Christmas Island during a search for escaped detainees following break-outs and riots at the detention centre. The arrests follow conflicting government statements on whether all detainees had been accounted for after police regained control of the centre. On Tuesday, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said a first head count at the centre had not tallied, so a second count, matching detainees with their photos, was being conducted by the centre's private operator Serco. As that count was under way, AFP Operations Commander Rob Gilliland told reporters on the island that two men were taken into custody by AFP officers conducting searches near the Northwest Point detention centre on Tuesday morning. The officers 'found these two individuals in the jungle', he said. Mass break-outs preceded last week's riots, in which accommodation marquees and small buildings were burnt down as police used tear gas and 'bean-bag bullets' to quell rioters throwing molotov cocktails and rocks. At least two break-outs occurred, one involving a perimeter fence being pushed down, and up to 170 detainees roamed the island, heightening safety fears in the Christmas Island community. Police, who now number 189 on the island, have secured the centre, imposing a night-time curfew and electrifying a security fence.

March 22, 2011 The Australian
THE former manager of the Christmas Island detention centre wrote to his boss at Serco five months before last week's riots, urging the company to hire more staff to tackle security and safety failures at the overcrowded facility. The staffing proposal document written last October by then centre manager, Ray Wiley, urged Serco, which operates all the detention centres, to hire more personnel and "provide proactive intervention rather than reactive damage control". The document, obtained by The Australian, details chronic overcrowding at Christmas Island's main detention centre, including 144 detainees housed in classrooms, 92 in storerooms, 30 in a visiting area and 240 in tents. In his letter, Mr Wiley, who has since left Serco, claims the detention centre was "typically 15 staff short per day" and says "even if all posts were filled, we would struggle". "This in itself does not enable confidence in being able to manage the centre in a controlled and ordered manner, affording a safe environment for staff, clients and visitors to the centre," he says. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. After violent rioting last Thursday night in which parts of the centre were burned to the ground, the Immigration Department asked the Australian Federal Police to take over control of the facility from Serco, which has a $370 million a year contract to run Australia's detention centres. Julia Gillard warned yesterday that the asylum-seekers involved in the riots would not go unpunished, saying they should face criminal charges. After taking charge of security at the problem-plagued centre, the AFP has switched on the electric fences and yesterday patrolled the compound with a tactical police dog to move detainees to their assigned areas. Some detainees have been refusing to move to the main compounds from the burnt-out remains of the Aqua and Lilac compounds at the edge of the centre. There are fears up to 20 escaped detainees are camping out in the jungle, eating robber crabs, and yesterday AFP operational commander Chris Lines acknowledged that an official head-count had not been completed. "What I can report is that it was another calm night at the centre, the third calm night in succession," Deputy Superintendent Lines said. Serco was reportedly fined more than $4m for contract breaches earlier this year. Rosters obtained by The Australian this month show that on some night shifts since November, there have been fewer than 10 guards in compounds holding about 1600 men.

March 19, 2011 The Australian
THE rioting detainees on Christmas Island have been warned that they face 20-year jail terms and having their asylum bids rejected, as the government tries to end six days of running battles with federal police that have left the detention centre in burnt-out ruins. The rioting sparked a renewed political battle yesterday, with the Greens describing the border protection system as having reached breaking point and the Coalition demanding the government suspend the asylum applications of the rioters to send a message to other asylum-seekers. The $400 million detention centre built by the Howard government was a scene of devastation yesterday, with tents and other accommodation burnt to the ground. A group of 280 non-violent detainees were being sheltered from others who had allegedly pressured them into joining the uprising. The centre's contractor, Serco, was yesterday using barbecues to feed detainees because of damage to the kitchens where meals are prepared for almost 3000 asylum-seekers. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen rejected opposition claims that Christmas Island was out of control, saying he was satisfied the AFP had taken stewardship of the detention facility. He appointed two former senior bureaucrats to review the performance of his department and Serco. Describing the violence as inexcusable, Mr Bowen said he had the power to reject visa applications on the basis of conduct and character, in a clear warning to the ringleaders that their activities could cost them asylum even if they are not charged. Mr Bowen told The Weekend Australian yesterday jail time for the rioters would not be ruled out.

March 1, 2011 The Age
THIRTEEN people were injured, windows were smashed and three asylum seekers were arrested during a riot at the crowded Christmas Island detention centre at the weekend. Federal police used capsicum spray to subdue some of those involved in the fracas, which led to several young Afghans being separated from other asylum seekers and locked in a dining room overnight for their own protection. Sources said the altercation was similar to a violent incident earlier last month at another facility, the Darwin Airport Lodge, where hundreds of asylum seekers are being held. While the catalyst is believed to be tension between Afghan Hazara boys and the protective fathers of girls in the centre, advocates say the violence is the consequence of frustration over indefinite detention, cramped conditions and inadequate facilities. Many of the unaccompanied minors are unable to attend school on the island. All are denied access to the community oval adjacent to the centre because of a dispute with the local cricket club.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

December 2, 2010 Daily Telegraph
THE Department of Immigration is investigating a brawl which broke out between 100 asylum seekers, some teenagers, at Christmas Island Detention Centre. Just before 10pm (WST) on Monday, a fight broke out at the detention centre's construction camp involving Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan asylum seekers and Indonesian boat crew. A Department spokesman said the construction camp is where many of the unaccompanied minors who arrive at Christmas Island are held and the brawl did involve teenagers. "It was just a bit of a scuffle between a bunch of teenagers really and it was brought under control fairly quickly," he said. Three detainees suffered minor injuries as a result of the fight and were taken to hospital after being assessed by the detention centre's health service providers. Police were called and the Department ordered a full investigation and report into the brawl by the centre's service provider Serco.

September 13, 2010 The Australian
A VIOLENT and bloody riot erupted between Sri Lankan and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island’s detention centre one hour after guards decided it was safe to re-open security doors separating the brawling ethnic groups. The riot on November 21 last year involved up to 200 men and saw Sri Lankan asylum-seekers brandish metal soccer goalposts and attack a vastly outnumbered group of Afghan detainees, prosecutors allege. Opening the Commonwealth’s case today against five Sri Lankan men charged with participating in a riot and possessing a weapon, Ron Davies QC said four hours before the rampage a violent argument between Sri Lankans and Afghans resulted in security doors being closed. The doors separated detainees from accommodation compounds and a communal recreation area. Mr Davies said the doors re-opened around 7pm and about an hour later tensions boiled over and the riot began, resulting in 50 people being injured. “Clients (detainees) were attacking each other with anything and everything they could, buckets, pool cues, mops, brooms, chairs,” Serco operations manager Mark Bonccorso told Perth Magistrates Court today. Mr Bonccorso - whose employer managed the centre for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship - said after the initial argument he spoke to the detainees involved who told him the problem was resolved. When the security doors were raised he assured two Afghan detainees that they could return to their compound because the Sri Lankans had told him “it was over”. But Mr Bonccorso told magistrate Steve Malley that when the riot broke out he saw one of the Afghan men he had previously reassured with severe facial injuries. “He approached me and said to me, ‘you said it would be safe’,” he said. He told the court that at one point there was at least 100 Sri Lankans moving towards 40 Afghans, some of whom were trying to retreat. “(Sri Lankans) had got towards the goal posts and they had physically ripped them apart to arm themselves with metal bars... they started to advance to the Afghans,” he said. Mr Bonccorso said he saw one Afghan man who was not participating in the riot struck in the head from behind by a Sri Lankan armed with a tree stump. He said he and other guards tried to break up the riot by arming themselves with sticks and trying to deflect blows between the asylum-seekers. “My impression was the Afghans were losing and losing pretty badly,” he said.

August 17, 2010 The Australian
IMMIGRATION officers are investigating how a Kurdish detainee escaped from Christmas Island's Detention Centre for at least nine hours today. He is back in the centre tonight after the Australian Federal Police found him about 500m from the boundary at 3.30pm local time (6.30pm AEST). The AFP took him to the local hospital, and he had no apparent injuries. The Immigration Department has ordered a report of the incident from the contractor running the centre, Serco, after a headcount at 7am yesterday confirmed someone was unaccounted for. Serco will be fined if the escape is found to have resulted from lax work practices or incompetence. Serco initially believed the man escaped by digging a hole under a perimeter fence, taking a pillow and a blanket with him into inhospitable jungle. In April, a man escaped from the centre by scaling two high fences. A department spokeswoman said the method of the most recent escape was still being investigated, but there was no evidence to show he dug himself out.

May 4, 2010 The Australian
A DISGRUNTLED detainee left his tent, scaled two wire fences and stalked off into thick jungle on Christmas Island last Friday, sparking an Australian Federal Police operation and warnings to detention centre staff not to speak about the security breach. The man was seen about 10.30am (WST) escaping from the $400 million Immigration Detention Centre, built by the Howard government with security akin to a maximum-security prison. He was spotted climbing an electric fence that The Australian understands was not activated. He was picked up by the AFP close to the centre about 2.30pm (local time). The Department of Immigration and Citizenship refused to answer questions about whether the fences were electrified, or had been since the Rudd Government placed the first detainees in the centre in December 2008. But a spokesman for the Department said the man had been gone for about an hour, between about 1.30pm and 2.30pm. "He was monitored while he was out," the spokesman said. The department and contractor Serco has told workers not to talk about the escape. Escaping from the detention centre is almost certainly futile; the tiny island is 2700km by sea from Perth. Anyone who breaks out faces sheer cliffs in one direction, jungle in another and a 20km walk to a settlement where they would stand out. The escape comes amid increasing anxiety among detainees about an apparent toughening of the Department's approach. As the man bolted, a group of Afghans inside the centre was protesting against a decision to reject 25 of them for visas. The rejections came as a shock because no Afghan asylum-seeker arriving by boat has been sent home by the Rudd Government. But Immigration Minister Chris Evans has hinted that more rejections are imminent.

March 12, 2010 The Australian
PROSECUTORS are unsure whether they have sufficient evidence against 11 asylum-seekers charged over a riot inside the Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island in November. The commonwealth revealed its uncertainty about the case at the Christmas Island courthouse yesterday when the nine Sri Lankan men and two Afghanis made their first appearances to answer charges of taking part in a riot and wielding weapons, including a chair. They all pleaded not guilty after arriving under guard in a minibus from the Phosphate Hill detention compound. Prosecutor Joel Grinceri told the court the commonwealth needed more time to assess the evidence and find out about the availability of witnesses to the riot. "The commonwealth DPP is not in possession of all relevant material from the Australian Federal Police to enable proper consideration of the sufficiency of the evidence and the possible approach to prosecute these persons," Mr Grinceri said. The Australian understands CCTV footage of some crucial parts of the rioting either does not exist or is of poor quality. Julian Burnside QC has been asked to represent the asylum-seekers if the matters go to trial. "Identification will be a major issue in this case," Mr Burnside told The Australian. "The role of Serco (the contractor that runs the detention centre and supplies guards) in the disturbance will also be an issue."

February 27, 2010 Green Left Weekly
An asylum seeker accused of rioting in the Christmas Island detention centre on November 21 recently contacted a refugee advocate about living conditions inside. The refugee advocate asked Green Left Weekly to withhold both their name. At the trial of the accused rioters on January 20, the magistrate did not issue orders to move them. Yet the accused were moved to “red compound”. The asylum seeker said they felt violated by surveillance cameras in the toilets, and complained about this. They have since been moved to the centre’s “alpha compound”. There are no surveillance cameras in the toilets at the alpha compound, but it is more crowded. The asylum seeker said he was in a 12-by-10 foot room with two others. It was too small to fit a table or cupboard, or to display religious items. He said they were not allowed out to the oval, church or the pool. They were surrounded by an electric fence. They had access to mobile phones in red compound, but they are banned in alpha compound. There are two computers for 100 people. He wrote: “We can’t inform this message [to] anybody, so I inform you: what can we do?” He was distraught about the fate of his family, fearful of his fate in detention, and desperate to continue tertiary studies. He was very appreciative of what practical help the refugee advocate could provide, which was to send him books on learning English. That there was a need to send books suggests little had changed since a 2003 report characterised the detention centre’s library services to asylum seekers as “leftovers and scraps”. The living conditions sounded like a Siberian prison camp under Stalin. Serco, the company that runs the privatised detention centre, refused to speak to GLW. However, a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesperson answered some questions by email. DIAC advised that if refugees are unhappy with their living conditions they can “raise such issues with the detention services provider”. The refugee advocate told GLW that the ombudsman plans to visit the island. It is not clear if the ombudsman will have access to complaints. There is a higher security area known as “red compound”. Surveillance of toilet areas is used only if inmates pose a very high risk to themselves or others. Alpha compound is an “ordinary holding area”, DIAC told GLW. Asylum seekers are given 50 credit points (worth about $1) per week with which they can purchase items such as cigarettes or phone cards to use with fixed phones. According to DIAC, many of the books available were “sourced from the Christmas Island local school, while some books, magazines and newspapers have been donated by people living on the island”. However, a “large order” of Tamil books that includes novels, cricket books and magazines had just been delivered. Given the serious gap between the asylum seeker’s evidence and DIAC’s description, it is of grave concern that ordinary Australians cannot freely contact staff or residents at the centre. Serco Australia has pledged to “meet the highest standards of performance and accountability”. But has it?

November 24, 2009 The Age
RIOTING refugees could be kicked out of Australia for their part in a wild brawl that broke out in Christmas Island's detention centre on Saturday night. Security is also set to be beefed up following the riot, in which 150 Afghan and Tamil asylum seekers attacked each other with pool cues, brooms and tree branches. The fight was sparked by a dispute over a game of pool. As a Federal Police probe began, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned that the ringleaders had jeopardised their asylum claims: ''If a detainee on Christmas Island has committed a serious offence this will be taken into consideration as part of the assessment as to whether or not they are granted a visa.'' A fourth asylum seeker who was badly injured in the brawl was flown to Perth for treatment, joining three other men already in Fremantle Hospital, in a stable condition. While 43 asylum seekers were hurt, five guards employed by the centre's manager Serco suffered minor injuries. Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the warring groups were being kept separate and he promised tighter security. The problem started when two Afghan men using a pool table refused to give it up and taunted waiting Tamils, a source said. ''The Afghans kept heckling and wouldn't get out. Normally when two people lose, they leave and let the next two have a go. The men exchanged foul language and one Afghan hit the Tamil guy and the Tamil guy hit back and then it escalated with pool cues,'' the source said. A fight erupted and continued for 45 minutes before it was broken up by Serco staff. After detainees were locked in their rooms for an hour, those treated for wounds returned to find 50 Afghan men waiting. Another brawl erupted. The source said Sinhalese Sri Lankans backed Tamil countrymen in the fight that left some with broken bones and head injuries. Senator Evans dismissed suggestions ethnic tensions, such as resentment towards the Afghans for getting visas quicker, triggered the fight. He said Sri Lankan men had become increasingly anxious after some of their countrymen were deported a few weeks ago. ''There has been some increased tension around the Sri Lankans in particular being a bit concerned, as we have had some people removed back to Sri Lanka,'' Mr Evans said. He added he was ''quite comfortable'' that the centre was being managed properly, despite becoming increasingly overcrowded as more detainees were squeezed in.

Corrections Corporation of Australia
CCA

January 21, 2006 Sidney Morning Herald
HERE'S a conundrum for you. While the introduction of super fund choice mid last year was supposed to open up the options for the placement of your retirement savings, a growing number of fund members are finding their options shrinking. That's because choice, and the introduction of a new licensing regime by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, are forcing fund trustees to seriously rethink their commitment to running a fund. A recent Federal Court case involving trustees sued by fund members for losses incurred because their fund was not adequately diversified will further test that commitment. The court case, Kernaghan v Corrections Corporation of Australia Staff Superannuation Pty Ltd, revolved around whether the trustees were able to claim on their liability insurance, as they had settled out of court with the 73 fund members who originally sued them. But it highlights how even a fund that has produced good performance can run into problems if the trustees don't do their job properly. In a nutshell, the case arose because the super fund, which had $5 million of its $6.5 million in real estate investments, was suddenly faced with having to pay out a large number of fund members due to retrenchments. The employer sponsoring the fund lost two contracts in the second half of 2000 and the fund needed more than $4.6 million to pay out members' entitlements before the end of that year. While the fund had $1.5 million in liquid assets, its major asset was $4.2 million tied up in units in a trust which owned two properties in Queensland. It also owned two industrial properties in Victoria valued at $310,000 and $550,000 respectively. To pay out members it was forced to put the properties on the market. The Queensland properties, in particular, represented a problem as the remaining period on the leases was relatively short and unless new leases could be negotiated quickly, the property was unlikely to be sold at the book values. Tensions with fund members were exacerbated when the trustees reduced the interim earnings rate on their accounts and then effectively froze their accounts so that no members could be paid out until the trustees knew what the real value of the properties would be. As you can imagine, these weren't ideal sale conditions and the properties were sold at a discount. Both Victorian properties were sold at a loss on their original sale price. The trustees, who had been warned before the retrenchments that the fund needed to be better diversified, eventually settled out of court and paid the members $275,000 plus costs, which amounted to $539,000. While one of the founding trustees of the fund strongly defended the fund's investment strategy in court and pointed to the fact that it had a strong earnings history, it was interesting to note Justice North's comments on this point. He said, strong earnings history aside, the investment strategy was fundamental flawed. "It may have been an appropriate strategy for an entrepreneurial enterprise, but it was ill advised for a fund designed to provide security for employees in their retirement and for which risk minimisation should have been a primary concern," he said. Justice North agreed with the trustees' legal advice that if the case had gone to court, the fund members would probably have succeeded. While most major super funds do have diversified investment strategies, the case sounds a couple of warnings. First, that producing good returns isn't enough. Risk management and minimisation is also an essential part of managing other people's retirement savings. And second, that liquidity is a big issue for super funds. While this fund may well have been sufficiently liquid to meet its obligations if the members hadn't been retrenched, funds need to be able to handle the unexpected. And big investments in illiquid assets like property don't let them do this - a fact that many self-managed super funds concentrating on property investments should also consider.

Curtin Detention Centre
Australia
Serco (formerly run by Global solution, GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
November 26, 2011 The West Australian
A Perth man once charged with people smuggling has been working as a guard at an immigration detention centre for the past year. Jarajo Zirak, 22, has been working at the Perth Airport centre but his employer, Serco, stood him down on Thursday after The Weekend West made inquiries about his employment. In a separate development, Serco, which runs Australia's immigration detention centres, has been ordered to investigate claims detainees at the Curtin centre near Derby were pressured by staff to pay money owed for their voyage to Australia. Mr Zirak, an Afghan refugee who has lived in Perth for five years, was arrested outside his family's Thornlie home in April last year and charged with organising or facilitating the proposed entry into Australia of five or more people while in Indonesia between May 22 and November 26, 2009. The charge was dropped a month later. At the time, Australian Federal Police reportedly said there were "significant changes in the strength of evidence from the witness" that were beyond the control of the AFP and prosecutors. A few months later, Serco employed Mr Zirak as a client service officer and, until this week, he had regular contact with asylum seekers. He declined to comment through his lawyer yesterday. A police check would not have shown Mr Zirak's charge because he was not convicted, but a Google search reveals media reports on his arrest. A Serco spokesman said an investigation was under way into his employment.

November 3, 2011 The Australian
A FEMALE security guard suffered head injuries when she was allegedly bashed amid rising tensions among asylum-seekers at Western Australia's Curtin Immigration Detention Centre. The woman's colleagues discovered her semi-conscious in a laundry room in the centre's accommodation compound at about 3am yesterday. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship said a small fire also had been lit in a washing machine in the laundry room, escalating fears of further attempts to burn down buildings. Centre sources told The Australian there were rising tensions at the centre with staff worried that a full-scale riot would break out. There had been several incidents in recent days, The Australian was told. The centre was reopened last year by the federal government.

September 7, 2011 ABC
A parliamentary committee has heard many of the Christmas Island detention centre staff have not had the necessary training to deal with detainees' high rates of self harm and attempted suicide. The committee, which is assessing the impact of mandatory detention, spent two days inspecting the facilities and talking to workers there. The committee's deputy chair, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says because of the island's remoteness and the stressful nature of the work, it is difficult to recruit staff with the mental health skills needed. "Many of the workers in the centres are getting on the job training yet they are dealing with very vulnerable people," she said. "We had one man attempt to hang himself while we were visiting the facility and of course that happens to be a daily occurrence." The committee will tour the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's far north near Derby, today. The joint select committee is visiting detention centres across Australia, assessing a range of issues relating to the cost, impact and effectiveness of mandatory detention. The group will also look at the role of government agencies and private contractors within the detention network, before making their recommendations to parliament. They are expected to hold talks with local hospital staff and workers from Serco which operates the Curtin facility.

August 25, 2011 The West Australian
A former Serco employee at Curtin Detention Centre says treatment of detainees by some staff members was "outrageously brutal" and they were bullied constantly. Seven asylum seekers were flown from Curtin and put in isolation on Christmas Island on Tuesday night because of increased tensions at the remote centre, 40km from Derby. The Immigration Department confirmed two men tried to escape on Friday. They climbed an internal fence but did not get past the electric perimeter fence. A spokeswoman denied the men were injured in the incident and said they were not among three detainees denied treatment at Broome Hospital on Tuesday for speaking to a member of the public in a waiting room. The former employee, who recently resigned and asked not to be named, spoke of growing tensions at Curtin where there were three staff who had "no training, no idea and no perceived intention to provide any welfare" to detainees. "The fact two Serco guards have committed suicided since April is evidence that not everyone can live with this on their conscience," they said. An elderly Afghan man who had asked in July to be moved to a single room because he believed he "smelled" - a problem attributed to mental health issues - was manhandled by staff. They claimed a department case manager and Serco welfare officer called the man a liar after a short interview and, as he tried to leave the room, two "burly" Serco guards shoved him to the ground. He spent four days in hospital with back injuries, the former employee said. Employees were scared to talk to anyone outside the centre about such incidents, particularly the media, for fear of being identified or sacked. "The expulsion of the Serco man at Christmas Island recently and the sacking of the mental health nurse from Darwin last week is evidence that it is a real threat," they said. Habib, 28, an Afghan asylum seeker released in July after 15 months in detention, fears for friends inside. He said some staff were uncaring and detainees were scared to speak out in case it affected their status. Many were depressed after waiting many months for interviews. The immigration spokeswoman rejected claims detainees were treated badly. "We require that our staff and Serco staff treat detainees with dignity and respect," she said. There were complaint processes and allegations were always investigated. She said there were no recent complaints of mistreatment.

August 23, 2011 ABC
A refugee advocacy group says three Curtin detention centre detainees were denied medical treatment for talking to a member of the public at a hospital waiting room. Police and the Immigration Department have confirmed a confrontation happened at Broome regional hospital this morning as the detainees waited for appointments. An argument broke out between refugee advocate Jackie Rehmani and Servo security guards supervising the men. Ms Rehmani says the trouble began when Serco staff told her not to speak to the detainees. "At this point the guards became more irate and asked me to leave and to desist talking to the detainees," she said. "All I was doing was asking them their names, how long they'd been in detention and the officers were very aggressive and intimidatory towards the detainees." Ms Rehmani says it was a distressing scene. "The senior officer left to call the centre management and then (they were) taken out of the hospital and were taken back to the detention centre," she said. "These people get poor health care as it is and their specialist medical appointments were cancelled simply because a member of the public was talking to them." Police were called to attend but say no-one was charged. A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department says the Serco staff stopped the conversation to protect the privacy of the detainees.

July 11, 2011 The Australian
THE company running Australia's immigration detention centres has acknowledged the work is traumatic for staff following the death of a young guard troubled by the hanging of a teenage asylum-seeker. Kieran Webb died while holidaying with his family last Wednesday after working for six months as a security officer at the Curtin immigration detention centre in Western Australia's far north, according to a memo to all staff from government contractor Serco last Friday. There were no suspicious circumstances, Serco Immigration Services managing director Chris Manning wrote in the memo. "If you feel the need for emotional support arising from the work you do, please consider speaking to someone," he said. "It is important we acknowledge that our line of work can at times place us in difficult and traumatic situations as we manage vulnerable people in our care." Five detainees have killed themselves in immigration detention centres since last September. Self-harm and threats of self-harm occur daily, and a psychologist is employed full-time by Serco to help guards deal with the fallout of acts such as lip-sewing, slashing and attempted hangings. The Australian has been told detainees are taking increasingly dramatic steps to draw attention to their grievances. On Christmas Island last Thursday, a detainee sewed his lips together and had a friend tie him to the compound fence in a crucifix position. On March 28, Mr Webb was among guards who cut down a 19-year-old Afghan detainee who hanged himself in his room. Mr Webb was deeply affected by the death and by the unrest that followed, according to guards who worked alongside him at the time.

April 25, 2011 The Age
DETENTION centres on both sides of the country were in turmoil last night, with three detainees maintaining a roof-top protest at Sydney's Villawood facility and hunger strikes under way at the Curtin Centre in Western Australia. The Sydney protesters - now in their sixth day on the roof at Villawood - claimed they are prepared to die unless their demands for asylum in Australia are met. One of the men, Majid Parhizkar, a 24-year-old Iranian, said the three were ''sick, hungry, cold, wet and dizzy'', having had nothing but water since last Wednesday. He said he would not come down until the Department of Immigration granted him a bridging visa that would allow him to stay in Australia with his mother, sister and brother. It was his second visa application rejection, 10 days ago, that prompted him to protest. The other two men - stateless Kurds Mehdi and Amir - want a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. A protest by refugee advocates has been planned for outside the gates of Villawood today. The unrest spread to Western Australia's Curtin Air Base detention centre over the weekend, and 16 refugee activists were arrested late yesterday afternoon while blocking the access road to the centre. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, said a hunger strike and sit-in involving about 300 detainees was expected to escalate.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

August 29, 2010 Green Left
On August 23, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reported that a 30-year-old man found unconscious in the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia had died. After his collapse on August 21, the man was taken to Derby hospital, 40 kilometres away. That night, he was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, more than 2000km south of Derby. He died the next day. DIAC would not tell Green Left Weekly the man’s name, but said it didn’t believe there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A Coronial inquiry will be held. Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson, said on August 23: “This man’s death raises yet more questions about remote detention centres. “It seems highly likely that if this man had been living in the community, the medical services to treat any medical condition and the emergency services needed to save his life may have been available for him. We want to see a complete medical audit of all the detention centres.” Under the former Howard Coalition government, immigration detention services were outsourced to GSL (Australia) Pty Ltd. GSL subcontracted medical services to International Medical Health Services (IHMS). Numerous reports exposed the handballing of responsibility under this arrangement. Curtin, Woomera and Baxter detention centres were shut down in an aura of shame. (The federal Labor government re-opened Curtin in June.) Despite its promises to end outsourcing of immigration detention services, the Rudd Labor government simply changed the service provider to SERCO, and contracted directly with IHMS to provide general and mental health care. GLW was unable to find an IHMS webpage, or any description of its services. When asked about healthcare arrangements at Curtin, and specifically whether there was a resident doctor, the DIAC spokesperson simply told GLW: “Curtin immigration detention centre (IDC) provides mental health support teams and medical staff.”

July 19, 2005 The Age
The Immigration Department is under fire again for failing to protect a woman who was sexually abused in front of her daughter in a detention centre.  The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has found that the department failed in its duty of care and breached her human rights.  The woman, an Iranian refugee from a minority religious group, complained of two violent attacks by other detainees at the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.
In one incident a man had tried to rape her, and in another a man punched her in the chest and face, tore her clothes off and broke her finger. Her young daughter, who came to her aid, was also punched.  In preliminary findings seen by The Age, Human Rights Commission president John von Doussa slammed the department and the manager of the Curtin centre, Australasian Correctional Management.  News of his finding follows the damning indictment of the department over the illegal detention of Cornelia Rau and the mistaken deportation of Vivian Alvarez Solon.  In his report last week, former Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer identified "a serious cultural problem" and called for urgent reform.

June 2, 2005 The Australian
HE was locked up alongside convicted criminals in a maximum-security prison, but Iranian asylum-seeker Zal Shahbazi was happy to be there. "It was really much better than detention," he said. "I had a terrible time in prison, but in detention they put pressure on you mentally because you don't know when you will be free. As the Howard Government shows signs of softening on its hardline policy of mandatory detention for women and children, Mr Shahbazi recalls his blackest days in the now-defunct Curtin detention centre. In April 2002, he was locked in the mess hall with about 40 other detainees, including women and children. "Forty guards came and opened one of the doors, and they started beating us," Mr Shahbazi said. "Everyone -- even the women with kids. Everyone was yelling, we were terrified. They beat me with a baton, they beat my leg and my back." After complaining, Mr Shahbazi was arrested and sent to Broome Regional Prison, where he shared a cell and one toilet with up to eight maximum-security prisoners. His charge was damaging commonwealth property during the clash with Australasian Correctional Management guards. He was told he would be on remand for three weeks.

February 11, 2002
Federal police were investigating claims a female asylum seeker was sexually assaulted at the Curtin detention centre, Justice Minister Chris Ellison said today.  The woman had since been moved to the Baxter detention centre in South Australia as the Australian Federal Police looked into claims the Iranian woman was a victim of assault mid-last year.  Senator Ellison said the AFP was made aware last year of two separate allegations the woman had been assaulted, but neither claim involved sexual assault, and only one was referred to West Australian police.  However, human rights organisation Amnesty International intervened and wrote to the AFP alleging the assaults were sexual. (Sidney Morning News )

January 27, 2003
Six months after an alleged sexual assault at Curtin Detention Centre, Western Australia will investigate.  Federal and state police had declined to investigate the alleged attempted rape of an Iranian mother because each said it was the responsibility of the other.  But, after The Age reported the stand-off yesterday, Western Australia's Police Minister, Michelle Roberts, called for a full report from her state police commissioner, Barry Matthews.  Unfortunately, he said, state police received the complaint from detention centre management only after Curtin had largely closed and the women had been moved to Baxter in South Australia.  The alleged victim, a Sabian Mandaean (follower of John the Baptist), said in a statement to Federal Police that she was punched in the chest and face, her clothes were torn off and her finger was broken in the assault by an 18-year-old Afghan.  Her young daughter, who came to her aid, was also punched.  There is no agreement assigning responsibility for policing in detention centres, although the AFP wrote to Amnesty International that such an agreement was a "very high priority".  The AFP is negotiating agreements with each state.  In the meantime, according to Amnesty national director Mara Mousatafine, women and girls in detention centres have no legal protection against sexual violence.  (The Age)

August 19, 2002
Conditions in Australia's remote detention centres resembled metal hospitals but without proper staff and facilities, Human Rights Commissioner Sev Ozdowski said today.  The key cause of mental health problems for detainees were long periods of detention rather than detention conditions, he told federal parliamentary human rights sub-committee.  "To be perfectly honest, it looks to me that especially Woomera, Curtin and Port Hedland are a bit like mental hospitals, only without proper staff to run mental hospitals and without proper facilities."  Such problems had not existed a year ago, he said.  "This is really associated with the length of detention."  (The Age)

April 23, 2002
Hysterical scenes of bleeding asylum seekers smashing their heads against walls and demanding to be released from their cells at Curtin Detention Centre have been recorded on a video leaked to the media. The video, made by staff at the West Australian centre, showed distraught Afghani asylum seekers hurling themselves against walls in the lead up to a riot at the centre last year. Centre operator Australian Correctional Management (ACM) recorded the incident for internal purposes but it was leaked to ABC's Lateline program last night. An advocate for the detainees told Lateline that hunger strikers wanted a lawyer but authorities told them they would have to pay for their own legal representation. Since they had no money they asked if it was possible to sell their own blood so they could hire a lawyer because they had nothing else to offer, the advocate said. Lateline said the emotionally charged scenes preceded a riot last June which resulted in massive damage to the desert camp. (The Age)

April 23, 2002
Australia's inhumane detention centres should be closed, Greens Senator Bob Brown has said. Australia's inhumane detention centres should be closed, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. Senator Brown told journalists in Hobart that leaked video footage from the Curtin Detention Centre, broadcast by ABC TV last night, was now going around the world and would further destroy Australia's good reputation. He said the centres were modern concentration camps which inflicted mental horror on men, women and children. "We don't keep rapists and murderers in jails with such harsh mental conditions as concentration camps like Woomera and Curtin," he said. Senator Brown said the government's selective reporting of events in the centres was censorship like South Africa's apartheid. (The Age)

April 23, 2002
Detainees at the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia were being treated humanely, Prime Minister John Howard said today. Mr Howard said he had seen video footage aired last night on the ABC depicting alleged mistreatment of asylum seekers. He said he had sought advice on allegations there was an unwillingness to provide medical attention, but advice from the Immigration Minister's office said this was not true. He said the staff at the centre in the state's north were in fact prevented from administering medical attention because of the conduct of the detainees. (The Age)

April 22, 2002
The Federal Government has warned it may use force to end a tense stand-off between asylum seekers and authorities at the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia. After three days of violent unrest, the government was losing patience, acting Immigration Minister Chris Ellison said yesterday. Negotiations were continuing with detainees armed with curtain rods, sharpened broom sticks, knives and cleavers in the main compound at the centre, he said. About 300 detainees have refused to leave the centre's main compound since rioting broke out on Friday night. Twenty-eight guards and several detainees were injured in the violence. Fires were lit in accommodation blocks, activity rooms and the kitchen were ransacked and thousands of dollars worth of equipment such as computers, sewing machines and hairdressing facilities were destroyed. (The Age)

April 21, 2002
Detainees went on a rampage at the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia, damaging buildings and leaving one guard in hospital after their applications for asylum were rejected. Buildings and equipment were damaged, fires were lit and blankets and clothing ransacked during the rampage, leaving what the Immigration Department described as a substantial bill. Fourteen Australian Correctional Management officers were injured during the riot which began at dinner time on Friday night. Acting Immigration Minister Chris Ellison told journalists the detainees involved had had their applications for asylum rejected. "We understand that the majority of the people involved in this disturbance had their applications rejected and are awaiting removal," Senator Ellison said. The Australian Democrats said the management of detention centres was out of control. "(Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock) must recognise that his detention regime has failed asylum seekers and failed the taxpayer," Democrats immigration spokesman Andrew Bartlett said. (Sidney Morning News)

April 20, 2002
Staff at the Curtin detention centre were injured and buildings damaged during rioting by detainees last night. An Immigration Department spokesman confirmed there was a disturbance at the centre near Derby in which several staff were hurt and buildings and property damaged. He did not know how many were involved in the riot. One staff member was taken to Derby Regional Hospital by ambulance. Natasha Verco, from the Refugee Freedom Bus organisation, said she received a call from a detainee in the centre about 8 pm pleading for help. Ms Verco claimed the man said guards were dressed in riot gear and were systematically beating people. "I could hear screaming in the background and he said there was blood everywhere," she said. But the department spokesman denied the allegation that detainees were being beaten. "The only injuries have been to the ACM (Australasian Correctional Management) officers," the spokesman said. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock last week announced the centre, 44 kilometres from Derby, would be closed because of a drop in illegal boat people. Refugee Action Collective spokesman Ian Rintoul said Curtin should be scrapped because it was remote, inhospitable and the most repressive detention centre. (The Age)

April 11, 2002
The closure of the Curtin detention centre will badly affect the local economy, with the loss of about 20 jobs, according to the Derby-West Kimberley shire. Shire president Elsia (Elsia) Archer said she was disappointed to receive the phone call from Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock this morning that the centre would close. "I'm disappointed but I guess I knew it was going to close. We tried to keep it open," Ms Archer said. "It will have an impact on the community." Ms Archer said the closure was because the Royal Australian Air Force wanted the space at its base back. (The Age)

April 11, 2002
Woomera detention centre will be scaled down and the Curtin centre closed as part of a long term federal government plan. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock made the announcement today following a review of detention centres across the country. The government plan developed from the review included the scaling down of Woomera, in South Australia, and the closure of West Australia's Curtin facility, he said in a statement released to reporters shortly before a press conference in Sydney. Mr Ruddock said the Baxter centre would be able to house 1,200 asylum seekers, with about two people to each room and ensuite facilities available. "It involves a number of internally configurated compounds which enable people to live in smaller communities with a high degree of amenities," Mr Ruddock said in Sydney. He said the Woomera scale-back would result in its capacity being dropped from 2000 to 800. The detention centre on Christmas Island would increase to 400 places by July and about 1,000 by the end of the year, he said. (The Age)

October 30, 2001
A prisons watchdog has described conditions in Australia's migrant detention centres as "disgraceful" and has called for an independent inspectorate to improve standards. The Inspector of Custodial Services in Western Australia, Richard Harding, says a visit to the Curtin Detention centre near Derby in June revealed overcrowded accommodation, broken toilets and inadequate medical and dental services.  Professor Harding says an independent federal inspectorate would ensure the centres are managed properly by contracted firms like Australasian Correctional Management. (World News from Australia)

June 12, 2001
They were banned from speaking to the media, but the desperate asylum-seekers refused to be silenced after risking weeks at sea to get to Australia only to be held behind barbed wire in remote outback camps.  First came the children, may skipping and giggling, holding placards declaring: "Please save us from these cages" and "Stop demonizing us."  One girl smiled shyly as she showed visitors her neatly written plea: "Please stop hating us."  The camps are normally closed to public scrutiny but Curtin was opened briefly on Sunday.  Media groups had to sign undertakings they would not interview detainees or take photographs that would identify them.  Detainees at the three biggest camps -- Port Hedland, Curtin and Woomera -- have staged peaceful breakouts and hunger strikes, sewn their lips together, and unleashed bursts of violence to protest being held, some fro years, and denied rights afforded to those refugees who arrive legally.  Critics of the camps protest the outsourcing of their management to the U.S.-owned prison management firm Australasian Correctional Management, saying it is wrong for a private firm seeking to seek profit from managing refugees.  (Reuters)

Darwin Airport Lodge Detention Centre
Darwin, Australia
Serco

January 5, 2012 North Territory News
THE Territory Coroner has called for a review into the number of nurses working at a Darwin prison after a man "suddenly" died of a heart attack in custody. Joanne Michel, health services manager at Darwin Corrections Centre, told a coronial inquest that there was only one nurse on duty when a young father died on a day she described as a "disaster". Ms Michel wrote a letter to her manager about under-staffing at the prison as a "cry for help" after the 33-year-old man's death on March 12 last year. "It was me venting my frustration," she said in November last year. NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh found yesterday that "no one was at fault" but said lessons could be learnt from the tragedy. He recommended that the NT Health Department review the "appropriate" nurse-to-patient ratio at the prison - that can house up to 700 inmates. He also asked the department to take into account the country's "best practice" when negotiating contracts for the prison's health services. "The tender process should reflect the fact that the Territory prison population is over 80 per cent Aboriginal," he said. The inquest also heard that nursing staff could not contact on-call doctor Carol Tainsch on that day because she couldn't hear her phone ring. Mr Cavanagh said it was "entirely unsatisfactory" that an after hours doctor could not be reached at the weekend. But he said: "I am not able to say whether the failure of nursing staff to reach Dr Tainsch made any difference to the tragic outcome." Mr Cavanagh also recommended that the Government implement a protocol that would give nurses more than one number to call for an after hours doctor.

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

September 20, 2011 AAP
Three asylum seekers are on the run in Darwin after slipping away from a weekend church service. The Vietnamese men were part of a group of 50 Christians who were allowed to attend the Catholic church service on Sunday, escorted by security guards. But part way through the service it is believed the men left the church and have not been seen since.  A spokeswoman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said local and federal police had been called in to try and locate the men. "When the service finished the detention services provider staff identified that the three detainees were missing," the spokeswoman said. "The department views any escape from our immigration detention facilities very seriously," she said. DIAC has called for an investigation and report that will include details of the guarding and security arrangements in place at the time of the escape.
August 19, 2011 The Age
A MENTAL health nurse has been sacked from a Darwin detention centre for saying she believes mandatory detention contributes to mental illness in asylum seekers. A letter sent by her employer, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), and obtained by The Age, says her job was terminated last Friday after Serco detention centre managers and Immigration Department staff complained that she was ''expressing negative political opinions'' about detention. The federal government's Detention Health Advisory Group, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian Psychological Society yesterday called for mandatory detention to be abandoned. Their call came after documents submitted to a parliamentary inquiry showed high levels of self-harm, with 213 detainees treated for self-inflicted injuries and 700 for ''voluntary starvation'' in the first six months of this year. The chairwoman of the advisory group, Professor Louise Newman, said she was concerned that a political view could be held against a health worker. IHMS spokeswoman Melissa Lysaght said last night that staff were entitled to political opinions but needed to work in a team environment. ''In fact, that is not a reason for terminating someone, because everyone is entitled to a political opinion,'' Ms Lysaght said. ''In hindsight, the phrasing of the letter was incorrect.'' She said the woman had been sacked for professional standards reasons, after working there for two weeks. Amanda Gordon, of the Australian Psychological Society, said yesterday there was clear scientific evidence of the harm caused by indefinite detention, which ''exacerbates trauma, and creates mental illness, in contravention of the government's own commitment to reduce it''. Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said yesterday his attack on the mandatory detention policy at the AMA's parliamentary dinner this week had been prompted by ''terrible stories'' being reported by paediatricians and psychiatrists who went inside detention centres. Dr Paul Bauert, director of paediatrics at the Royal Darwin Hospital, said children as young as four and five had been caught up in hunger strikes that their parents were involved in, and were treated at his hospital. ''They weren't eating and required intravenous and gastric drips,'' he said.

August 14, 2011 North Territory News
DETENTION centre staff in Darwin are allegedly afraid to go to work following a melee in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre on Friday morning. Two Burmese detainees have been charged with assault over the incident. A source said Serco staff have cancelled night shifts after one guard was taken to hospital with cuts to the head and 11 other guards were allegedly assaulted. The two detainees will appear in the Darwin Magistrates Court tomorrow. The Australian Federal Police said it was inappropriate to comment because they were still investigating and the Immigration Department declined to comment because of the charges. The incident happened between 1am and 4am. The two men have been held in Australian detention for more than 21 months and are awaiting security clearance. Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network spokesman Carl O'Connor said the detainees rang him after the incident looking to complain to police. One of the men allegedly told DASSAN that two guards "covered us and the rest others twist from leg, twist my hands and push down the floor". "A male supervisor stepped on my stomach and stepped again on my cheek with his knee, while another one strangle from my throat." DASSAN spokeswoman Emma Murphy said the wait in detention centres is causing distress and tension, and is a cause of recent suicide attempts.

August 12, 2011 ABC
The Immigration Department has refused to provide further detail about an incident at Darwin's detention centre that has sent a worker to hospital. The department says a number of other staff working for SERCO - the company that runs the centre - sustained minor injuries in the incident. A department spokesman says Australian Federal Police are investigating, but no further detail is being provided about the nature of the incident or the seriousness of the injuries. The news comes as an asylum seeker alleges brutality inside the detention centre. A detainee says he was bashed by SERCO staff after taking part in a peaceful rooftop protest. The Immigration Department says its been made aware of the allegations but has no reports of injuries to asylum seekers. It will not say whether the two incidents are linked.

February 11, 2011 AAP
ELEVEN asylum-seekers have been charged after a disturbance involving about 40 detainees at one of Darwin's detention centres. The 11 males were taken to the Darwin watchhouse this morning following the latest in a series of incidents at the Darwin Airport Lodge detention centre, which is used to house asylum-seeker families and unaccompanied minors. They were later charged under section 197B of the Migration Act in relation to the possession of a weapon as a detainee and were due to appear in the Darwin Magistrates Court this afternoon. The charges come after authorities revealed that six asylum-seekers had been hospitalised in the past three days as a result of several "scuffles" between detainees at the detention centre. Three of the injured detainees have since been returned to the detention centre. An immigration spokesman confirmed there had been "previous scuffles" between detainees in the days leading up to the incident. Late yesterday afternoon a disturbance at the same centre involving several asylum-seekers led to unrest between other detainees, the spokesman said. The spokesman confirmed about 20 detainees started protest action just outside the perimeter. He said police and staff engaged the group, brought the situation under control quickly and returned the detainees to the facility.

May 16, 2010 Northern Territory News
A CHINESE woman was still on the run last night - two days after she escaped detention from a Darwin motel. The Immigration Department confirmed the woman slipped away from the motel on Thursday morning and is yet to be found. The same firm, Serco, that allowed eight people to flee from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, is being blamed for her escape. A source told the Sunday Territorian that federal police had detained the woman and a Chinese man at Darwin airport after the pair allegedly arrived from a Bali flight with fake passports. The source said the woman had to be rushed to hospital when she panicked and swallowed a ring at the airport. She was allegedly left unattended at the hospital before she was moved to the Darwin motel and put into the care of security guards. The man is still believed to be in detention.

Family Court
Australia

August 26, 2003
The Family Court has freed five young siblings detained for 32 months in immigration centres, saying they had been exposed to violence and other inappropriate behaviour.  The full bench also questioned the Immigration Minister's "curious" 13-month campaign to keep them behind wire.  Supporters greeted the two teenage boys and their three young sisters - who will still be deported to Pakistan - before they were driven out of the Baxter detention centre at Port Augusta.  One of the boys had tried to hang himself while detained - mostly in now-closed Woomera - while the other had joined hunger strikes and stitched his lips together, the court heard.  Three judges found overwhelming grounds for the immediate removal of the children, who cannot be indentified.  This overturned an earlier Family Court ruling and forced the Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock, to abandon a trial next month opposing their release.  "The minister's interest in detaining them in unlawful detention seems somewhat curious," the judges said.  "It seems difficult to see how the minister's legitimate interests could extend beyond ensuring the availability of the children if and when the time comes to have them removed from Australia."  The children spent their first night of freedom together since arriving by boat in Australia with their mother in January, 2001.  Their father arrived 15 months earlier, claiming to have fled the Taliban in Afghanistan, and lived in Sydney from August 2000 on a temporary protection visa.  But in May 2001 the refugee application by the mother and children was refused on the grounds they were from Pakistan, not Afghanistan.  Waiting on appeals, the father was re-detained and the two older boys in particular experienced what the full court described as "violence and other inappropriate behaviour" at Woomera. The two boys also escaped from Woomera but were returned three weeks later.  (Sidney Morning News)

August 14, 2003
A Family Court justice today appealed to Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock to show compassion to an Iranian family held in Australian detention centres for more than two years.  Justice Richard Chisholm ruled he did not have the power to release the parents and three children from detention, despite evidence of them suffering "highly damaging experiences in their time in Australia".  But the minister did have such power, he said.  "The evidence indicates that they have had terrible experiences in detention, and they are now in a serious state of mental ill health and distress," Justice Chisholm said.  "For over two years, a large number of highly qualified medical experts have been urging that they be released into the community, saying their mental health is at risk unless this happens.  "On any view, this is a serious and worrying case."  The parents and children - girls now aged 19 and 15 and a four-year-old boy - have appealed against the rejection of their visa applications which subsequently earmarked them for deportation.  They asked the Family Court to release them on an interim basis into residential housing in Adelaide until their High Court appeal was decided.  "I do not have the power or jurisdiction to make the orders sought by the applicants," Justice Chisholm said.  "Nevertheless, I hope that now that all the evidence is available, the minister might give further consideration to whether some alternative arrangements might be made that would help these unfortunate children.  "The evidence, although untested, strongly suggests that these children have had highly damaging experiences in their time in Australia."  Justice Chisholm said on evidence presented to him, the children would benefit from a release into the community but he did not have the power to do so.  "It is within the minister's legal powers to arrange this," he said.  "I express the hope that he will give careful and compassionate consideration to the urgent needs of this unfortunate family."  The family came to Australian from Iran in December 2000 and was initially held at the Woomera detention centre in South Australia's north.  The father is now held at the Baxter detention centre, also in SA's north, while the mother and children are held at a Woomera home detention program.  (The Age)

June 24, 2003
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said today he would appeal a Family Court of Australia ruling that holding children indefinitely in immigration detention was illegal.  He said applications were filed in the Family Court and High Court yesterday afternoon.  "In the event that the Family Court certificate is not granted then I will pursue the appeal directly in the High Court," Mr Ruddock said.  (The Age)

June 20, 2003
The Family Court has mounted a major challenge to the detention of children under Australian immigration laws and claimed the right to order their release.  Detaining children under such laws is probably illegal, the court ruled yesterday in a decision that could affect 108 children now in custody.  In a blow to the Federal Government's detention practices, the court claimed the right to order the release of children on welfare grounds, saying that its responsibility for their well-being overrode immigration law.  A majority decision of the full Family Court upheld the appeal of two boys and their three sisters against an earlier ruling that the court had no jurisdiction over children in detention. The court ordered that the case of the children - boys aged 14 and 12 and girls 11, nine and six - be retried urgently.  The court found that the continued detention of the five children, whose whose parents are also held under immigration law, "raises the very real possibility of these children spending their entire childhood in detention".  "It seems to us that the Migration Act cannot be interpreted to produce this effect," Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson and Justice Stephen O'Ryan said.  They added that the detention breached Australia's obligations under UN conventions and was probably "unlawful".  A psychological report to the court said the children's experiences in detention "have been superimposed on previous trauma". The children showed "unhappiness and depression and an undermining of their ability to achieve their developmental milestones".  A spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the Government might appeal against the decision.  (The Age)

June 20, 2003
The children of asylum seekers should not be kept behind razor wire, Opposition Leader Simon Crean said today.  Mr Crean was commenting after the Family Court ruled the federal government was acting illegally by indefinitely detaining children in immigration detention centres.  He said although the court's decision was a preliminary one, children of asylum seekers should not be held in camps.  "I just don't believe kids should be behind razor wire," Mr Crean told Perth radio 6PR.  (The Age)

June 19, 2003
Over 100 child asylum seekers could be released from detention after the Family Court ruled today that it is unlawful for the Federal Government to detain children indefinitely.  Chief Justice of the Family Court, Justice Alastair Nicholson, and Justice Stephen O'Ryan made the majority ruling while dealing with an appeal against another judge's decision that the court had no jurisdiction over children being held in immigration detention.  The judges agreed that the court's welfare jurisdiction extended to the protection of children in immigration detention.  (The Age)

Fulham Correctional Centre
Sale, Australia
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Sep 5, 2016 abc.net.au
Indigenous inmate found dead at Fulham Correctional Centre, Corrections Victoria confirms
An Indigenous inmate has been found dead at a prison in Victoria's east. Corrections Victoria has confirmed the man died at the Fulham Correctional Centre on Saturday morning. Victoria Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious. The State Government said it was aware of the death. "The death of any person, regardless of whether they're in prison or in the community, is sad," a spokesman said in a statement. As the matter is being investigated by the coroner, as is standard practice, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Apr 11, 2016 gippslandtimes.com.au
Bid for freedom derails
A BID for freedom by two Fulham Correctional Centre prisoners was short-lived. Chris Lyons, aged 36, and Michael Jarmyn, 31, allegedly escaped from Fulham Correctional Centre on Friday night. They were last seen at the facility about 6.40pm. The men were spotted walking along railway tracks in Traralgon just after 9am Saturday morning. Police were called and chased the men on foot. One alleged escapee was arrested at 9.08am and the other three minutes later. The two men reportedly escaped from the correctional facility by climbing over a fence. The men have been transferred to a Melbourne facility and will face charges. Operator of the facility, GEO Group Australia, may be fined. A spokesperson for GEO Group Australia, the company which operates the prison, refused to comment, saying it was a police matter. Local police and Corrections Victoria are investigating the incident.

Apr 9, 2016 au.news.yahoo.com
GEO loses two inmates
Two Victorian prisoners have escaped from a medium security prison, sparking a police manhunt. The escape of two inmates from a privately run Victoria prison could result in the operator being fined $220,000 or the government ripping up its contract. Police on Saturday recaptured the two prisoners who escaped from Fulham Correctional Centre, which is operated by GEO Group. Chris Lyons, 36, and 31-year-old Michael Jarmyn were last seen at the medium-security prison about 6.30pm on Friday. The alarm of their escape was not raised until about 8.30pm when a prison count fell short. A search of the immediate area failed to find them, and police warned members of the public not to approach them. The fugitives were spotted walking along train tracks in Traralgon about 9am on Saturday and they were arrested after a short police chase on foot. Acting Police Minister Robin Scott has promised a full investigation into what happened. "This is clearly an unacceptable security breach," he told reporters on Saturday. "We're taking this matter very seriously." GEO Group is also conducting its own investigation into what went wrong. Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said, "The private operator will also provide me with a report into this matter and how this occurred." The escape could potentially affect GEO's contract with Corrections Victoria. "There are serious ramifications within the contract for an escape," the commissioner said. That could include a penalty of $110,000 per escapee, as well as the option of a default on contract if GEO failed to remedy any breaches. "If that's what we find - if the prison hasn't done as they should do in terms of maintaining the security of the prison - then there's a range of options open," Ms Shuard said. The escape was the first since the prison opened in 1997, she added. Lyons and Jarmyn were on remand at the centre on charges of burglary, armed robbery, and vehicle offences. It's unclear how they escaped, or if they got help from outside. Prison authorities said they could not reveal those details for security reasons.

Mar 27, 2015 abc.net.au

Colin Johnson, bashed in Fulham Prison, might still be alive if not for staff inaction: Victorian coroner Mr Johnson, 53, was serving a two-year sentence at the prison when he was bashed. A man who died after he was viciously bashed in a Victorian prison four years ago might still be alive if not for the inaction of prison staff and the absence of CCTV cameras, a coroner has found. State coroner Judge Ian Gray was scathing of staff from the company that operated Fulham Prison, GEO Group, saying their behaviour on the night Colin Johnson was bashed was "unacceptable". Judge Gray also criticised the procedures at the prison which led to a six-hour delay before it was discovered that Mr Johnson had suffered severe head injuries. The comments were contained in a part-redacted finding handed down on Friday. Mr Johnson, 53, was serving a two-year sentence at the medium and minimum-security prison when he was bashed with what was believed to have been a wooden rolling pin. A notoriously violent prisoner then housed at Fulham is suspected of carrying out the attack but has never been charged. Tragically, Mr Johnson had been favourably considered for parole but was denied after he returned a positive drug test. Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au Described by his family after his death as a "loving son" who should have been safe in jail, Mr Johnson battled heroin and alcohol addiction since his late teens. He was discovered unconscious in his cell just before midnight on April 23, 2011. He was naked and bent over on his knees, the right side of his face was covered in blood, and he had extensive head injuries. He was taken first to a hospital in Gippsland and then to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where he was placed on life support. He died on May 6 without regaining consciousness. Guards in nearby room did not see attack Mr Johnson was housed in the Yeerung Unit of the prison, which consists of two "pods" separated by the guard room. Each pod comprises a number of cells, a laundry, kitchen and a day room. Judge Gray found that Mr Johnson was assaulted in the pod 1 day room sometime between 5:06pm and 5:49pm. One prisoner gave evidence that he saw Mr Johnson in the day room holding his head while another prisoner was "cleaning up". However, none of this was captured on CCTV cameras because neither of the day rooms had camera coverage. GEO Group gave evidence at the inquest that this was because both rooms were clearly visible from the guard station. It is unclear why the guards on duty at the time did not see the fatal assault. GEO Group said in its submission that the guards were likely to have been collecting their belongings prior to locking the prisoners in for the night, and that three of them had been disciplined after Mr Johnson's death over their actions that day. "It is unacceptable that the correctional officers on duty did not observe the assault on Mr Johnson, the subsequent cleaning up of the area by another prisoner, Mr Johnson walking, injured, back through the common area to the cells, or his injuries at lockdown," Judge Gray said. Coroner recommends CCTV cameras be installed in day rooms After he was bashed, Mr Johnson returned to his cell. At 6:00pm the prisoners were locked down, but procedures at the time did not require Mr Johnson to be "viewed physically, face on", in Judge Gray's words, so his injuries were not noticed. "After considering the evidence, I am satisfied that there was inadequate observation of Mr Johnson at the point of lockdown. This was conceded by GEO Group and changes were subsequently made to the lockdown procedure," Judge Gray said. Although GEO Group argued it was "speculative" to say Mr Johnson might have survived if his injuries had been noticed earlier, Mr Gray found that was the case. "In my view, and on the balance of probabilities, earlier identification of the injury, earlier medical intervention and earlier transportation to hospital would have increased Mr Johnson's prospects of surviving the attack," Judge Gray said. In the findings, Judge Gray acknowledged GEO Group had made changes to procedures in the wake of Mr Johnson's death, including strengthening the lock-up muster procedure, improving patrols in the unit and reminding guards of their supervisory duties when in the guard station. Judge Gray also recommended CCTV cameras be installed in the day rooms of the Yeerung Unit. A spokesperson for the GEO Group said the coroner's finding highlighted that changes had already been implemented by GEO to address problems in the centre's security procedures.

 

October 28, 2013 The Age Victoria

Pressure is mounting on the Napthine government to give the Auditor-General ''follow the dollar'' powers to scrutinise taxpayer-funded services and projects delivered by the private sector. It comes after staff from the Audit Office were unable to visit two private jails for a recent audit into drugs in Victorian prisons because their mandate did not extend to private-sector providers. Opposition corrections spokeswoman Jill Hennessy said the Auditor-General's office did not have the authority to visit Port Phillip Prison and Fulham Correctional Centre to audit drug prevention and detection controls. ''Government is increasingly providing services through the private sector. If the Auditor-General doesn't have these powers, we don't know what rorts might be occurring.'' She said there was no independent scrutiny of projects delivered through public-private partnerships, such as the $500 million Ravenhall Prison. New Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle has put ''follow the dollar'' powers high on his agenda, using his first annual report to call for an urgent overhaul of the Audit Act. ''Activities by third-party providers funded by government to achieve government objectives are currently beyond my mandate. In effect, spending of significant funds, including through public-private partnerships, are not subject to audit scrutiny.'' The Napthine government said it was in talks with the Auditor-General about reforming the Audit Act, which it has labelled a priority for 2013-14. The state financial watchdog has been pushing for ''follow the dollar'' powers for four years, with calls becoming more urgent as the government finances more projects through public-private partnerships and outsources services to the private sector. A 2010 parliamentary inquiry into the Audit Act recommended the watchdog be given ''explicit authority'' to access the systems and records of public-sector contractors and subcontractors who are paid by the government to deliver services. Former auditor Des Pearson warned in his final annual report that his ability to scrutinise taxpayer-funded projects had ''diminished rapidly''. A spokesman for Finance Minister Robert Clark said reforming the act was a priority for 2013-14. ''The government has already made clear … that it supports in principle amending the Audit Act to authorise the Auditor-General to access the systems and records of public sector contractors in appropriate circumstances.'' He said the watchdog had access to extensive public and private data, including random and targeted drug tests, positive result rates, seizure statistics, and prison capacity as part of his latest audit on drugs in prisons. The value of public-private partnerships in Victoria is anticipated to rise from $3 billion in 2012 to $7.9 billion in 2013.


June 19, 2013  bordermail.com.au

Up to eight prison guards have been taken to hospital after a brawl broke out at a prison in the state's south-east on Wednesday morning. One officer aged in his 40s received extensive injuries to his face, head, chest and back and was taken by ambulance to Sale's Gippsland Base Hospital, where he is in a serious but stable condition. Fairfax has been told the incident occurred after two inmates, who are brothers, were told they would not be granted bereavement leave to attend a relative's funeral. The inmates reportedly started to punch several prison officers at about 10.30am. Up to eight other inmates joined the brawl, which lasted about 20 minutes. Another seven security officers were taken to hospital via private vehicles.Victoria Police Senior Constable Adam West said "several" people involved were taken to hospital with minor injuries. No inmates were injured during the violent clash, which resulted in the prison going into lockdown for the rest of the day. Private corrections company GEO Group, which manages the prison, was contacted for comment. Victoria Police and the independent Office of Correctional Services Review have launched investigations into the incident, which is the latest to plague the trouble-prone correctional centre. In January 2012, a 12-hour riot broke out in which inmates armed themselves with makeshift weapons, lit fires and attack officers; seventeen inmates were later charged with various offences including arson and criminal damage but all escapes extra jail time. In May, a 20 year-old inmate was taken to hospital after he suffered stab wounds to his abdomen. James Talia, spokesman for Minister for Corrections Edward O'Donohue, said any report of staff being injured whilst performing their job was concerning. "Any incidents in which prison staff are injured is of deep concern. Prison are an inheritability difficult environment but we respect the work done by our diligent and dedicated staff and will undertake any measures recommended to protect them further," he said. Community and Public Sector Union Victoria blasted the government and operator on Twitter just hours after the incident, saying the prison is "out of control" and that officers are left to "bear brunt".

 

Jun 12, 2013 abc.net.au

The union that represents corrections workers fears more violent attacks could take place at a prison in eastern Victoria unless prison management improves safety practices. Seven guards from Fulham Correctional Centre, near Sale, were admitted to hospital on Wednesday following a brawl involving up to 30 inmates. Last year, 18 prison guards were injured when inmates rioted. Andrew Capp from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says the privately-run prison needs more staff and improved safety procedures. "You don't want bad things to happen but it is a real concern that unless the way in which Fulham is managed does change then there will be more serious incidents," he said. "It's re-awakened the anxieties and concerns that staff had as a result of the riot there last year, and they're also concerned about their own welfare." Corrections Victoria says maintaining a safe working environment at the prison is its number one priority.

December 18 2012 By: AAP International News
A former prisoner is suing a Victorian jail for damages, alleging its staff sexually assaulted him during unlawful strip searches. The man is suing GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, which operates the Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale in eastern Victoria, claiming he suffered gross humiliation, loss of self-esteem and psychological injury as a result of sexual abuse by their staff. In a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, the former prisoner alleges he and other prisoners were subjected to hundreds of unlawful visual cavity searches which constituted sexual assault. The man wants damages for himself and other prisoners, based on the number of searches they were each allegedly subjected to. A spokesman for GEO Group says the company will investigate the claims and cooperate with any police investigation or court hearing.

May 20, 2012 Sunday Herald Sun
A FEMALE prison officer has spoken of a terrifying plan by a gang of violent inmates to abduct, rape and murder her. ..But she claims she continued to work among the evil plotters because bosses refused to take the threat seriously. Rose Forsyth, 32, alleges a note was discovered with detailed plans of how the group of up to nine inmates - most convicted of serious sexual offences - were going to carry out the horrifying abuse and then chillingly kill her. But bosses at Fulham Correctional Centre did not tell Ms Forsyth for three days and even allowed her to work among the alleged gang - at times completely on her own - for at least 14 hours. A unit manager told Ms Forsyth of the threat only when hours into her second shift at the 820-bed prison in West Sale, but was allegedly told GEO Group - a private firm that operates the facility - was "not taking it seriously". Shocked and horrified, she immediately walked off-site and says she will consult the Community and Public Sector Union this week about her legal options. The Sunday Herald Sun can also exclusively reveal that the alleged gang was named by a fellow inmate and when their property was searched, plastic binding similar to baling twine was discovered. "The note was discovered on a Saturday yet I was allowed to work a 12-hour shift on the Monday with those same prisoners without any knowledge of the threat against my safety," said Ms Forsyth, who has worked at the centre for 2 1/2 years. "I then started a shift on Tuesday and still wasn't told for 2 1/2 hours. And then I was informed the prison bosses were 'not taking it seriously'. "I was literally shaking with fear. There was a note saying they were going to tie me up, rape me, then kill me and I wasn't even made aware. They played Russian roulette with my life." Ms Forsyth has since been transferred to another unit within the prison. The gang of up to nine prisoners is housed in the Hotham Unit - a protected wing of the prison commonly used to keep sex offenders safe from fellow inmates. Ms Forsyth said GEO Group claimed it informed police about the threats, but was stunned when she made inquiries and no investigation could be found. Victoria Police confirmed to the Sunday Herald Sun that it was not alerted to the incident from January last year. GEO Group refused to comment on the incident.

May 10, 2012 9 News
An hour-long strike planned by prison guards at Victoria's Fulham Prison has instead lasted just one minute, with officers quickly calling off their industrial action. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said the privately-run prison's management, GEO group, had stymied officers' industrial action by sending only two supervisors to staff Fulham at 2am (AEST) on Thursday. The CPSU said GEO had received seven days' notice of the planned walk-off and chosen to play "Russian roulette with prison safety". The nine night-shift staff met with union delegates at the planned stoppage time, but decided immediately to return to their posts, CPSU spokesman Julian Kennelly said. "Officers were so concerned GEO would put the two supervisors, as well as inmates, potentially in harm's way that we re-entered the prison," he said.

May 9, 2012 The Age
Prison officers at Victoria's Fulham Prison will walk off the job on tonight as part of an enterprise bargaining dispute. The Community and Public Sector Union wants minimum staffing levels at the privately-run jail managed by the GEO group. CPSU spokesman spokesman Julian Kennelly said officers had concerns about their health and safety unless such minimums were recognised. "Fulham officers just want a safe workplace and are dismayed that GEO would put their profits above the well-being of their employees," he said. Fulham general manager Troy Ittensohn said he was "extremely disappointed" that prison staff would escalate the dispute by taking the proposed action. "Management will run the prison for that period to ensure that the prisoners remain safe and the facility secure," he said. Mr Ittensohn said no date had been set by Fairwork Australia for further negotiations with the union. Work bans are already in place at the Gippsland jail near Sale, which houses about 800 inmates. In January, the jail was the site of a riot involving prisoners armed with gym equipment and gardening tools.

April 17, 2012 ABC
The operator of the Fulham Prison near Sale, in the state's east, denies it is looking for strikebreakers, as an industrial dispute escalates. All inmates were locked in their cells yesterday afternoon, after prison officers stepped-up their industrial campaign. Officers are campaigning for a pay rise and an increase in minimum staffing levels and began protected industrial action last week. They say the riot at the prison in January exposed staffing shortfalls. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says its members were stood down yesterday. It has accused prison management of looking for strikebreakers from interstate prisons. Union spokeswoman Karen Batt has called on GEO to come to the negotiating table. "They have chosen to stand then down a la Qantas, rather than negotiating," she said. "We call on them to back off from this approach and not call in strike breakers but to negotiate with their staff in the interests of that prison." GEO Group staff have denied the officers have been locked out. It says workers are being brought in from other prisons to maintain security while the extent of the union bans is finalised, but denies they are strike breakers.

April 13, 2012 ABC
Workers at the Fulham prison near Sale are planning to begin industrial action today. They are campaigning for a wage rise and higher staffing levels in the wake of January's riot at the prison. There will be a stop work meeting and workers will then impose a series of work bans. They will refuse to carry out inmate urine testing or provide statistics and will lock prisoners in their cells if unit staffing falls below certain levels. Andy Capp from the Community and Public Sector Union says January's riot exposed flaws in the way the prison is managed. "There's absolutely no doubt that serious incidents do happen in prisons, absolutely no doubt about that at all," he said. "But in saying that and acknowledging that, a prison needs to be adequately staffed to deal with those serious incidents. "And we don't believe that the prison was properly staffed to deal with the 18th of January riot." The GEO Group that manages the prison says the union's demands are "totally unrealistic." It says the work bans will mean there will be long periods in coming days when the inmates are locked in their cells.

April 1, 2012 The Age
THOUSANDS of mental health workers will strike at major hospitals this month in pursuit of better pay, warning Ted Baillieu they are struggling to cope with the daily influx of patients. And in the private sector, officers at one of the state's non-government prisons, where inmates rioted this year, are threatening to strike over pay and staff numbers, which could result in prisoners being locked in their cells for lengthy periods. In the latest industrial headache for the government, mental health nurses and clinicians - including psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers - will begin twice-daily rolling stoppages after Easter. This follows bans on non-clinical duties - such as bed making, filing or data collection - which were imposed last December as the stoush escalated. Advertisement: Story continues below But Health and Community Services Union state secretary Lloyd Williams said that after six months of negotiations, including more than two dozen meetings with the government, they were no closer to a settlement. The union has asked for an 18 per cent pay rise - 6 per cent annually over three years - in contrast to the government's public sector policy of 2.5 per cent a year, with anything above that to be matched by productivity offsets. Mr Williams warned that without better conditions, hospitals would struggle to keep skilled clinicians or attract new staff, leading to a workforce crisis in mental health. ''They [the government] know that staffing issues in our acute units are a problem - the chief psychiatrist has told them that,'' he said. Department figures suggest that demand for clinical mental health services in Victoria is growing at a rate of 8 per cent to 10 per cent a year. A spokeswoman for Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said the negotiations were ''proceeding consistent with the government's wages policy''. Teachers, paramedics, public sector workers, firefighters, park rangers and a range of other unions are also preparing for drawn out industrial battles as they negotiate new wage deals. Staff are threatening 24-hour strikes and other work bans at Fulham prison, near Sale, where in January prisoners armed themselves with makeshift weapons and lit fires. Fulham, a medium to minimum security prison, also has the second highest level of ''contraband'' seized from prisoners, according to data provided to the state opposition. Among the items retrieved during a four-month period last year were 15 weapons, alcohol, tattooing equipment and a range of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The jail also has the state's highest prisoner-to-staff ratio, separate figures show. The Baillieu government could be set to expand the state's private prison network, following the announcement of 392 additional beds across the state. Former prison chaplain and RMIT adjunct professor Peter Norden said private operators were trying to boost profits by spending less on staff and services. He said staff expenses made up as much as 90 per cent of operating costs in prisons. ''Private prisons accentuate the difficulties because they're interested in making profit,'' he said. ''They're more interested in doing well than doing good.'' Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Karen Batt said officers were currently voting on the course of their industrial action. She said the union was pushing private operator GEO Group to introduce minimum prisoner-to-staff ratios. ''At one point before the riot there [were] four prison officers for about 400 prisoners,'' she said. A GEO spokesman rejected claims of under-staffing and said it was ''meeting its contractual requirements with Corrections Victoria''.

February 20, 2012 ABC
The company that operates the Fulham Prison near Sale, in eastern Victoria, has hit back at claims the prison is understaffed. The State Opposition says Fulham Prison has the lowest staff-to-inmate ratio in Victoria. The prison workers' union says understaffing contributed to last month's riot at the Fulham Prison. But the managing director of the GEO group that runs the prison, Pieter Bezuidenhout, disagrees. "Whether there were a thousand staff on site or a hundred staff on site, [staffing] is not the issue," he said. "Bad things happen in the best prisons around the world. It's the nature of the industry."

January 29, 2012 Sunday Herald Sun
TRAUMATISED prison guards who were almost burned alive during the Fulham riots have been ordered by doctors to not return to work more than 10 days after the siege. Eighteen guards were injured during the 11-hour siege at Fulham Correctional Centre in Sale on January 17, says prison operator GEO Group. One was beaten over the head with a piece of wood and four staff have not returned to the prison on medical advice, including officers trapped in a room set on fire by rioters. In the early hours of the siege, a group of 100 inmates armed with pitchforks, metal bars and wooden stakes trapped two female and two male guards in an office that overlooked the main courtyard. Unable to get into the room, the mob overturned a prison-owned buggy in front of the window and set the petrol tank on fire in a bid to force the officers out. Thick smoke filled the room and the guards lay on the ground covering their faces from the flames that reached the ceiling, Community and Public Sector Union Victoria industrial officer Andrew Capp said. "It was out of control and pure luck they survived," he told the Sunday Herald Sun. Other staff tried to reach the trapped officers, but were forced back by the prisoners brandishing rocks and parts of furniture. Using a phone in the room, the trapped guards asked the control room to have a nearby door unlocked so they could flee. One woman was treated for severe smoke inhalation. Mr Capp said all the guards reported they believed they would die in the room. GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis confirmed four guards had not yet returned to work and repairs would cost up to $50,000, with two rooms remaining closed.

January 20, 2012 The Australian
THE Victorian Corrections Commissioner has been accused of "spin" after blaming a prison riot on inmates angry at losing their pay TV and being forced to use soft toothbrushes that cannot be turned into weapons. Corrections chief Bob Hastings yesterday said the riot at Fulham Prison on Wednesday night was caused by young men "who decided that they would be disruptive and destructive" amid changes to their living standards. "Some time ago we made a decision to introduce what's called a flexible toothbrush," he said. "This is really a safety issue because unfortunately some of the prisoners with the conventional toothbrushes used those to become weapons. There's also been some issue where they have had a contract with pay TV which is coming to an end." Former prison chaplain and RMIT adjunct professor Peter Norden said the commissioner's response was "government spin" to distract the community from the issue of overcrowded and under-resourced prisons. ..."This is an absolute distraction, put out to tell people not to even worry about it," he said. "The community needs to ask bigger questions, beyond the bad behaviour of prisoners." The riot at Fulham, near Sale, 215km east of Melbourne, broke out on Wednesday afternoon when prisoners set fire to waste bins and about 30 of them ran to the roof of the facility armed with makeshift weapons. A remaining group of 11 inmates was forced from the roof with tear gas early yesterday. Prisoners involved in the riot have been transferred to Barwon and Port Philip prisons and may face criminal charges. Fulham is privately run for the Victorian government by GEO Group.

January 18, 2012 The Herald Sun
UPDATE 8.30pm: PRISONERS - some armed - have scaled fences amid a full-scale riot at a major Victorian jail. About 11 inmates are on a roof and in a recreation area of the Fulham Correctional Centre, near Sale. The prisoners, believed to be younger members of the jail population, appear to be wielding iron bars, a pick, a cricket bat, a bin lid and gardening equipment. Officers are using capsicum spray in a bid to control the situation. Police wearing riot gear are patrolling the perimeter, and the dog squad has also arrived at the prison. Inmates are reportedly protesting over new conditions at the jail. Picture: Darren Tindale Just after 5.30pm, about a dozen other prisoners were spotted by authorities scaling the southeast corner fence. Prisoners have seriously damaged one of the control rooms, ripping out electrical wires. The room also stores tear gas. CFA crews were called to the scene after unconfirmed reports of at least two fires at the prison, which has been locked down. Prison authorities were being held at bay as the prisoners brandished bar bells and other gym equipment on the northwest side of the prison. Officers from Ambulance Victoria and the CFA are on hand. Paramedics have not yet been allowed into the jail, which was in September voted the state's best employer. There are no reports of serious injuries. Up to 50 prisoners were on an oval at the jail, near Sale, when they were asked to go back inside. It was then that the inmates took a stand. A Corrections Victoria spokesman said the riot started after several inmates refused orders. "A group of prisoners failed to comply with officers' directions to return to their cells,'' he said. It is believed the prisoners revolted over new conditions at the correctional facility, which can accommodate 845 prisoners. A concerned partner of a prisoner inside the jail said a group of prisoners took over the main block of the prison. "There’s been a lot of stuff happening there and the prisoners are sick of it," she said. "It’s really dangerous and disconcerting for those waiting for people to come home." Last year, a prisoner due for release from the prison died after being beaten with what was believed to be a rolling pin.

May 16, 2011 The Age
Homicide detectives will interview an inmate at Barwon Prison over the fatal bashing of a prisoner at the Fulham Correctional Centre. A 53-year-old prisoner from the Sale jail died today after life support was turned off the The Alfred hospital last week. He had been in a coma since he was attacked and severely beaten, posssibly with a blunt instrument, at the jail on April 23. Reports today suggested the weapon may have been a rolling pin. The latest prison bashing death follows the killing of underworld figure and Barwon inmate Carl Williams last year and raises further questions about security within the state's correctional facilities. The man being questioned over the latest death has been transferred to Barwon Prison on the outskirts of Geelong. Local police had earlier co-ordinated a search through rubbish at the Kilmany tip for evidence relating to the attack at the privately run correction centre. Fulham Correctional Centre is a 777 bed medium to minimum-security facility near Sale in eastern Victoria. Prisoners prepare and cook their own meals and have access to kitchen equipment. They also manage their own household budget at the jail, which is Victoria's second private prison and the first privately operated men's prison. A report on the death will be prepared for the state coroner. A spokeswoman for the correctional facility said "at this point we are not at liberty to comment". A spokesman for Victoria Police confirmed detectives were investigating.

May 10, 2011 ABC
Police searched a tip near Sale on the weekend as part of their investigation into a vicious assault at the Fulham Prison. An inmate aged in his 50s is still in a coma in hospital after being attacked at the prison on April 23. Local detectives say they received information that important evidence could have been disposed of through the prison's rubbish system and dumped at the Kilmany Tip. Police officers and State Emergency Service crews searched the tip on Saturday but did not find what they were looking for. Detectives have not been able to speak to the victim and are waiting to question him when he comes out of his coma. No-one has been arrested or charged over the assault.

December 28, 2010 The Age
FULHAM Prison at West Sale was in lockdown last night after an inmate was stabbed in the neck. Corrections Victoria spokesman Nick Higginbottom said prisoners were being kept in their cells and would not be allowed to go to the dining room or the exercise yard until the prison had the situation under control. ''It is a huge concern when these things happen.'' He said the man's injuries were not life-threatening.

September 11, 2008 The Age
COMPLAINTS about Victoria's private prisons have risen up to fourfold in the past two years, fuelling concerns by a public sector watchdog about the state's growing reliance on business to provide government services. State Ombudsman George Brouwer yesterday tabled his 2007-08 annual report, vowing to shine a light on the more murky aspects of public-private partnerships and outsourcing and noting the "high risk" that comes with the blurring of the private and public sectors. In the report, Mr Brouwer highlights a "growing interdependency" between government and business, which brings "a high potential for conflict situations and confusion about the ethical standards required". While issues of conflicts of interest, poor customer service and failure to fulfil legal requirements remain his core work, the Ombudsman says public-private contracts and public sector compliance with the new human rights charter are two new areas of focus. The 2008 report also shows: ■Overall complaints were up 13% to 16,344 on the previous year. ■Complaints about freedom of information rose by 16%. ■Whistleblower disclosures more than doubled. ■The largest single source (29%) of complaints related to the Justice Department. ■Local government made up 23% of complaints and the Department of Human Services 19%. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor said his office was concerned that private sector involvement in services traditionally supplied by government may lead to the erosion of citizens' rights. He pointed to private prisons, noting 400% and 100% increases in complaints respectively about Port Phillip prison (rising to 443) and Fulham prison (129) since the 2006 annual report. While rising complaint figures are partly explained by the installation of phones for inmates, Mr Taylor described the increases as "disproportionately high". The emphasis on private contracting is a wake-up call for a state increasingly reliant on PPPs for services ranging from jails to water and now schools. Mr Taylor said the Ombudsman's office would make a point of scrutinising deals with business. "Every time there is a major contract or outsourcing of what traditionally has been a government function we have an interest; we want to make sure that the normal rights of a citizen to complain are retained and that the Government doesn't legislate away the right of an individual to complain to the Ombudsman." Individual agencies with the most complaints were VicRoads and Port Phillip Prison. ■The Government is expected to table legislation tomorrow to toughen rules and guidelines for councillors, including clarifying confusing laws on conflicts of interest.

July 10, 2008 The Age
Prisoners sparked a fire during a "disturbance'' at a private jail in south-east Victoria last night. It is understood the fire at the Fulham Correctional Centre in West Sale was started when disgruntled inmates threw a mattress over a fridge and set it alight. A Corrections Victoria spokeswoman confirmed the incident at the Fulham Correctional Centre in West Sale. Nobody was injured in the incident. "We can confirm there was a disturbance involving a number of prisoners and we can confirm a fire was set alight,'' the spokeswoman said. "The staff moved quickly to contain the incident and put out the fire.'' Fulham is a private prison housing up to 785 minimum and medium security prisoners. It is owned by GEO Group Australia.

September 16, 2007 Sunday Herald
INMATES of Fulham Correctional Centre, near Sale, are receiving personal gym training and specialised diet advice while in jail. Inmates of Fulham Correctional Centre are bulking up in a state-of-the-art gym with guidance from two sport and recreation officers. Prison sources said the officers were effectively personal trainers, giving inmates a service that would cost a member of the public up to $8000 a year. The prison has a record of providing perks for inmates and used to employ a karate sensei to teach martial arts skills. Prison sources said the $200,000 program saw officers set up training regimes for prisoners and devise diets to help them achieve maximum bulk. The source said inmates had access to a spacious cutting-edge gym which is unusual in jails. "The gym is well equipped with a section for free weights and weight training," the source said. "You see all these crooks getting absolutely everything and they get it all for nothing." The trainers are employed by the GEO Group Australia, which receives taxpayers' money to run the prison. People Against Lenient Sentencing president Steve Medcraft slammed the jail's personal trainers. "Rehabilitation has taken on a new meaning. Life's better inside than outside," he said. Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said: "On the outside world you pay a small fortune to have these sessions," he said. "To have them free for people who are supposed to be paying their debt to society is an insult to victims of crime." A Fulham Correctional Centre spokesman said: "Keeping inmates healthy means they have fewer medical problems and are a lower cost to taxpayers."

December 22, 2005 The Age
THE murder of a prisoner was "a travesty" that happened at a time of inadequate supervision and searches at the Fulham Correctional Centre, a coroner has found. Paul Anthony Shaw, 30, was stabbed to death on November 11, 1999, in the protection unit at Fulham with a home-made knife known as a "shiv". Coroner Phillip Byrne found this week that two other prisoners, Benjamin Kyriacou and Jason Los, were implicated in Shaw's death. Both have already been tried and acquitted of Shaw's murder. He ruled that there had been a failure of staff to appreciate impending trouble in the unit, due to an inadequate level of supervision, surveillance and monitoring. He said the prison's private operators, Australasian Correctional Management, had inadequately audited implements such as the broom from which the "shiv" had been made. "Incarceration obviously represents a loss of liberty. It is a travesty when it results in a prisoner losing his life," Mr Byrne said.

September 27, 2005 ABC
Unions and management at Fulham Prison near Sale, in south-east Victoria, are still negotiating to end a dispute over pay and leave which has lead to work bans. Prison guards are refusing to process new prisoners, escort inmates to court, or conduct urine tests. They are also refusing to lock or unlock prison cells unless a supervisor is present. The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) has deemed the work bans lawful and has ordered both parties into conciliation. John Crane from the Community and Public Sector Union says the 12 per cent pay offer for guards is inadequate. "There are two private prisons in Victoria - the other private prison gets seven weeks leave per year," he said. "The workers at Fulham certainly don't get that, so we're hoping to at least bridge the gap with regard to leave. "If we can't do it with leave, we'd like to address other components which would address workers' concerns."

September 26, 2005 The Australian
THE Australian Industrial Relations Commission will today decide if prison guards at a privately-owned Victorian jail can continue work bans imposed in support of an enterprise bargaining claim. The prison is operated by the GEO Group Australia at Sale, 200 km east of Melbourne. The prison workers, members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), have been pushing for better wages and conditions in enterprise bargaining negotiations since March, union organiser John Crane said. Their log of claims before the AIRC includes a call for seven weeks of annual leave, up from five weeks, to match warders at other private jails in Victoria, he said. Work bans have been in place for some time but were escalated on Thursday last week to include bans on overtime, paperwork and higher duties. Mr Crane said the company moved to terminate the bargaining period when the new bans were introduced. The AIRC will rule on that issue today, he said.

September 12, 2005 ABC Gippsland
Prison guards at the Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale have stepped up industrial action after failed negotiations last week. The US company running Fulham, GEO, has offered guards the 12 per cent pay rise they want, but will not pay them two weeks extra annual leave. Stage two work bans are now in force that include bans on prison programs and some escorts and urine sample collections. "I'm not really sure what the public sector is paying and getting, we do have an annualised salary for our staff, it's been negotiated with staff and finalised through the CPSU [Community and Public Sector Union] over two previous EBA [enterprise bargaining agreement] processes and negotiations so we'd like to look at Fulham as a stand-alone business in a sense, we don't really compare ourselves with the public sector," he said. The CPSU has taken a swipe at the State Government for letting private companies run correctional facilities. The union's John Crane says guards get paid up to 40 per cent less than those in the public system. Mr Crane also says the Government has not honoured the promise of its last Corrections Minister. "Andre Haermeyer, stood out the front of the Fulham Correctional Centre and made a promise that the Labor Government would no longer continue to support private prisons, and made a commitment that prisons are the responsibility, for their operation, within government - now the Government have sat on their hands," he said.

May 5, 2005 Herald Sun
VICTORIA Police are hunting an escapee from a private prison in eastern Victoria. Saim Yalniz, 44, was last seen at the privately run Fulham Corrections Centre, west of Sale, between 6pm (AEST) and 9.10pm yesterday, police said. He was discovered missing by prison officers when he failed to attend the 9pm muster at the prison.

May 27, 2003
The operation of the Fulham prison in Sale will be investigated following allegations of mismanagement levelled against its private operator, Australasian Correctional Management.  State Corrections Minister Andre Haermeyer has asked the Justice Department for probity checks on the Fulham Correctional Centre. The move follows allegations raised last week about ACM's management of the now-closed Woomera asylum-seeker detention centre in South Australia.  Federal Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has instructed his department to investigate allegations made by former Woomera staff that ACM defrauded the Government of millions of dollars by misrepresenting staff levels and health and education programs provided to detainees. ACM has denied the charges.  (The Age)

May 15, 2001
Victorian prison managers have rejected claims that inmates are being subjected to illegal daily body searches.  The claims were made by prisoners at the privately run Port Philip and Fulham jails.  John Myers, the general manager of Australasian Correctional Management, which also runs the Fulham prison at Sale, says the allegation about cavity searches is wrong.  "Searching is an important aspect of any prison operation."  (ABC News)

Group 4 Securicor (formerly Global Solutions)
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011
Duty of Care: Expose by Clare Sambrook on G4S and the death of Aboriginal elder Mr. Ward. June 8, 2011

May 10, 2014 greenleft.org.au

Iranian asylum seeker and aspiring architect Reza Berati was beaten to death inside the Manus Island detention camp more than two months ago, during what former employees of the detention centre described as “inevitable bloodshed”. Now, the five witnesses who say they can identify those who allegedly kicked, punched and beat the 23-year-old until he succumbed to massive head injuries, have been receiving death threats from local security guards. Their lawyers have filed urgent requests to the High Court to have the witnesses placed in protective custody in Australia, saying they are “gravely concerned” about the men's safety. But the refugees remain in the Manus camp and are afraid to speak to PNG police. All five were seriously injured during the violence as well. One was shot in the buttock while running away and beaten again. Another was held down and slashed across the throat. Yet this has not been the first challenge PNG police have encountered while investigating the alleged murder. Lawyer Ruth Hudson said previous attempts by police to get access to the witnesses have been “routinely thwarted” by staff. G4S guards, both Australians and locals, have refused to cooperate with local investigations. Two Australians also emerged as suspects in the death, but have since returned to Australia. Requests to have them extradited to PNG have been ignored. The Australian Federal Police have been speaking to the guards, but have also neglected to cooperate with the local investigations. Of the five official inquiries into conditions in the Manus Island camp and the human rights of the asylum seekers, two that were being headed up by Justice David Cannings were stonewalled in PNG's domestic courts — with Australian backing. Jay Williams, the barrister who obtained the original affidavits detailing the brutal assault on Berati, was forcibly deported from Manus Island in March. But more allegations keep coming. The Australian Senate inquiry into the violence has received a submission from whistleblower Liz Thompson, who was working as a migration agent for the immigration department when the violence occurred. The submission included more witness accounts that said Berati and others were beaten with a baseball bat, and named a Salvation Army worker, “Joshua”, as its carrier. A postmortem assessment of Berati's body in February suggested he had suffered injuries caused by “a heavy [piece of] timber or wood or some such object”. Thompson wrote in the submission that the violence was ultimately the design of the Australian government: “It is my belief that DIBP [Department of Immigration and Border Protection] manufactured an atmosphere of extreme hostility, suspicion and tension through its actions in the weeks leading up to February 16th and displayed utter disregard for the welfare of injured and traumatised asylum seekers and frontline staff such as interpreters in the immediate aftermath.” Asylum seekers said in a petition to Prime Minister Tony Abbott that they have been “under military attack that caused us to lose one of our friends forever after more than seven months of suffering from continuous pressure and humiliation in this prison”. The petition requests that they be sent to Indonesia. The lawyers of the five murder witnesses have also submitted a separate habeas corpus writ on behalf of more than 350 detainees on Manus Island that alleges human rights violations and international crimes against humanity by the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments, and immigration minister Scott Morrison. Former employees of the Manus detention camp told ABC's Four Corners they knew a violent outbreak was inevitable. Steve Kilburn said: “I'd say that within a week of arriving on Manus Island I formed the opinion … that there is only one possible outcome here, and that is bloodshed … “We couldn't guarantee the safety of those people, and we still can't.” Another witness told the program: “The reality is that if somebody from outside wants to come in and do harm to those people, there's not a lot we can do to stop it, especially if they're armed, or en masse.” Four Corners reporter Geoff Thompson said there were three “pressure points” in the centre: the different ethnicities of asylum seekers forced to live in cramped, stressful conditions; the presence of PNG locals living near the fences of the centre; and the uncertainty faced by the asylum seekers. Indeed, the peaceful protests within the centre's compound began after a meeting revealed to asylum seekers that PNG had no plan to resettle them as refugees. They faced repatriation to their home countries, or a life sentence in detention. If charges are ever laid against anyone for the terrifying bloodshed that took place in the Australian-run detention centre, it will be in spite of Australia's apparent wish to sweep it under the rug. Morrison's admission to Four Corners that, despite his “aspiration”, the Australian government cannot actually ensure the safety of asylum seekers sent to the offshore detention centres shows that even the violent murder of someone who only asked for a safer and better life is no impetus to reverse this appalling regime. In fact, the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres are being expanded as six onshore detention centres are being closed. The expected closures of the Northern immigration detention centre, the Darwin Airport Lodge, Inverbrackie in South Australia, Curtin detention centre in Western Australia and two sites on Christmas Island would apparently save $280 million. Small change compared with the more than $1 billion contract Transfield holds to run the offshore nightmare camps.


Mar 9, 2014 wsws.org

Further testimony emerged this week from witnesses of the brutal violence inflicted on refugees detained in an Australian-run camp on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island on the night of February 17–18. One refugee, 23-year-old Iranian Kurd Reza Berati, was killed, and several others were seriously wounded in the attack. An employee of G4S, the British-based security company contracted by the Australian government to run the Manus camp, spoke anonymously with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and said he was “badly traumatised after witnessing a frenzy of out of control violence.” He explained that during the refugee protests, senior G4S personnel decided to call in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) mobile squad, an Australian-funded paramilitary unit that is notorious for its violence and criminal activities. The G4S whistleblower told the ABC that he heard a discussion between G4S managers, with one asking about handing over responsibility to the PNG police, “Are you sure? Do you know the consequences of that?” The reply was: “Yes, hand it over.” This account underscores the responsibility of Australian authorities for the violent rampage that followed. The obvious question is: who in Canberra was involved in this decision? As Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has openly acknowledged, his department knew that tensions were escalating in the camp, fuelled by the terrible conditions endured by the 1,300 detainees and continued uncertainty about resettlement. Australian authorities and the G4S were also aware that hostility toward refugees had been whipped up among sections of the local population. On Tuesday, the SBS network’s “Dateline” program broadcast an interview with a Salvation Army worker in the camp who said that late last year local residents attempted to storm the camp with machetes. In his ABC interview, the G4S employee detailed what happened last month. The PNG paramilitary forces fired a burst of warning shots, before standing back as armed local residents, G4S security guards and other camp contractors went in and attacked the refugees. “We saw them going in with machetes,” he explained. “They had anything they could pick up: rocks, sticks, the poles from the exercise weights. Once they knocked people to the ground, they were stomping on their heads with their boots. A day later you could still see guards and staff and cleaners walking around with blood on their boots.” The G4S staffer confirmed previous reports from asylum seekers that their assailants went through the centre, smashing down doors and attacking everyone they could find. He explained that PNG police joined in the violence: “The police went from room to room as well and held guns to people’s heads and said, ‘If you don’t give me your cigarettes, we’re going to shoot you’.” Numerous reports from those in contact with asylum seekers have described the detainees’ fear of being attacked again. A Fairfax Media article this week cited a “well-placed source employed at the Manus Island detention centre” who said Reza Berati had been killed by a local employed by the Salvation Army, which has a $75 million contract with the Australian government to work at the camps on Manus and Nauru. “Everyone knows who attacked him and is surprised no one has been taken into custody,” the source said. Several refugees in the camp reported that Berati was in the computer room when the violence began, then sought refuge in his room before being attacked. He died, Fairfax Media reported, “after repeated blows to the head, most likely by a piece of timber, a PNG autopsy found last week.” Media reports indicate that the cleaning staff quickly scrubbed the camp clean, mopping up blood, including in the area where Berati was killed, compromising any investigation. Berati’s family held his funeral in Tehran late last month, with 1,500 people from the Kurdish community attending. The young man’s cousin angrily told reporters that Iraq’s former president, Saddam Hussein, did not treat Iranian prisoners of war as badly as the Australian government treated refugees from the country. Immigration Minister Morrison initially lied about the incident, declaring that no violence took place within the camp and blaming refugees for escaping. Amid overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Morrison was forced to retract. Manus camp staff, speaking anonymously, described seeing bullet casings and bullet holes in centre walls. Photos taken inside the Manus camp and published on a Facebook page appear to confirm these accounts, showing lockers, walls, and doors with bullet holes. Other photographs showed refugees, who held up their identity cards for the camera, with what appeared to be knife or machete wounds to their heads and necks, and also bad bruises and cuts to their eyes and noses. Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Morrison are proceeding with an abject whitewash. The terms of the official inquiry are almost entirely focused on strengthening “security” and “intelligence” measures in the camp to suppress any more protests. Robert Cornall, who is conducting the inquiry, was tasked by the previous Labor government to conduct an “independent” review into revelations last year by former Manus Island camp manager, turned whistleblower, Rod St George. St George said immigration department officials knew that refugees were being raped in the detention centre, treated, and then returned to the single male compound where they were raped again. Cornall’s review flatly denied this happened, and endorsed the management of the Manus camp. The Abbott government is also supporting the investigations being carried out by PNG authorities. These will no doubt produce blatant cover-ups. Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, a long-time lackey of the Australian government, has publicly denied that Manus Island residents were involved in any violence, and also made the ludicrous accusation that the detained refugees had firearms. The Labor Party and the Greens have initiated a Senate inquiry into the Manus Island violence. The two parties bear direct responsibility for what happened, with the Manus camp reopened as part of the revival of the “Pacific Solution” by the previous Greens-backed Labor government. No one should have any confidence in the Senate investigation, which will begin next month. In the aftermath of the SIEV X disaster in which 353 refugees drowned at sea in 2001, the Labor Party initiated a parliamentary investigation. Once evidence emerged that Australian officials knowingly allowed the drownings, Labor lined up with the Howard government and shut down the investigation, preventing senior military and other officials from testifying under oath. The Manus Island killing, like the SIEV X disaster, is a product of the reactionary “border protection” regime that the entire Australian political establishment defends. In denying refugees their basic democratic and legal right to seek asylum in the country, the ruling elite has deliberately ratcheted up the violence and misery inflicted on detained asylum seekers, as a “deterrent” to others thinking about fleeing to Australia.

Dec. 19, 2012 Daily Advertiser
The contractor running Australia’s mainland immigration detention centres has lost a bid for an injunction stopping an ex-employee working for a rival on Manus Island. Christopher Manning left Serco Australia in May 2012 as their managing director of immigration detention centres. He was hired by G4S in September, shortly before the company secured the contract to run the Manus Island centre in Papua New Guinea. Mr Manning was tasked with managing the project, and helped G4S in its bid for the job. But Serco took legal action against him in the ACT Supreme Court, arguing he breached a contract banning him from working for a rival in Australia for a year. Mr Manning’s legal team argued their client honoured the terms of the agreement. In October the contractor sought an interim injunction banning Mr Manning from working for G4S until the court case was resolved. Lawyers for Serco told Master David Harper their former employee had detailed knowledge of confidential information and a tight relationship with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They argued his work with Serco's rivals had the capacity to damage its commercial operations and relationship with the department. But Master Harper on Wednesday said the Supreme Court had since offered an expedited hearing date, and granting the injunction would case “immediate negative effect” to G4S. The master said while the rival contractor wasn’t a party to the case there was an “irresistible inference” they were legally backing him. “Nevertheless, there is no basis for a conclusion that G4S has enticed the defendant away from the plaintiff, or that G4S has any intention of utilising the defendant’s services to enhance its relationship with the [government or DIAC],” he said. “There is no basis for a finding which goes any further than that G4S sees the plaintiff [Mr Manning] as the best available candidate to manage the Manus Island operation.” He refused the injunction, and ordered Serco to pay Mr Manning’s legal costs for the application. The decision comes after the first groups of asylum seekers arrived at the Papua New Guinean facility integral to Australia’s off-shore processing policy.

July 6, 2011 WA Today
The family of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, who died in custody, is calling for any court fines due to be issued today against those responsible for the death to be invested in a community Environmental Science Centre. Warburton man Mr Ward, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons, died from heat stroke in the back of a prison van, with no working cooling system, after being driven 360 kilometres from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in 42-degree heat in 2008. State Coroner Alastair Hope conducted an inquest into the death in 2009, concluding the department, private prison security firm G4S and the two drivers had contributed to Mr Ward's death. The state government and G4S have since pleaded guilty to failing to prevent the death of Mr Ward, after charges were sought by WorkSafe WA earlier this year. Both parties are due to be sentenced in the Kalgoorlie Magistrate's Court today and are expected to face heavy fines of up to $400,000 each. In anticipation of the decision, Ward family spokesperson Daisy Ward has written to Attorney-General Christian Porter asking for the fines to be reinvested in the development of a beneficial science centre in the remote community of Patjarr in the Gibson Desert rather than being put back into government revenue. Ms Ward wrote: "I believe that when the magistrate brings down his sentence, the penalty put on your government will come from consolidated revenue and then be paid back into consolidated revenue. "This is both hurtful and painful to us. This pain does not go away from us. Where is the penalty? ... Any penalty that the company, G4S, has to pay will also go back to your government. "... If the government is getting the money, could you think about giving us the penalty monies because then it really is a penalty." An environmental science centre would reflect the work carried out by Mr Ward to educate environmental science students about indigenous land management, according to his family. "We believe that this will give our families and communities some justice for what happened, and will act as a living legacy of his work," Ms Ward said. "If the fines imposed are paid to the government, this will not bring any justice for what happened to my cousin."

July 5, 2011 The Advertiser
A PRIVATE security firm responsible for prisoner transport has been fined $50,000. This comes after a review into the March escape from custody of Drew Claude Griffiths. The review found private security firm G4S had failed to secure a controlled entry point and van door on March 22 in the prisoner hold area of the Parole Board's Adelaide premises, allowing Griffiths to escape. He was recaptured on March 25 by STAR Group officers. Correctional Services Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the fine sent a strong message to G4S. "This is a message for G4S that any escape is unacceptable," Mr Koutsantonis said. "I am getting sick and tired of prisoners escaping secure custody."

January 18, 2011 The Age
THE wife of an Aboriginal elder who died of heatstroke in the back of a prison van says she is ''happy and relieved'' that Western Australia's work safety watchdog will lay charges over his death. WorkSafe WA has laid four charges under the Occupational Safety and Health Act against the state government, the transport company and the two staff involved. Mr Ward, 46, who cannot be fully named for cultural reasons, died of heatstroke in the prison van in January 2008. He was being transported from Laverton to Kalgoorlie on a drink-driving charge. WorkSafe charged the Department of Corrective Services with failing to ensure non-employees were not exposed to hazards. Transport contractor G4S was charged with failing to ensure the safety and health of a non-employee for the transportation of people in custody. Drivers Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell were charged with failing to take reasonable care to avoid affecting the safety or health of the person in custody. Mr Ward's wife said the charges had been ''a long time coming''.

July 29, 2010 WA Today
The family of an Aboriginal elder who roasted to death in searing heat in the back of a prison van will receive a $3.2 million compensation payment from the WA government, one of the largest such payouts in Australian history. It is an ex-gratia settlement by the government to the family of Mr Ward, whose full name cannot be used for cultural reasons, and includes a $200,000 interim payment already awarded. Attorney-General Christian Porter today revealed $1.4 million of the money would go to Mr Ward's widow, Nancy Donegan, with amounts of $400,000 to be placed in trust accounts for each of her four children. Mr Ward, 46, of Warburton, died in January 2008 while being transported 360 kilometres from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face a drink-driving charge. Temperatures in the van, operated by private security company G4S, reached more than 50 degrees after it was revealed the air-conditioning in the van was broken. The compensation - which Mr Porter said was one of the largest ex-gratia payments by a government in Australian history, as well as that of common law countries - came after negotiations with the family's lawyers, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and on receipt of legal advice detailing what action could be brought against the state, and what that case might look like. It represented an "unequivocal apology" by the government. "It's meant to show contrition... deep, deep, remorse for what has occurred," Mr Porter said. It also took into account the fact that no criminal charges would be laid. While it did not come with an admission of liability, Ms Donegan could still take legal action if she chose. An "initial view" was that legal action would be likely, Mr Porter said. "I don't know if that position will change by virtue of this payment," he said. "If this does not bring finality to the family, (if civil action was to be launched), we don't want to stand in the way of Ms Donegan embarking on that action." ALS chief executive Dennis Eggington said that his organisation would consult with Mr Ward's family about possible civil proceedings against both the government and G4S. The ALS also requested further information to determine whether it would apply to have a coronial inquest into the death reopened. He described the culpability of G4S as "astronomical" and called on the company to apologise. "That's the least G4S can do," he said. "They have been very quiet in all of this. We've been very disappointed." ALS director of legal services Peter Collins said the role of G4S in Mr Ward's death was "absolutely diabolical". "It was their van, their employees driving the van, at a bare minimum (G4S) should be offering compensation to the family," he said.

July 28, 2010 Scoop
A private prison company that is bidding to run Mt Eden remand prison is under scrutiny in Australia for failing to make recommended changes after a high profile death in custody, said the Green Party today. An Australian parliamentary inquiry this week has heard that G4S has not implemented all the recommendations of an inquiry into the death of an Aboriginal elder in 2008. In particular, G4S has not been providing training to its workers in remote areas, according to Ian Johnston, the Australian Department of Corrective Services Commissioner. Green Party Corrections spokesperson David Clendon said “All of the prison corporations bidding to run Mt Eden remand prison have skeletons in their closets. It’s time for John Key’s Government to review whether any of these companies are suitable to operate in New Zealand,” said. “It is not good enough for the Minister to hide behind the tender process. She needs to let the public know what the minimum standards are for prison corporations who want to operate in New Zealand.” There had been two damning reports of G4S UK operations in the last month and now their Australian operations were coming under scrutiny, added Mr Clendon. “New Zealand’s public prisons are a long way from perfect but the evidence shows that privatisation is no magic bullet. It will not make our prisons safer, better or cheaper. “The community and public sector have lots of good innovative ideas about how the prison system can be improved. The Government should listen to them rather than flogging off prison management to corporations. “Private prisons have to make a profit, which means either cut backs on staff levels and rehabilitation, or charging more per prisoner. The perverse incentive to make a profit out of prisoners is at the heart of the problem,” said Mr Clendon.

July 2, 2010 APP
Protesters over an Aboriginal elder's death from heat stroke in a prison van have accused the West Australian Director of Public Prosecutions of racism for not laying charges. More than 100 people rallied outside DPP Joe McGrath's office in downtown Perth office on Friday chanting "Racist Police" and "Racist DPP". Mr McGrath announced on Monday that no charges would be laid against two security guards over the 46-year-old elder's death because there was insufficient evidence of criminal negligence.

June 27, 2010 The Western Australian
The State's top prosecutor has told the family of an Aboriginal elder who died of heatstroke in the back of a prison van that criminal charges will not be laid over his shocking treatment. The West Australian understands that DPP Joe McGrath flew to the remote community of Warburton over the weekend where he broke the news to relatives of Mr Ward. The decision is expected to get an angry reaction from family members who have long called for charges to be laid over the matter. The West Australian was unable to contact Mr Ward's relatives today. A spokeswoman for the DPP declined to comment. The latest development comes a year after State Coroner Alastair Hope handed down a damning report on the disgraceful treatment of Mr Ward, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons. Mr Hope found two transport guards, Nina Stokes and Graham Powell, the Department of Corrective Services and private prison transport company G4S had contributed to Mr Ward's death. Mr Ward died after being driven 360km in a prison van from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in 42C without air-conditioning in January 2008. Mr Ward's cousin told The West Australian earlier this month that that the matter had dragged on too long and the family wanted both drivers charged as soon as possible over the death. Daisy Ward said at the time that family members were getting frustrated about the lack of action and wanted justice. "I still want them to lay a charge," she said last month. "If it was an Aboriginal person that did that, they would get thrown behind bars. My cousin was like in a furnace…like he was cooked alive in the back of the van." Deaths in Custody Watch Committee Marc Newhouse said this afternoon that he was shocked and dismayed to learn that the DPP would not press charges against the two guards who transported Mr Ward. He said the information on how the DPP reached the decision needed to be released publicly. "There has basically been a lack of transparency in this whole process," he said. "It just highlights that there are some serious flaws in our justice system that when something of this nature happens and no-one is brought to account for negligence." Mr Newhouse said Mr Ward's family and community of Warburton would be devastated by the decision. "It is a complete kick in the guts," he said. "It is going to do nothing for Aboriginal people's confidence in the criminal justice system and particularly where Aboriginal people are the victims." "The community has been very, very patient, including the family, and that patience has just ended." Mr Newhouse said the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee would seek legal advice to determine whether charges could be brought against the Department of Corrective Services or private prisoner transport company, G4S. Mr Hope referred his report to the DPP under a section of the legislation which allows his findings to be sent to prosecutors on the basis that he believed indictable offences may have been committed. But in his written findings, Mr Hope recognised that legal issues relating to the involvement of various individuals and organisations were "complicated". "I do not wish to create unrealistic expectations on the part of the family or in the hope that they will see 'justice' as a result of such a report (to the DPP) being made," Mr Hope said.

November 6, 2009 West Australia Today
The ongoing contract with a private prison transport company responsible for the death of an Aboriginal elder in January last year has sparked legal retaliation. The Deaths in Custody Watch Committee has told radio 6PR that it was seeking independent legal advice to appeal the decision to keep the $25million a year contract between the State Government and contractor G4S. The State Coroner found that the company was responsible for the death of 46-year-old Mr Ward, who had been arrested for drink driving and was being transported 350kms to a Kalgoorlie Court when he suffered heat stroke from the 50C heat inside the unairconditioned truck. "It is outrageous and unimaginable that they [G4S] could continue their contract. They have been responsible for six deaths in Australia in less than nine years," committee spokesman Mark Newhouse said. He said the company, under its current terms, could still be responsible for two more deaths in custody and not have its contract terminated before it expired in 2011. "What is even more concerning is that in one incident, if there are four to five deaths, that is not considered a breach of contract, which is outrageous," he said. The group is also planning on mounting a public campaign to improve proper approvals for public contracts and improving the monitoring of those being transported while in custody. Mr Newhouse said there had been no evidence from the company that any improvements had been made. G4S have refused to comment on the grounds that it was a confidential contract. The Attorney General Christian Porter was also unavailable for comment.

September 30, 2009 ABC
The West Australian Government has officially responded to the coroner's findings in the case of Mr Ward, who died of heatstroke in a prisoner transport vehicle. The coroner said the Aboriginal elder's death in searing desert heat was a disgrace, as the van was "not fit for humans". But the Government has decided not terminate the contract of the private company which transported Mr Ward. The Government says it supports all of the coroner's recommendations - some of which have already been acted on. But the full response has come three months after the coroner handed down his findings, and 20 months since the tragedy occurred. The Government agrees there should be more training and monitoring of staff, and there should not be transportation of prisoners over long distances. But the Attorney-General Christian Porter says the contract with private operators G4S is likely to continue. Mr Porter has suggested the company may have to pay a penalty. "The penalties that you've spoken of, for a death for instance, I understand are $100,000 which seems to me to be ridiculous in the scope of what occurred here," he said. "But again, the question about termination is very unfortunately a question about the legality of being able to terminate under the terms of the present contract." The coroner called for the prisoner transport fleet to be completely replaced. This will not happen until the end of next year. Mr Porter says responsibility for transporting prisoners could be brought back to the public sector. "The final decision as to whether or not this service will be public or private has not yet been made but I can say that if a determination is made to keep this service in the private sector, the contract that governs the process will be a completely different type of contract to the one that presently exists," he said. The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee says Group 4 and GSL staff have contributed to the deaths of six people in Australia. The committee's Marc Newhouse says the contract should have been terminated. "We're completely outraged that the contract with G4S - he hasn't announced the termination of it, it has to be terminated," he said. "They've been subject to critical reports by the Australian Human Rights Commission. This company is not fit to operate in this country and they should be terminated." Noongar elder Ben Taylor says he believes racism in the system is causing Aboriginal people to suffer. "There's a lotta racism there and the only ones who're gonna suffer are my people, Aboriginal people," he said. "This is got to go wider, and I'm on the Watch Committee with Marc and we're going to keep hanging on here because there's more lives that are going to be taken, and that's going to be blackfellas, Aboriginal people, my people, and that's the full stop." Mr Newhouse says the committee had also called for a speedier response in the wake of a death in custody. "That the Coroner's Act is amended in line with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations, that a system of mandatory reporting be put in place so that government and other relevant bodies have to report within a certain time frame," he said. "The point of it is to save lives and to prevent lives being lost." But Mr Porter says the Labor state government should have ended the contract with the company. But the Opposition Leader Eric Ripper says there were other considerations. "You can't just terminate a contract without there being financial consequences for taxpayers and the government does have a responsibility to both protect prisoners and the interests of taxpayers," he said. "That's why this matter needs careful examination rather than a kneejerk reaction."

September 16, 2009 The West Australian
The prison watchdog’s powers will be expanded to allow him to audit individual cases as part of the Government’s response to a coronial inquiry into the death of an Aboriginal elder in the back of a transport van. A legislative package to be announced by Attorney-General Christian Porter this morning will strengthen the powers of the Inspector of Custodial Services in line with recommendations of State Coroner Alastair Hope. The laws will include giving him the power to issue "show cause" notices which require a response from the department of Corrective Services. Mr Hope delivered a damning report in June which found the Department of Corrective Services, prisoner transport company G4S, formerly known as Global Solutions Limited, and the two guards who drove the van had all contributed to Mr Ward’s death. Mr Porter said the Government would not support the Opposition’s proposed legislation on the recommendations, which is scheduled to be debated in State Parliament this afternoon. He said the Labor Bill was flawed and the Government’s legislative package would go further than the Coroner’s recommendations, giving Inspector Neil Morgan the power to carry out individual audits the treatment of up to about 40 prisoners each year. Mr Porter said he would be seeking Cabinet approval for more money to provide extra staff to conduct the audits. Today’s debate on the powers of the inspector coincides with a "day of action" organised by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, which is calling on the Government to respond to the Coroner’s report on Mr Ward’s death.

July 2, 2009 WA Today
The Director of Public Prosecutions has begun his inquiries into the death of an Aboriginal elder in the back of a prison van, giving his family and supporters hope that charges could be laid. The victim was 46-year-old Warburton man Mr Ward, who was effectively roasted in the van during a four-hour journey between Laverton and Kalgoorlie in January last year. A coronial inquest found Mr Ward's death was "wholly avoidable", and State Coroner Alistair Hope recommended charges should be laid over the incident. The inquest was told that Mr Ward - whose first name cannot be published because of cultural reasons - had endured temperatures in excess of 50 degrees in the pod of the van. Mr Hope found "inhumane treatment'' led to the elder's death and said the company involved, Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), its two guards Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, and the Department of Corrective Services had all contributed to Mr Ward's "terrible death''. Today, DPP Robert Cock QC met with two detective sergeants from the Major Crime Squad about the "horrendous" incident and said he had asked them to conduct further inquiries into the man's death. Mr Cock has also been in touch with the Coroner's Court and asked for further information. His spokeswoman said once he gathered all the information, he would then be in a position to decide if charges should be laid. "I don't know how long the garnering of all the information I require will take," Mr Cock said. "But as soon as I have it all, I will make a decision about charges."

June 23, 2009 The West
The West Australian government is reviewing the contract of a security company involved in the death in custody of an Aboriginal elder, Premier Colin Barnett says. Global Solutions, which was acquired by UK-based security services giant G4S last year, provided security for government groups including the Department of Immigration and the WA Department of Corrective Services. GSL employed two guards to transport the elder, 46-year-old Mr Ward, who died in the back of a prison van on a four-hour journey across the WA goldfields in January 2008. Mr Ward, whose first name cannot be released for cultural reasons, was being taken from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face a drink-driving charge. He died of heat stroke after suffering temperatures of 50C in the rear pod of a van driven by the guards, Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell. Earlier this month, WA coroner Alistair Hope apportioned blame for the “wholly avoidable” death among the guards, GSL and the WA Department of Corrective Services. The Director of Public Prosecutions is considering whether charges should be laid over the matter. Mr Barnett said today that G4S would be scrutinised before their government contract was renewed. “It is an absolute tragedy that a prisoner in the care of the state could end up dying in that condition,” Mr Barnett said. “The coroner’s reported, the attorney-general is dealing with that issue, and we will certainly look at the contract and the performance, and ensure that it is never repeated in Western Australia again.” The transport tender for corrective services is due to come up next year. Mr Barnett said G4S would be judged on their performance. “I’m not involved directly in the administration of that contract, but I assure you we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that future prisoners are treated with respect and safely,“ he said. “It would be quite inappropriate for me to comment on a tender process, but obviously their performance will be one of the factors that will be taken into account when that future tender is awarded.”

June 23, 2009 Brisbane Times
A sacked security guard has offered her apologies to the family of an Aboriginal elder who died in custody, while the West Australian government says it's reviewing her former employer's contract. Nina Stokoe, one of two guards who had charge of the man when he died of heatstroke in the back of a secure van during a 360km drive, accused authorities of providing inadequate vehicles to transport prisoners. Security giant G4S last week sacked Ms Stokoe and the other guard, Graham Powell, claiming the pair failed to follow directions to check on prisoners every two hours during the fatal four-hour journey. Mr Ward, whose first name cannot be released for cultural reasons, died after suffering temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius in the rear of the privately operated van which had no air-conditioning. He was being taken from Laverton to Kalgoorlie on January 27 last year to face charges of drink-driving. WA coroner Alastair Hope, who in his findings said Mr Ward had suffered "inhumane treatment", has asked the director of public prosecutions to consider laying charges over the incident. Mr Hope found that Ms Stokoe, Mr Powell, Global Solutions Ltd (since acquired by G4S) and the Department of Corrective Services had all contributed to Mr Ward's "terrible death". Ms Stokoe on Tuesday broke her silence in an interview with the Nine Network, saying she is distraught over Mr Ward's death. In excerpts aired on Fairfax Radio on Tuesday, Ms Stokoe broke down while offering an apology to Mr Ward's family. "I am very sorry that it's happened and I can understand how they feel," she said. "I only wish that it never happened and that he was still around. "I am so sorry that it happened. "Mr Ward will always be on my mind, always, he will never go away." Mr Stokoe said guards endured terrible conditions in the vans supplied by authorities but were afraid of complaining lest they lose their shifts. She accepted her part in Mr Ward's death but said the prison vans were "untrustworthy". "(We've) probably been scapegoats, but at the end of the day we were the ones that were driving the vehicle," she said. "We had no choice what vehicle to drive. "At the end of the day, every day in Kalgoorlie when we drove out to pick up prisoners it's pot luck. "There's many times we have been sat by the side of the road broken down. "Sometimes 15, 20-odd hours those vehicles have been stuck out in the middle of nowhere, broken down, with prisoners on board and without prisoners on board. "Those vehicles were untrustworthy." WA Premier Colin Barnett said the government was reviewing G4S' contract. "It is an absolute tragedy that a prisoner in the care of the state could end up dying in that condition," Mr Barnett said on Tuesday. "The coroner's reported, the attorney-general is dealing with that issue, and we will certainly look at the contract and the performance, and ensure that it is never repeated in Western Australia again." The transport tender for corrective services is due to come up next year.

June 19, 2009 Brisbane Times
Two security guards who had charge of a prison van in which an Aboriginal elder died of heat stroke have been sacked, their employer says. UK-based security services giant G4S said on Friday it had terminated the employment of the two guards, Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, following the completion of a coroner's hearing into the man's death. West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope last Friday delivered a finding that the man, known only as Mr Ward for cultural reasons, had died of heat stroke. He said he had suffered through temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius in the un-airconditioned pod of a van during a 360km journey between Laverton and Kalgoorlie on January 27 last year. Mr Hope apportioned blame for Mr Ward's death between Ms Stokoe and Mr Powell, the private company Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), which has since been acquired by G4S, and the WA Department of Corrective Services. G4S Public affairs director Tim Hall said Ms Stokoe and Mr Powell had disregarded orders to check on prisoners at least once every two hours. But he said their dismissal was a result of the Department of Corrective Services withdrawing their work permits on Monday. "The withdrawal of their work permits effectively made any other considerations unnecessary," Mr Hall told AAP on Friday. Mr Hope has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether charges should be laid over the incident.

June 15, 2009 Four Corners
The company linked to the death of Mr Ward was the subject of a damning report in 2005. An investigation by the ABC's Four Corners program found GSL (now G4S) was the subject of a damning report, published in 2005, by Queensland officials regarding the transportation of immigration detainees in 2004. In that incident, none of the detainees was given food during a seven-hour leg of a lengthy trip from Melbourne to South Australia, and only two were given water. The man who wrote the report, the former head of Queensland's corrective services, Keith Hamburger, says he is concerned about the issues raised by the subsequent death of Mr Ward in Western Australia. The Human Rights Commission later found that one of the detainees was so thirsty that he was forced to drink his own urine. Last week the state's coroner found Mr Ward had died of heat stroke after being carted through the desert in 40 degree-plus heat in a prisoner transport van that had faulty air conditioning. The Aboriginal elder, who had been arrested for drink driving, was found with a third-degree burn on his stomach where his body had come into contact with the van's floor. The coroner found the private security guards who drove the van, the company which employed them, GSL, and the WA Department of Corrective Services all contributed to his death. "The criticism of the company related to our procedures and processes," GSL spokesman Tim Hall has told ABC radio. "We accept that there was some ground for criticism." However it is not the first time GSL's procedures have been criticised. Mr Hamburger's findings were equally damning. He found GSL was "responsible for placing the safety of detainees at risk", "humiliating" them, and "disregarding appeals for assistance from detainees in obvious distress". The guards had driven the first leg of the journey to South Australia non-stop for seven hours. None of the detainees was given food, and only two were given water. "I felt quite appalled actually," Mr Hamburger told Four Corners. "I sat in the van. I talked to the staff that did the escort. I saw the CCTV footage. I was very shocked by the whole thing." One of the asylum seekers, now settled in Australia, describes for the first time the journey he endured. "People was in the back shouting and crying and I was banging as well because I needed to go to the toilet," he said. "And they didn't stop for anything. And I have to do it in the car." 'Great concern' -- One year after the Hamburger report was released, the WA government gave the contract for prisoner transport in the state to GSL. "If these issues are being repeated that's a matter of great concern, because this is not rocket science," Mr Hamburger said. "We're dealing here with, as I've said, duty of care. "We've had many years of experience across the board in corrections and detention and police in dealing with these situations. "There's a whole body of evidence around I guess on how to do these things, and so it is concerning. "They should know better."

June 13, 2009 Perth Now
ONE of two guards suspended over the death of an Aboriginal elder in a prisoner transport van, says she has been ''gagged'' from talking about the tragedy. On Friday, State Coroner Alastair Hope recommended Director of Public Prosecutions Robert Cock consider criminal charges over the "unnecessary and wholly avoidable death'' of Mr Ward, 46, who died on January 27 last year. Officers Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell drove the Warbuton elder, whose first name cannot be released for cultural reasons, for the 352km Outback journey between the Goldfields towns of Laverton to Kalgoorlie. In his stinging finding, Mr Hope said Mr Ward died when temperatures rose to 50C in the pod of the commercially owned van which had no air-conditioning and little-to-no air flow. Contracted transport company, G4S, formally known as Global Solutions Ltd, stood down Ms Stokoe and Mr Powell on Friday. "The two employees have been suspended and the findings of the coroner, the coroner's report and recommendations will be considered carefully and it will then be decided what the next step should be,'' G4S spokesman Tim Hall told ABC radio yesterday. Ms Stokoe declined to comment on her suspension, saying: "I can't talk about anything, I would like to, but I can't''. Mr Ward's family is planning to sue G4S, which runs other custodial services including court security, over the tragedy. Prison Officer's Union secretary John Welch said the inquest had raised questions about the privatisation of custodial services in WA. Mr Welch said he feared G4S would be allowed to be apply for the contract to run the recently announced Eastern Goldfields prison which was scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. "You wonder why, in the light apparent failures of privatisation, you would want to even consider looking at having at private provider in the Goldfields,'' Mr Welch said. A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Christian Porter said no decision had been made on whether the prison would be public or private, and any discussion on the potential awarding of a private contract was speculative. Deaths in Custody Watch Committee chair Marc Newhouse said another public protest was planned for the city on Saturday to lobby the State Government for improvements.

June 12, 2009 WA Today
A man died a "terrible death" in the back of a prison van where temperatures reached 50 degrees celsius, the West Australian coroner has found. Coroner Alistair Hope, in his findings handed down on Friday, said the 46-year-old Aboriginal man's death had been "wholly unnecessary and avoidable". Mr Ward, whose first name cannot be released for cultural reasons, died while being transferred 350km from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in a transit van on January 27, after being picked up for drink-driving on Australia Day. The air-conditioning unit inside the prisoner's compartment of the commercially operated van was not working and the coroner was told Mr Ward would have suffered through temperatures of 50 degrees before his death. He received third-degree burns where his body came into contact with the metal floor in the back of the Global Solutions Ltd (GSL) vehicle. Mr Hope found Mr Ward, of the Goldfields town of Warburton, died of heat stroke. He said his death was the result of a "litany of errors" and accused the prison van drivers of collusion and giving false evidence. He said the fact the prison van did not have a spare tyre was an indication of GSL's "reckless approach". It was a disgrace that a prisoner yet to be convicted was transported such a distance in the oven-hot conditions, Mr Hope said. The prisoner's compartment had little light, no restraints to protect the person inside if the van was involved in an accident, had little air flow and the fan did not work when tested, Mr Hope added. There was no proper method for a prisoner to communicate with the drivers, he said. About 40 protesters demonstrated outside Perth's Central Law Courts, where the coroner delivered his findings. Amnesty International called it "a disgrace that a prisoner should be transported in this way in the 21st century".

May 16, 2009 The West
He literally cooked to death. Trapped in a prison van for four hours, suffocated by temperatures that climbed to more than 50C, the Aboriginal elder had no way to communicate with security officers sitting just a metre away, in the airconditioned cab. His only sustenance was a small bottle of water and a meat pie. When he finally collapsed on the van floor, the metal was so hot it seared his skin. Yesterday, Corrective Services Commissioner Ian Johnson travelled to Kalgoorlie to publicly apologise to Mr Ward’s family, accepting responsibility for the 46-year-old’s death in January last year. It was a dramatic end to a coronial inquest that has revealed a litany of failures in the justice and custodial systems in WA’s outback. Widow Nancy Ward and her children will return to Laverton next week after sitting quietly and with dignity throughout the case, which has attracted the attention of the United Nations and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Mr Ward, a conservation worker, a supporter and interpreter for local police and an advocate and educator for children of the Gibson Desert, was an international ambassador for the Ngaanyatjarra people. His family say he was treated like an animal. Mr Ward had been drinking on Australia Day last year in the remote Goldfields town of Laverton when he was arrested for driving with more than four times the legal alcohol limit. Conducting a quasi-court hearing for Mr Ward at his cell door at the local police station, justice of the peace Barrye Thompson remanded him in custody to face court in Kalgoorlie the following day. Mr Thompson told the inquest he had no formal training when appointed as a JP and could not even remember whether he had read the Bail Act. The Aboriginal Legal Service was not contacted. Guards and police officers testified the prison vans used by Global Solutions Limited and maintained by the State were notoriously unreliable, sub-standard and the air-conditioning was often faulty. GSL’s supervisor in Kalgoorlie, Leanne Jenkins, had warned her management an incident would occur unless the vehicles were replaced. At 11.20am, the GSL prison van pulled into a secure area at Laverton police station where the guards were told they would have a trouble-free passenger. Mr Ward made a comment about the warm day and a guard told him “the quicker he got into the van, the quicker the air-conditioning would kick in”. But the air-conditioning did not work: it had been reported faulty in the GSL maintenance log more than a month earlier. Before making the continuous 360km journey to Kalgoorlie, the guards did not tell Mr Ward there was a duress alarm in the back of the van in case he needed help. Towards the end of the trip, they heard a loud thump. Pulling over on to the side of the road and opening the outer door of the van, the guards felt the heat radiating from the rear pod and they saw Mr Ward face-down on the van floor — unconscious and unresponsive. Reaching into the back of the van felt like a “blast from a furnace”, according to Dr Lucien LaGrange, who assisted in removing Mr Ward’s lifeless body at Kalgoorlie Hospital. Doctors found full-thickness contact burns on his stomach and tried for 20 minutes to resuscitate Mr Ward, whose skin felt like a “hot cup of coffee”. They managed to get a brief return of a heartbeat, but after putting him in an ice bath, his body temperature was still 41.7C. Coroner Alastair Hope is due to deliver his findings on June 12. For now, the Ward family will have to return to a community missing a leader. It is little comfort to them that money was allocated in this week’s State Budget to replace the fleet of transport vans — four years after the Department for Corrective Services undertook to do so. “I am sorry,” Mr Johnson told Mrs Ward yesterday. “I have a deep regret but no matter what I say, it’s not going to change what happened.”

May 14, 2009 The West
More than 30 family members and supporters of Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder who had a fatal heatstroke in the back of a prison van, gathered outside the Kalgoorlie Courthouse yesterday to call for those responsible for his death to face tribal punishment. Mr Ward’s widow Nancy and his four sons were among those who wailed in grief as they demanded justice and answers to why the Warburton elder died in such horrific circumstances. The family’s interpreter and relative, Gail Jamieson, said that under traditional law, anyone found culpable of the death should be speared. “The family is just devastated,” she said. “He was treated with no respect and he was a well-respected, outstanding elder. If they were in an Aboriginal culture, they would be speared because us Aboriginal people are also going through two cultures.” The inquest was told no disciplinary action was taken against the two GSL officers responsible for transporting Mr Ward on the day he died. Mr Ward died after a four-hour journey in a GSL prison van from Laverton to Kalgoorlie on January 27 last year when temperatures reached 42C. Global Solutions Limited general manager John Hughes said security officers Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell were stood down on full pay and were reinstated when an internal investigation found they had not violated company policies or procedures. Questioned by the family’s barrister Michael Rynne, Mr Hughes said any reinvestigation would depend on Coroner Alastair Hope’s findings. GSL’s multi-million-dollar contract could require it to pay a penalty of 4.5 per cent of its value if found to have failed in its duty of care. Mr Hughes said he understood GSL’s obligations included ensuring officers minimised hardship to detainees, conducting regular checks to ensure their safety, security and health and preventing injury. The inquest concludes today.

March 21, 2009 The West
The security guard who drove the van in which an Aboriginal elder died of heat stroke has admitted he should take responsibility for the death. Testifying for a second day at the inquest into the death of 46-year-old Mr Ward, Global Solutions Limited driver Graham Powell said yesterday he regretted how Mr Ward died. “In hindsight, if I had to do that journey again, I would certainly be doing it a lot differently,” he said. He agreed with lawyer assisting the coroner, Felicity Zempilas, it was inhumane to transport prisoners in the rear pod of the van over long distances and that the vans were “certainly not designed for that”. Coroner Alastair Hope told Mr Powell he was “troubled” over his evidence about phone calls made after Mr Ward collapsed. Mr Hope said a delay of two minutes between calls was a long time in an emergency. To questions from his counsel Linda Black, Mr Powell said he should have checked the airconditioning, made comfort stops and told Mr Ward explicitly how to communicate with the officers if he was in distress. The inquest has heard Mr Powell and colleague Nina Stokoe did not stop during the four hours they had Mr Ward in the van in mid-40C heat while driving from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in January last year. Mr Ward suffered a full-thickness hand-size burn on his stomach from a hot metal surface inside the van. Senior chemist David Tranthim-Fryer said the prison van temperature would have been above 50C. Evidence from a police re-enactment he helped with revealed the van floor reached 56C and the air temperature at least 50C on a slightly cooler day. The temperature would have been hotter with a person inside because there would have been another heat source. “We opened the back doors and could feel the heat coming out of the pods. The hot air affects you more than anything else,” Mr Tranthim-Fryer said. Mr Ward’s body temperature was 41.7C after 20 minutes of resuscitation in an ice bath while being fanned. The van’s rear-pod airconditioning was not working, a fault noted in the GSL maintenance log more than a month before Mr Ward’s death. Mr Powell said he did not check the airconditioning in the pod despite knowing it had a history of faults. He had assumed Ms Stokoe checked it. Mr Hope has heard evidence from witnesses, including GSL’s Kalgoorlie supervisor Leanne Jenkins, who spoke of substandard “unreliable” prison vans which were not suitable for long distance travel. The inquest did not finish within the two-week timeframe and Mr Hope adjourned it until May 11. Outside, Mr Ward’s cousin Bernard Newberry said his family wanted those responsible charged. The family has asked that Mr Ward’s first name not be used.

March 20, 2009 The West Australian
The guard responsible for transporting an Aboriginal elder who died in custody was previously demoted for breaching procedures and compromising prisoner safety. Giving evidence at a coronial inquest into the death of 46-yearold Mr Ward, Global Solutions Limited security officer Graham Powell said he had been stood down as a supervisor because he breached the company’s policies and procedures. The inquest in Kalgoorlie was told Mr Powell was stood down from GSL for six months in January 2007 because he compromised prisoner security when he failed to ensure prisoners were loaded into a prison van in a secure area. He also breached procedure by smoking in prison vans and allowing staff and prisoners to smoke in cells. Mr Ward’s relatives travelled from around the State to attend the inquest yesterday. Mr Ward’s widow Nancy cried when Mr Powell told how he and fellow security officer Nina Stokoe heard a “loud thud” when Mr Ward collapsed in the back of a prison van. Mr Ward died of heatstroke after collapsing in the back of the GSL prison van during a fourhour, non-stop journey from Laverton to Kalgoorlie-Boulder on January 27 last year. Mr Powell said when he arrived at the hospital he checked the airconditioning in the rear pod of the prison van. “I put my arm inside the prisoner compartment and it appeared to me there was no air coming out the vents,” he told State Coroner Alastair Hope. Mr Powell said he had not checked the prison van’s air-conditioning before leaving for Laverton because it had not been included on a vehicle inspection check sheet. He agreed with Mr Hope that it was highly dangerous not to check the air-conditioning before transporting prisoners.

March 18, 2009 Perth Now
TWO guards responsible for transporting an Aboriginal elder 352km across the West Australian outback joked about how he must have been "freezing his balls off" hours before he died of heatstroke in the back of a corrective services van, an inquest has been told. Giving evidence via video link yesterday, Global Solutions Ltd officer Nina Stokoe said she did not check that the air-conditioning in the back of the corrective services van in which the prisoner died was working - even though it had been faulty and the outside temperature had soared to 42C - because it was not part of procedure. Ms Stokoe said she assumed the air-conditioning was working in the rear because there was no problem with the air-conditioning in the front cab and Ward, whose family does not want his last name published for cultural reasons, would have banged on the side of the van if there was a problem. According to Ms Stokoe, during previous trips, other prisoners often complained that the air-conditioning was too cold, and she and fellow officer Graham Powell joked that, while they were too hot, Ward would be the opposite. "I had a joke with Graham," she told the inquest into Ward's death. "(I said) I bet he's freezing his balls off while we're sitting here stinking hot." Coroner Alastair Hope asked whether it would have been prudent to check the air-conditioning on such a hot day when it had been known to break down and Ward was in a section of the van with only metal seats. "It (the air-conditioning) wasn't on the check list ... I wouldn't know how to check it," Ms Stokoe replied. Ward died on January 27 last year after attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was being transferred from Laverton to prison in Kalgoorlie after being arrested for drink driving on Australia Day. Mr Hope was yesterday also told how the Kalgoorlie-based supervisor for GSL, Leanne Jenkins, warned her superiors just four months before Ward's death that someone would "eventually die" if the company's outdated and poorly maintained vans were not replaced. Ms Jenkins said the only response she received was that any vehicles in need of repairs should not be driven. She said the two vans based at Kalgoorlie always had problems and were not suitable for long trips. Ms Stokoe and Mr Powell made no stops on the 3 1/2-hour journey until they heard a thud in the back of the van when they were just outside Kalgoorlie. When they pulled over to check on Ward, Ms Stokoe said, they did not open the van's back doors completely because it was not procedure and Ward might have been trying to escape. "If he was mucking around and it was an escape attempt, we would look like idiots," she said. After realising he only had a faint pulse, the officers rushed Ward to hospital. The inquest continues today.

March 17, 2009 Perth Now
AN Aboriginal elder who died in the back of a prison van arrived at hospital, unconscious and with third-degree burns, an inquest has heard. Lucien LaGrange, who was working in the emergency department of Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital when Ward arrived in the non-airconditioned van, said a blast of hot air hit him when he opened the back of the vehicle. Respected elder Ward - whose family does not want his first name mentioned for cultural reasons - did not appear to be breathing. "It was like a blast from a furnace - it was extremely hot," Dr LaGrange told Coroner Alastair Hope. "I was struck by how wet and slippery he was. It was almost like he had been coated in soap - he just slid." Dr LaGrange said that despite medical staff placing ice over Ward's body, his body temperature was 41.7C. That day, January 27 last year, the outside temperature climbed to 42C. After many resuscitation attempts, Ward was declared dead about 90 minutes after arriving at the hospital. Ward was being transported 352km from Laverton to Goldfields Regional Prison in Kalgoorlie after being charged with drink-driving on Australia Day. The inquest was told that the company responsible for transporting Ward, Global Solutions Ltd, raised concerns with the West Australian Government about the poor state of its vans before Ward's death, but was told no new vehicles were available. Under a multi-million-dollar contract, GSL is responsible for transporting prisoners, while the Department of Corrective Services is responsible for maintaining the fleet of vehicles. Former GSL employee Thomas Akatsa told the hearing that after the company failed to secure new vans from the Government, he raised concerns with the company's supervisors, including airconditioning faults and overheating, but was told not to talk about it. Mr Akatsa said the vans used to transport prisoners were sub-standard, did not contain toilets and were not suitable for travelling long distances. Despite regular problems with airconditioning in the back of the vans, Mr Akatsa said there was no requirement for staff to check the airconditioning was working. He said that while he always did check, not all officers did, including one of the officers who transported Ward on that day, Graham Powell. The inquest heard that Mr Powell, who is to give evidence today, had been demoted from a supervisor to a driver before the death. One of his colleagues at the time, Lynette Corcoran-Sugars, testified that she requested not to work with Mr Powell, accusing him of breaching procedures and inappropriately using constraints on prisoners. Ms Corcoran-Sugars and Mr Akatsa said that when they transported prisoners from Laverton to Kalgoorlie, they made at least one stop and offered prisoners water, food and a toilet break. The inquest has heard that no stops were made during Ward's journey and that he was given only a 600ml bottle of water and a pie before leaving Laverton. Questions were raised about whether Ward should even have been in custody, with barrister Lachlan Carter for the Aboriginal Legal Service claiming a proper bail hearing, as defined by the act, did not take place. The inquest heard that GSL's motto was "safety first". Mr Hope questioned how this could be the case when the company allowed staff to transport prisoners in vehicles that did not have a usable spare tyre. The inquest continues today.

March 12, 2009 ABC
A coronial inquest into the death in custody of an Aboriginal elder from the Central Desert will resume today in Kalgoorlie, in south-eastern Western Australia . Mr Ward died in Kalgoorlie hospital in January last year after being transferred in the back of a prison van from Laverton. Temperatures on the day were mid-40 degrees Celsius and the journey lasted for four hours. In Warburton earlier this week, the inquest heard the airconditioning in the back of the van was not working and that Mr Ward died of heatstroke. Mr Ward's family testified he was a hard working and respected elder. The inquiry will today hear from police officers who arrested Mr Ward for drink driving and officers from the private transport company Global Solutions Limited which transported him to Kalgoorlie.

March 13, 2008 The Age
A NIGERIAN man who twice resorted to drinking his urine during a nightmarish seven-hour transfer to Baxter detention centre without food or water will be given $20,000 compensation. Four others who endured the trip in the back of the van with him will also be compensated after the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found they had been subjected to "degrading treatment". The five detainees, whose plight was revealed in The Age, were taken from Maribyrnong in Melbourne to Baxter on September 17, 2004 by guards from GSL, the company that runs Australia's detention centres. A report by commission president John von Doussa found the van did not stop for any breaks in the seven hours from Melbourne to Mildura, breaching the detainees' human rights. The report said the drivers ignored signs that the detainees needed toilet stops, having watched them urinate on closed-circuit camera, and disregarded their banging on the walls. Nigerian man Austin Okoye, 26, suffered the "additional indignity" of twice drinking his urine to relieve his "excessive thirst", the report said. GSL guards were also accused of using excessive force in removing 53-year-old Vietnamese detainee Huong Hai Nguyen from his dormitory at Maribyrnong for the trip. The Immigration Department initially denied Mr Nguyen's allegations. But the department referred the case to the commission after receiving a second complaint from Mr Okoye. In July 2005, Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe said GSL would be fined $500,000 after the independent report substantiated most of the allegations. Yesterday Mr Metcalfe said GSL would also pay the compensation. "These people were mistreated and they deserve to be compensated," he said. The report said Mr Okoye and Mr Nguyen should get $20,000 each, and the others $15,000. GSL spokesman Tim Hall said the company did not accept the claims about Mr Okoye being forced to drink his urine. But he said GSL endorsed the rest of the report and the Commonwealth would be fully indemnified. The report urged the Government to locate the victims as soon as possible (three of them, including Mr Nguyen and Mr Okoye, have been deported) to provide them with their compensation and a formal apology.

February 22, 2008 The Green Left
A February 22 meeting between Western Australian prisons minister Margaret Quirk, Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Dennis Eggington and WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee chairperson Marc Newhouse resulted in some ministerial promises of reforms following the the death in custody of an Aboriginal elder on January 27. The elder, from the desert town of Warburton, died after collapsing in the back of a prison van while being transported for four hours in 43oC heat to a jail in the outback city of Kalgoorlie. He had been arrested on January 26 for alleged drink-driving while visiting relatives in the remote town of Laverton, 352 kilometres north of Kalgoorie. The van was driven and staffed by employees of Global Solutions Ltd, an Anglo-French prison management company, which the WA government has contracted to transport prisoners. Professor Richard Harding, the WA government’s inspector of custodial services, told the news media on January 29 that he was not surprised at the Warburton elder’s death, given the state of the prisoner transport fleet. He said that the “government-owned vans are continually breaking down, leaving prisoners stranded in searingly hot conditions in remote areas”. Among other things, Quirk has agreed to overhaul procedures followed when a prisoner is transported. New procedures, to be in place by March 14, will include a health assessment and provision of water and food.

February 4, 2008 News.com.AU
THE contractor that transported an Aboriginal leader who died in custody last weekend has previously been criticised for the treatment of detainees. Government contractor Global Solutions Limited has been accused of the humiliation and sensory deprivation of detainees, who were forced to urinate in their cramped compartments, inadequate provision of food and fluids and the prank strip search of a prisoner. The death of Ian Ward in the sealed compartment of a "bloody hot" van last Sunday as the outside temperature climbed to 43C has prompted an unprecedented attack on the Carpenter Government by the Inspector of Custodial Services, who said the state's chronically deficient prisoner transport system would probably not be tolerated if 95 per cent of prisoners were white, instead of up to 95 per cent of them being Aboriginal. Anger is growing in the desert community of Warburton in WA's Ngaanyatjarra lands over the death of Mr Ward, who collapsed in what may have been an unairconditioned or inadequately airconditioned rear compartment while being transported 352km by GSL. The van transporting Mr Ward left the town of Laverton about midday for Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison to be remanded in custody on a drink-driving charge when he vomited on himself and fell unconscious. His body was wheeled into Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital at 4.30pm on Sunday after the two GSL guards in the van found he had collapsed in the back. Witness Jodie Aurisch said a female GSL guard told an emergency department doctor: "It is bloody hot in the back of the van". GSL and its $70 million prison transport contract with the Carpenter Government are likely to be examined as part of a coronial inquest into Mr Ward's death in custody. It will not be the first time the company faces scrutiny. In 2005, GSL was fined almost $500,000 over mistreatment of immigration detainees. In 2006, GSL was fined a reported $200,000 after guards at Port Phillip Prison in Victoria jokingly strip searched a prisoner as part of a prank called "Sausagegate". A federal government report into GSL's transfer of five detainees from Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne to Baxter Immigration Facility in South Australia over two days in 2004 found the officers involved had not been adequately trained and treated the detainees inhumanely. In his report into the incident for the Howard government, investigator Keith Hamburger found the van used was unsafe and inhumane and that the detainees had been denied access to toilet facilities, forcing them to urinate in their compartments. The officers were also found to have ignored appeals for assistance from detainees in distress. Melbourne legal advocate Chandarev Singh said GSL had shown "a pattern of lethal indifference". GSL's director of public affairs, Tim Hall, said Mr Singh's "inaccurate and unpleasant personal views" did not warrant comment.

February 1, 2008 The Western Australian
Police yesterday refused to reveal the results of a post-mortem examination on the body of an Aboriginal elder who died after he collapsed in custody while being taken to Kalgoorlie in the back of a van. It is understood police received the results yesterday. Warburton Aboriginal elder Ian Ward collapsed in the back of a Global Solutions Limited van on Sunday after a four-hour trip from Laverton to Kalgoorlie and died a short time later at Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital. The 46-year-old, who was being transferred to face a charge of drinkdriving, was found unconscious in the back of the van in the middle of the afternoon when temperatures outside exceeded 40 degrees. It is understood the van’s air-conditioning broke down the previous week and had to be replaced. The van is part of a fleet owned by the State Government but managed by the private prison management company. The State Government’s controversial deal with Global Solutions Limited, the group responsible for prisoner transport, could be tested, depending on the outcome of the investigation into Mr Ward’s death. Opposition Leader Troy Buswell said the death in custody raised serious concerns over the State Government’s “gifting” of the contract to GSL. GSL was controversially awarded the $70 million prisoner transport, court custody and security services contract last year when the company bought out the previous contractor Australian Integrated Management Service. Letters obtained under Freedom of Information laws revealed the Inspector for Custodial Services, Richard Harding, told Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk in April that the plan for GSL to take over the contract was unwise and risky. Despite his advice, Cabinet not only approved the takeover of the AIMS contract by GSL last July, but days later it extended the deal by three years without any public tender process. “Depending on the outcome of the investigation by police and the coroner, the State Government needs to be examining every aspect of the contract and take action against GSL if and when it is appropriate,” Mr Buswell said. Ms Quirk said issues surrounding Mr Ward’s death, including the contract with GSL, was a matter for the police investigation and the coronial inquest and it was not appropriate to speculate.

January 31, 2008 News.Com.AU
PRISONER transport contractors for the WA government were warned about the "parlous state" of their fleet well before an Aboriginal elder died in a prison van. Ian Ward, 46, of Warburton in the Goldfields, died during a Global Solutions Ltd transfer from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in hot conditions on January 27. It is unclear if the airconditioning was off, or faulty. Drivers of the van took Mr Ward, who had been picked up for drink driving on Australia Day, to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital after they found him collapsed. He died a short time later. WA Custodial Services Inspector Richard Harding wrote to GSL last year outlining six concerns, including 'GSL's capacity to cope with the logistical challenge of running a transport service across such huge distances as are involved with Western Australia''. "The parlous state'' of the government-owned fleet upon which GSL would have to rely was among Mr Harding's concerns. GSL is contracted by the WA government to provide prisoner transport services and by the federal government to run immigration detention camps and transport immigration detainees and prisoners. Project SafeCom spokesman Jack Smit said there had been other transportation issues under the watch of GSL, formerly US-owned but bought last month by European security consortium Group 4 Securitas. "This is an ongoing issue partly because it's an out-of-Australia company ... you no longer have people employed who are directly responsible, by contract, to the minister,'' Mr Smit said. A 2005 federal government inquiry found GSL failed to provide medical assessments and treatments for injured detainees who were being transferred to the Baxter detention centre in South Australia from Maribyrnong in 2004. The probe found the van used to transport detainees was "unsafe and inhumane'' with airconditioning design faults. The five were sent an apology and compensated by the immigration department. WA major crime squad detectives are investigating the latest death amid calls from human rights groups for an independent investigation. WA Deaths in Custody watch committee spokesman Marc Newhouse said Mr Ward's death should not have happened. "Clearly the government has already been warned about the state of that fleet, which is government-owned,'' Mr Newhouse said.

January 29, 2008 News.Com.AU
THE West Australian desert town of Warburton was in mourning yesterday over the death in custody of its former Aboriginal community chairman, who was arrested on Australia Day for allegedly drink-driving. Ian Ward, a 46-year-old father of five and one of the last nomads born in the Gibson Desert, died the following day after collapsing in the back of a security van during a 915km journey to jail in the goldfields city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Major Crime Squad detectives are investigating. Mr Ward was being driven by contractors for the Department of Corrective Services, who noticed he had collapsed as they neared their destination. Mr Ward's nephew Andrew Johns said his large family was gathering in Warburton to remember a man who lobbied for his people's native title rights. "We are very sad today," Mr Johns said. The family understands Mr Ward died of a heart attack in hot conditions in the back of the van. "It is a long way to go and very hot," he said. Police had stopped Mr Ward last Saturday at 9.30pm in his remote home town of Warburton, about 1500km northwest of Perth in the traditional Ngaanyatjarra lands between the Gibson and Victoria deserts. He was charged with one count of drink-driving and taken to the lockup in Warburton. Mr Ward was driven 570km to the courthouse in Laverton, where he appeared on Sunday morning and was remanded in custody. Police say he was being transported to the nearest jail - the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison 352km away - when he collapsed. Mr Ward was being transported by Global Solutions Ltd, having been picked up in Laverton at 11.40am, police say. He was being taken in the rear of the GSL security van. As the van neared Kalgoorlie, he was found to have collapsed. He was conveyed to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital, where he died a short time later.

March 16, 2006 The Age
WHEN Devandar Naidu was at work his boss would kick his chair from beneath him. The security guard was subjected over four years to names such as "coconut head" and "monkey face". He would start work at 7am and not be allowed to go home until 10pm. He had to ask his boss's permission to go to the toilet. Yesterday, the NSW Supreme Court awarded the former guard $1.9 million in compensation for the relentless bullying that left him incapable of working again. Outside the court, Mr Naidu's lawyer, Shaun McCarthy, described the award as a "rare victory for the little man against a giant … conglomerate". "He had a nervous breakdown, he will never work again," Mr McCarthy said. The abuse of Mr Naidu at the hands of News Ltd's security and fire manager, Lance Chaloner, was described as "extraordinary" by Justice Michael Adams. The abuse started in 1992, when Mr Chaloner threw tantrums, would kick chairs from under Mr Naidu, and call him names such as "black c---". Although his hours were 7am to 4pm, Mr Chaloner made him work unpaid until after 10pm. When Mr Naidu went on a rare holiday to Fiji with his family, Mr Chaloner insisted that he telephone work every day, which involved a 15-kilometre trip to a phone, and he had to pay for the calls. When he returned, he was told to do manual work at Mr Chaloner's home, and threatened with the sack if he didn't. Mr Chaloner was dismissed by News Ltd in January 1997. The judge said that although Mr Naidu remained at work until mid-1997, he could not operate effectively. He had major depression and post traumatic stress disorder. News Ltd will share the damages with Group 4 Securitas Pty Ltd, the bulk to be paid by Group 4, which employed Mr Naidu.

Junee Jail
Junee, New South Wales
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Apr 23, 2017 juneesoutherncross.com.au
Death of a paedophile at Junee jail sparks a debate of morals
Human rights advocates are enraged following the “callous” treatment of a dying paedophile at Junee jail. Keith Howlett was serving a two-year sentence for child-sex offences when he collapsed and died after just five weeks at the privately-run Junee Correctional Centre. The Riverina facility has been criticised by the coroner following the “unnecessary” and “painful” death but online communities say his suffering was “deserved”.  Deputy State Coroner magistrate Harriet Grahame found the “disappointing” medical neglect of 49-year-old Keith Howlett contributed to his torturous final weeks - “full of despair”. The inquest found Mr Howlett had been experiencing vomiting, insomnia and diarrhea and he was coughing blood. Mr Howlett had previously been diagnosed with lung cancer, HIV, peripheral vascular disease, chronic nausea, depression, anxiety, insomnia, gastro-oesophageal disease and hypercholesteromia. While in jail, Mr Howlett was weaned off his pain medication, his cancer treatment was not continued and he was never seen by a psychiatrist. Despite his pain, a wave of controversial comments flooding social media have deemed the inmate’s suffering to be a form of justice for the young “victims he hurt”. One Facebook comment read: “He was a filthy dirty paedophile. One can only hope his suffering was long and slow.” “Is this a joke,” another post read. “All pedophiles rapists and murderers should be made suffer greatly. The coroner should be encouraging more of it.” However Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins said a society was only as good as the way it treated its prisoners. Mr Collins said many people would focus on an offender’s crime or the fact they violated norms but it “didn’t remove the democratic entitlements of all human beings”. “If we allow people who are dying to be treated callously, we are degrading our own community,” Mr Collins said. “There is a clear, legal and moral obligation to look after all members of the community.” Mr Collins said even the deputy state coroner had been shocked by “the careless disregard for a dying man”. “’He was going to die anyway’, was not the way he should have been treated,” Mr Collins said. “What we have here is the GEO Group abdicating responsibility.” Mr Collins said he feared the coroner’s recommendations for improved palliative care and health services in the centre would not be adopted. “No one took responsibility in was an appalling case,” he said. “The government think they can do whatever they want to people in prison and their legal entitlements are being ignored.” Mr Collins said GEO was “caught callously treating the lives of prisoners” and could not be trusted to supply health care. He appealed to legislators to replace the centre’s health care services. “It is essential we defend human, moral and legal rights,” he said. “And it’s definitely essential for government and private companies like GEO to abide by their obligations.” GEO Group have said they are reviewing recommendations.

Apr 13, 2017 colliemail.com.au
Death of a paedophile at Junee jail sparks a debate of morals Steff Wills Steff Wills
Human rights advocates are enraged following the “callous” treatment of a dying paedophile at Junee jail. Keith Howlett was serving a two-year sentence for child-sex offences when he collapsed and died after just five weeks at the privately-run Junee Correctional Centre. The Riverina facility has been criticised by the coroner following the “unnecessary” and “painful” death but online communities say his suffering was “deserved”.  Deputy State Coroner magistrate Harriet Grahame found the “disappointing” medical neglect of 49-year-old Keith Howlett contributed to his torturous final weeks - “full of despair”. The inquest found Mr Howlett had been experiencing vomiting, insomnia and diarrhea and he was coughing blood. Mr Howlett had previously been diagnosed with lung cancer, HIV, peripheral vascular disease, chronic nausea, depression, anxiety, insomnia, gastro-oesophageal disease and hypercholesteromia. While in jail, Mr Howlett was weaned off his pain medication, his cancer treatment was not continued and he was never seen by a psychiatrist. Despite his pain, a wave of controversial comments flooding social media have deemed the inmate’s suffering to be a form of justice for the young “victims he hurt”. One Facebook comment read: “He was a filthy dirty paedophile. One can only hope his suffering was long and slow.” “Is this a joke,” another post read. “All pedophiles rapists and murderers should be made suffer greatly. The coroner should be encouraging more of it.” However Justice Action coordinator Brett Collins said a society was only as good as the way it treated its prisoners. Mr Collins said many people would focus on an offender’s crime or the fact they violated norms but it “didn’t remove the democratic entitlements of all human beings”. “If we allow people who are dying to be treated callously, we are degrading our own community,” Mr Collins said. “There is a clear, legal and moral obligation to look after all members of the community.” Mr Collins said even the deputy state coroner had been shocked by “the careless disregard for a dying man”. “’He was going to die anyway’, was not the way he should have been treated,” Mr Collins said. “What we have here is the GEO Group abdicating responsibility.” Mr Collins said he feared the coroner’s recommendations for improved palliative care and health services in the centre would not be adopted. “No one took responsibility in was an appalling case,” he said. “The government think they can do whatever they want to people in prison and their legal entitlements are being ignored.” Mr Collins said GEO was “caught callously treating the lives of prisoners” and could not be trusted to supply health care. He appealed to legislators to replace the centre’s health care services. “It is essential we defend human, moral and legal rights,” he said. “And it’s definitely essential for government and private companies like GEO to abide by their obligations.” GEO Group have said they are reviewing recommendations.

July 17, 2013  The Daily Telegraph

HEROIN and other illegal drugs were readily available in one of the state's privately-operated prisons where inmates were able to spend virtually every day "stoned" on illicit substances, a coroner has said. Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund this morning delivered her findings after an inquest into the death of an inmate, Anthony Van Rysewyk, who overdosed on heroin while housed at the Junee Correctional Centre in May 2011. The 28-year-old had been serving a nearly 10-year sentence for robbery and was being held in the prison's minimum-security wing when he was discovered unconscious in his cell during the morning head count. The inquest heard "compelling and frighteningly frank" evidence from several other prisoners from the country NSW facility who revealed how drugs had been freely available in the centre with the bulk smuggled in during weekend visits. "Heroin, marijuana and the illegally obtained prescription medication bupamorphine were easily accessible to inmates," Ms Freund said. One prisoner, who can't be named for legal reasons, gave evidence he witnessed a "Lebanese bloke" get handed a golf-ball-sized package during a weekend visit the day before Van Rysewyk was found dead. "The inmate then put the parcel up his bum ... just as the inmate had his hands up his pants (a corrections officer) went over to him and told him and his missus to be off the grass," the prisoner said. Lawyers for Corrective Services NSW argued the inmates' testimony about the amount of drugs available in the prison shouldn't be believed, but Ms Freund rejected the suggestion - adding the prisoners had "no conceivable reason to lie" as many had given evidence against their own self-interest. Jay Bishop, who investigated the death for corrective services, told the inquest that the number of officers supervising visitors was inadequate and at least five times the staff should be employed for the task. He also said drug dogs and CCTV cameras should routinely be used to police the visitors' area. Russell McAuliffe, who was responsible for the centre's daily management for private operator the GEO Group, admitted there were times when visitors were left unsupervised and the drugs which killed Van Rysewyk had probably been smuggled into the centre the day before the death. But despite the fatal overdose, only one corrective officer had since been added to watch over visitors and no steps had been taken to otherwise upgrade security. Ms Freund said the evidence "overwhelmingly" led her to the conclusion drugs were routinely being smuggled into the centre by visitors and security was "clearly inadequate". "Unfortunately, any improvements made to date have been nominal," she said. The coroner recommended screening measures at the prison's visitor centre be upgraded and CCTV options be reviewed. Ms Freund said Van Rysewyk was "very much loved" by his mother Sharon and other family despite his "difficult final years", and he had indicated a strong desire to end his time in prison and be reunited with his relatives. "Quite simply, his mum was looking forward to getting to know her son but never got the chance," she said. In a statement, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the death was taken "very seriously" and the coroner’s recommendations would be looked at. "CSNSW has instructed GEO to develop strong actions plans for our approval and we will monitor the implementation of all responses identified to improve security," he said. "In addition, should any system-wide issues be identified as a result of analysis, we will implement a broad response to ensure best practice security and training is being delivered by Corrective Services NSW for the benefit of the community." The GEO Group said it had already taken steps to address failings identified in the coroner’s recommendations, including reviewing its staff training, visitor security and screening systems.

June 15, 2011 ABC
It is uncertain whether the sacking of five guards at the Junee Jail will result in changes to inmate monitoring policies. The officers were dismissed yesterday for using surveillance cameras to watch a female inmate undress to shower. The guards were stood down after the incident in late May and faced a three hour disciplinary hearing last week. The GEO Group which run the Junee Jail will not comment on whether the incident has resulted in changes to staff protocols. Only four women prisoners can be housed at the Junee Correctional Centre which has a small remand unit. A spokesman for GEO says the Department of Corrective Services will be notified of the dismissals.

June 1, 2011 Daily Advertiser
NSW Corrective Services last night announced it will launch a full review of Junee Correctional Centre's (JCC) housing of female inmates. The move comes after private prison operator GEO Group stood down five JCC staff over allegations they spied on a female inmate as she undressed. "The commissioner has ordered a review of protocol surrounding management of women at Junee Correctional Centre," a NSW Corrective Services spokeswoman said. A senior female officer will travel to Junee in the coming days to conduct the review. JCC has long had facilities to hold up to four female inmates, who are kept in a separate section attached to the medical centre. A source close to JCC said only women in remand or awaiting court appearances were kept on site. "They're normally in transit somewhere," he said. He asserted it was unlikely NSW Corrective Services would attempt to stop the practice as department officials "are the ones that asked us to house them there". Prisoner rights group Justice Action has launched a broadside attack on GEO Group over its private operation of the centre. Justice Action spokesman Brett Collins, a former inmate himself, yesterday said the internal investigation by the company would be unlikely to result in justice for the inmate. "(The inmate) has rights; there are civil rights ... but what's the proof going to be?" Mr Collins said. "Do you think the guards are going to give evidence? I don't think so." He said when private operators are able to hold scrutinising authorities "at arm's length" it put operational transparency in doubt. However, a spokesman for GEO Group said the recent incident "wasn't a strong argument against private prisons". "This could happen at a private or public prison," he said. It is expected the findings of GEO Group's investigation will be released later this week.

April 19, 2011 Daily Advertiser
THE company that manages Junee jail has denied claims that an assault on a wheelchair-bound inmate was covered up after a complaint was filed with the NSW Minister for Justice, Greg Smith, and the Ombudsman. The Daily Advertiser was last week sent an explosive account of an alleged assault on an inmate who, as a wheelchair-bound amputee, is unable to defend himself. The allegations, which are being made by the inmate's wife, are extremely detailed, and include claims the inmate who attacked her husband has "some influence over certain officers in the unit", which is why, she claims, a report of the assault, which supposedly took place on February 22, was not filed at the time. The allegations name several officers who work at Junee Jail, claiming that one noted the assault when it happened and another took down a formal complaint from the victim on the day it happened. "(Name blanked out) was assaulted by a fellow inmate," the allegations state. "This was an unprovoked attack, witnessed by several other inmates. "He was punched in the face, resulting in a black eye; there may have been other injuries, but this was the particular injury that was noted by an officer, (name blanked out)." Junee jail is privately owned and managed, and according to the company that manages it, GEO Group, the alleged assault was not reported until five weeks after it allegedly occurred. "GEO immediately conducted an investigation but found no evidence to corroborate the allegation of an assault," a statement released by a GEO spokesman says. "The alleged assault has been reported to the Ombudsman and the Minister's office and GEO is preparing a response."

May 14, 2010 Daily Advertiser
A JUNEE jail inmate who accidentally swallowed condoms containing amphetamine smuggled into the prison thought he was going to die, Wagga Local Court has heard. The revelation came when the prisoner, 27-year-old Ashley Sloan, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to one count of possessing a prohibited drug. Bob Stapleton from the Department of Corrective Services said the incident had been reported to the department, but investigations into it were a matter for the private company that runs prison, GEO Group. Ken Davis for GEO said the jail had a very strict regime on drug detection enforced by drug detection dogs, urine sampling and other measures, but despite these efforts a small amount of drugs did enter the prison via visitors. He described the incident as isolated and said drug detection statistics at Junee were well below the national benchmark. Sloan was quizzed about how he got the drugs, but stayed mum. If not for Sloan falling ill after swallowing the drugs and making a plea for help the smuggling may have gone undetected. The court heard Sloan told jail officers on November 23 he had been on the prison oval the previous day and had accidentally swallowed amphetamine - known as speed - after concealing it in his mouth. Sloan was taken to Wagga Base Hospital where he was given medication to counteract the amphetamine. There were concerns for Sloan's health when his heart beat became irregular, and he spent some time in the intensive care unit. The prisoner's bowel movements were monitored, eventually resulting in the recovery of a small perforated piece of rubber that appeared to be a condom. According to police, Sloan later said to a jail officer guarding him "Chief, I've got something for you". Police facts tendered to the court said Sloan handed over a condom tied at one end. It contained a substance that tests later revealed was 2.87 grams of speed. Sloan later told police he had swallowed two balloons, but declined to give any other information. It is understood the prisoner has also refused to say a word GEO about how he obtained the drugs, but there are suspicions the speed might have been smuggled in to the prison by a prison visitor the previous day.

March 9, 2009 Sidney Morning Herald
AS A state open to the peddling of political influence from those who have donated to government election coffers, NSW takes some beating. Starting with Sydney's foundation 221 years ago, bending the rules of governance - and worse - to help mates who have helped you has been part of the political culture. Fortunately there is far more transparency now than in the bad old days about who makes financial donations to whom. But three recent cases in Sydney show how the culture still lives in the state Labor Party in a worrying way. The first involves Nick Lalich, the Mayor of Fairfield and state MP for Cabramatta. He presided over a meeting of Fairfield City Council last week that considered a $1 million application from Fred Pisciuneri, a developer. Coincidentally, Mr Pisciuneri had made a $2000 donation to Labor at a fund-raising dinner for Mr Lalich in October, when he won the seat in a byelection. Mr Lalich declared a "non-significant, non-pecuniary conflict of interest" at the council meeting. He now says he "probably" could have been more cautious and abstained from voting. Then there is Virginia Judge, the Minister for Fair Trading, who organised a campaign against a Coles supermarket being built near Strathfield Plaza, a shopping centre in her electorate. She also successfully lobbied her colleague Tony Kelly, the Minister for Police, to have a police station shopfront set up in the plaza. Outwardly, there seems little to question. But then we learn Strathfield Plaza is owned by Memo Corporation, a company that has donated more than $50,000 to Ms Judge's political campaigns over six years. Finally Paul McLeay, the MP for Heathcote, was vice-chairman of a parliamentary committee reviewing a $26 million government contract with GEO Group to run the state's only private prison at Junee. The same company had donated $2000 to Mr McLeay's political campaign. It later gave more than $45,000 to Labor, before the 2007 election. While all three MPs protest their innocence at charges of inappropriate behaviour, the cases nonetheless suggest a distinct trend for a party that seems bereft of fresh initiatives after 14 years in power. Instead of its traditional pursuit of social justice, Labor seems to have succumbed to what the state Opposition rightly calls a "donations-for-decisions culture". Its most brazen, and extreme, manifestation was on display in the scandal that engulfed Wollongong City Council last year. Equally, the Sydney deals show the need for tougher rules against what has become in effect the recycling of political money to do favours for donors.

March 5, 2009 Sidney Morning Herald
THE LABOR MP Paul McLeay is under pressure to stand down as chairman of a parliamentary committee after it emerged that he accepted a donation from the company that runs the state's only private prison. When he accepted the donation from the GEO Group the committee was reviewing the company's $26 million contract. GEO donated $2000 to Mr McLeay's personal campaign on August 28, 2005 when the member for Heathcote was vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that was looking into whether the private Junee prison was providing value for money compared to public jails. A month later a report from the committee concluded that the Government should keep the prison operating. GEO donated more than $45,000 to the Labor Party in the lead-up to the last state election but the donation to Mr McLeay was the only one from the company that went to an individual MP. Mr McLeay, who is now committee chairman and receives an extra $17,440, said he doubted there was any "overlap". "From my recollection the report was well and truly over and I had a fund-raising dinner or luncheon sometime after that, and there were about 12 people there, one of which was GEO," he said yesterday. "Maybe the committee had finished the work and it took a while for the report to be tabled because I wouldn't have accepted a donation if we were still looking at it because that would have not been appropriate." The committee's report concluded that Junee provided good value for money because it was able to house prisoners for $73.59 a day compared to the state-run Kempsey jail which costs $91.75 a day. GEO is the second biggest operator of private prisons in the US. It is favoured to take over Parklea and Cessnock jails when they are privatised. A spokesman for GEO said there was no discussion of the committee's report at Mr McLeay's dinner and the company had understood that the report had been written long before the fund-raiser was held. The Greens MP Sylvia Hale said Mr McLeay should be stood down as committee chairman. "It was completely inappropriate for Mr McLeay to accept a personal campaign donation from GEO while he was vice-chairman of the public accounts committee that was examining the GEO private prison contract," Ms Hale said. "It is fundamentally wrong for a company that is receiving public funds from a government contract to be donating some of those funds back to the party that granted them the contract. All of this is even more concerning when the donations are from a company with the international reputation of the GEO group." Ms Hale will today introduce a private member's bill into the upper house to prevent the privatisation of the state's prisons unless any sale has the support of both houses of Parliament.

January 28, 2009 Daily Advertiser
TWO Junee jail inmates yesterday spent hours on a roof of the prison in baking heat after what is believed to be an escape attempt was foiled by guards. Guards late last night were trying to talk the men down from their rooftop perch. The drama began about 3.30pm when the prisoners reportedly made a dash for a maintenance vehicle apparently with the intention of making a jail break. The men were prevented from getting into the vehicle by guards so they apparently scaled a protective fence and climbed onto the metal roof. From a road outside the prison about three hours into the stand-off, armed officers wearing safety vests and helmets could be seen several metres away from the two shirt-less prisoners. The prisoners were well within the perimeter of the jail and there was no chance of them escaping. An ambulance was on stand-by at the prison, built for minimum and medium security inmates. The company that runs the privately operated 750-bed prison for the State Government, the GEO Group, last night was not commenting on the incident, and it was not known if the facility was in general lockdown. Negotiations were still ongoing last night.

October 24, 2008 Daily Advertiser
TOILET paper became the new currency in the Junee jail when a shortage of the product hit the prison, the NSW Ombudsman has said in his latest report. The issue was one of a number of case studies in the Ombudsman’s just-released 2007-08 annual report. “When an inmate called from Junee to complain that their toilet roll ration had been reduced, we made immediate inquiries with the centre,” the case study said. “Reducing or removing basic necessities, such as toilet paper, can spark an easily preventable incident in a correctional centre. “We were told that each inmate usually received two rolls per week, but if they ran out they could get more from the sweepers (inmate domestic workers) in their pod. “The sweepers, however, no longer had a supply and – in the absence of sufficient toilet rolls – they had become jail currency and were being stolen from the cells. “When we called the centre they were not aware of any change to the ration of toilet paper and undertook to investigate and rectify the situation immediately.” The annual report said that in recent years the number of complaints against the jail was significantly higher than from other similar sized correctional centres. There was a slight decrease this year in the number of complaints, down from 360 in 2006-07 to 341, of which there were 83 formal complaints and 258 informal complaints. Only the Metropolitan Special Programs Centre, with 344 complaints, had more complaints than Junee. Junee has one of the largest prison populations in the state and is the only privately-operated jail in NSW. It is run for the government by the GEO Group. A spokesman for the company, Ken Davis, said it had noted the Ombudsman’s remarks and looked forward to working with him to address any issues.

October 23, 2008 ABC News
Junee Correctional Centre has been trialling new staffing arrangements in a bid to address ongoing high complaint rates. The State Ombudsman's annual report, which was released yesterday, says the number of complaints from the Junee Jail in recent years is significantly higher than from other similar sized centres. It says that may be due to physical separation of inmates and staff. The report says the centre's management is trialling placing staff in inmates' accommodation for fixed times each day to handle requests and questions which has resulted in a slight reduction in calls to the Ombudsman's office. Junee Correctional Centre received 341 complaints over the year. The report also includes details of an inmate reporting a reduction in toilet roll rations and says at the time of the complaint the toilet rolls became jail currency and were stolen from cells. It says when management was contacted they acted immediately to investigate and fix the situation. In a statement, the GEO Group, which runs the jail, says it acknowledges the remarks and looks forward to working with the Ombudsman to address any issues.

January 18, 2006 ABC
Junee Jail has restructured its senior management in response to an inmate's escape last year. Three senior staff were suspended when Lon Thomas McAlister walked out of the prison in October, but they have now returned to work. The Geo group's Colin Kelaher says the managers have retained their roles, but some duties have been delegated to other positions. He says management is still implementing the findings from the security review. "One of the recommendations that did come out of it and we've recognised that is ... the importance of restructuring in the staff at the facility to, I guess, more importantly oversee some of the roles of security there and ... we're doing that at the moment," he said.

November 1, 2005 ABC
A prisoner who escaped from Junee jail in south-western New South Wales last week is believed to have walked out the jail's front gate. Forty-six-year-old Lon Thomas McAllister was serving an eight-year term for armed robbery and is considered dangerous. The manager of Junee jail, Derek Bullock, says it appears McAllister was very well organised and left town quickly on Friday, possibly via the jail's main entrance. "Because our perimeter fence was not breached, the anecdotal information is that this prisoner actually managed to get through our front gate," he said. Corrective Services officials travelled to Junee at the weekend to assess security at the jail and its operator, the GEO group, plans another security review tomorrow.

January 14, 2005 Sidney Morning Herald
Longer sentences, tougher bail laws and higher police numbers have boosted NSW's prison population to 9000 for the first time, the Premier, Bob Carr, boasted yesterday. In another development yesterday, the head of a parliamentary committee launched an inquiry into the cost-effectiveness of the state's only private prison, run by the US company GEO Group Australia. Labor MP Matt Brown, the chairman of the NSW Parliament's public accounts committee, said he wanted to inquire into whether the Junee prison really was value for money. Mr Brown said the committee would look into explanations from the Department of Corrective Services that maximum-security jails had higher costs than the medium-security Junee and that housing female prisoners involved special needs and higher costs. As well, publicly owned jails were older and not as cost-efficient to run as Junee, which was built under the Greiner government in the early 1990s. Mr Brown said Labor policy opposed the building of private jails. The review would examine the performance of privately run prisons in other states.

September 13, 2004 ABC
Prison officers are back on duty at Junee jail in southern New South Wales after a seven-day strike. The action by 120 officers ended on Friday night when members of the Miscellaneous Workers Union voted to return to work.Union spokesman Geoff Lawler says he will be seeking a commitment to full staffing levels at talks with GEO Australia on Wednesday.

September 9, 2004 ABC
Striking prison officers at Junee Jail in southern New South Wales are threatening to obstruct entry to the prison unless management responds to their demands soon. About 120 officers walked off the job nearly a week ago, complaining about staffing levels and pay. The private prison operator, GEO Australia, has brought in outside workers to run the medium security facility and says the matter is in the Industrial Relations Commission. Union organiser Geoff Lawler says the striking guards may use force to stop people crossing the picket line.

April 16, 2004 ABC
The operator of Junee private prison has dismissed concerns about the jail's security, after the escape of an inmate yesterday.  Police are still searching for Christopher Pritchard, who they say has a history of violence and should not be approached.  It is believed the Gosford man was serving out the end of a sentence, which had been re-instated after he breached parole.  Police say the 23-year-old escaped on a prison motorbike while working outside the prison grounds and then used a screwdriver to hijack a car.  Police suspect he then headed towards Sydney after stealing a second car.  Junee prison director Dom Karauria says a review of security will be conducted, but denies the security breach is cause for alarm.  "I don't think the community needs to be too concerned about the degree of security in the prison itself," he said.  "I mean, when you put things in perspective this inmate has been working out in the community for the last six months and working out in the prison farm. There's been no breach of the prison security itself." 

May 24, 2001
A snap strike at the privately run Junee Jail has ended, with the 600 prisoners now free to leave their cells, but the parties remain far from agreement.  The jail's managers have told the Industrial Relations Commission they are losing money on a new contract to manage the jail.  In a dispute over the introduction of 12 hour shifts, officers picketed the entrance to Junee Jail today, forcing managers to cut a hole in one fence and call in the police to gain alternative access.  At a hearing in Wagga Wagga, Commissioner Tabbaa says she was very disappointed Australasian Correctional Management did not adhere to her recommendations on roster changes, sparking the walkout.  ACM's representative told the hearing the company is losing money on the current shift arrangements.  (ABC News)

Maribyrnoug Detention Centre
Serco (Global Solutions, formerly run by GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Feb 14, 2015 theage.com.au
Shirtless and barefoot, Mustafa Bektas sits on a low bench with his back against the wall. Five guards and a senior operations manager surround him in the cell. Two of them restrain his arms. Security footage from the detention centre in Melbourne's west shows the burly Turkish detainee being overpowered and pinned to the floor. He said Serco officers tied him up with three sets of handcuffs behind his back and he was forced down on his stomach, gasping for air. "[My] breathing was getting slower … they just kept pushing down and down. One was pushing my head down towards the ground," he said, speaking through a translator. "One of the handcuffs were too tight ... I was in pain. All I want is water. I kept saying that. All I want is water. One of the six of them went to get water, but the manager turned around and said 'no, don't give him water'." Bektas said he had been acting out that day, agitated because of a painful skin condition. He had repeatedly punched the cell wall and screamed to the guards outside. But officers' heavy-handed response was excessive, he said. The detainee's claims, which Serco officers have also recounted, are now being probed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Detention centre violence usually evokes images of riots and chaos on offshore camps such as Manus Island, but the hostility appears to have reached Melbourne too. Just weeks after Bektas was allegedly subjected to excessive force at the western suburbs detention centre, another detainee reported being kicked in the stomach by a guard. The Chinese woman, who is believed to have a mental illness, became upset and angry because she could not leave a secure area. According to internal documents, she threw a computer monitor on the floor and smashed a microwave when told by a guard she had to stay in Zone B one night in late January. Witnesses interviewed by Serco said the woman kicked and punched the officer. One said she then saw the officer raise his leg and kick the woman hard in the stomach. The report also said problems with the camera system prevented CCTV footage from the room and corridor from being reviewed. "[The detainee] said that the officer was standing by the door and was backing her," the report said. "She said she touched the officer very softly on the back, to which the officer allegedly raised his back foot and kicked her very hard on the stomach area." Photographs obtained by Fairfax Media show the woman lifting her T-shirt emblazoned with the Australian flag and the word "Melbourne" to reveal severe bruising on the right side of her abdomen. The woman was offered pain medication after complaining of discomfort when she swallowed following the alleged attack. In a letter to the woman last month, Serco said the matter warranted further investigation and would be referred to human resources. Serco said it took the allegations "very seriously" but told her not to expect to hear anything further about the complaint "due to Fair Work and Privacy Act requirements". A third case involving a detainee who was attacked led to two guards being sacked. The detainee, a Sri Lankan man, reported he was pushed and punched in the face by the officer. Serco apologised to the detainee last month, saying it does not condone staff acting inappropriately or illegally.

January 20, 2012 The Herald Sun
THE Melbourne immigration detention centre, which holds killers, drug dealers and failed asylum seekers, has had 25 escapees in three years. Seventeen fugitives, including drug dealers, are still on the run. Most were on overstayed or cancelled visas, and are awaiting deportation. The revolving door at Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre has forced three internal security reviews that recommended significant changes. Now, red-faced services provider Serco is scrambling to extend electric fences and add what immigration department officials describe as "additional anti-climb measures". One source said changes to "soften" the centre's image after 2005, which eventually led to an electric fence replacing razor wire, meant easier escape routes. The source said the centre was not a prison but Serco had not given staff what was needed to manage trouble-makers or felons.

July 8, 2011 Herald Sun
In a major security breach, three men awaiting deportation effortlessly opened doors and internal gates on their way to scaling the centre's perimeter fence. One was armed with a 45cm double-sided blade believed to have been smuggled inside. The breakout, in the early hours of Monday, has enraged departmental chiefs and left red-faced security provider Serco facing an estimated $1 million fine. The Immigration Department said the three were Vietnamese nationals detained for overstaying visas. One failed to climb the fence, injuring his hand. His accomplices succeeded, only to be recaptured 30 minutes later by police dogs after the alarm was raised. All three are back in detention. The Herald Sun believes the escapees told authorities a security officer gave them swipe cards and impressions of padlock keys. Sources said the incident highlighted a growing "prison culture" in the centre, which is also home to detainees with convictions including murder and drug crimes. The department would not confirm or deny that keys and swipes were used, citing "operational reasons". But it has ordered an investigation and demanded an explanation from Serco. The foreign-owned company is paid about $1 billion to run the nation's detention centres. Serco recently brought in dozens of foreign staff, mostly from the UK, to staff its centres amid the rising numbers of boat arrivals.

January 9, 2011 Sunday Herald Sun
A SECURITY firm may be fined over the escape of an Italian national from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. A source told the Sunday Herald Sun the detainee scaled a high wall on New Year's Eve using a rope made of bedsheets. A spokesman from the Immigration Department said an investigation had begun to see if the escape was a result of "lax standards" by the centre operator, Serco. "We're awaiting an urgent report from Serco explaining the details of the guarding and security at the time," the spokesman said. "There are clauses in our contract, which so far we haven't used, that fines can be imposed for lax standards and we'll be looking closely at that. It shouldn't be happening." Thirty-five detainees have escaped from Serco-operated facilities in the past 12 months. Twenty-three have been recaptured. "We have a contract in place to ensure that Serco provides the service we require," he said. "They are required to provide secure detention services. Any escape is unacceptable and the contract has provisions for fines. "We're waiting on the details of what they say happened to work out what we can do to improve standards."

October 6, 2010 The Age
An Indonesian man who overstayed his visa has sparked a police hunt by escaping from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne's west last night, says the immigration department. The man, believed to be in his 30s, fled the facility about 8.45pm last night after being taken into custody on September 21 during an operation to find people who had overstayed their visas. A spokeswoman said for the immigration department said an investigation would be launched into how the man fled the facility, which is managed by private company SERCO. "Victorian police have been notified and the detention service provider has commenced a full investigation into the incident," said the spokeswoman. "The department will work actively with the detention services provider to investigate systems, procedures and infrastructure that are currently in place." SERCO is required to prepare a report for the department explaining the circumstances of the disappearance. The man is the second person to escape from the centre in recent months, with a Cambodian national fleeing while on a recreational visit to a nearby ten-pin bowling centre in early August. He managed to evade two security officers who accompanied him on the excursion.

August 3, 2010 The Age
A Cambodian national locked up for overstaying his visa is on the run after escaping from security officers during a trip to a bowling alley in Melbourne's west. The man, who was being held at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, was taken to the Highpoint AMF Bowling centre in Maribyrnong on Saturday with another inmate and two security officers as part of an organised excursion. After bowling a few frames and eating some fast food, the man fled from the centre about 11.15am and hailed a taxi, a caller to Radio 3AW's Rumour File said today. He remains on the run despite a large-scale search involving Victoria Police. A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman this morning confirmed the man's escape, and said an investigation had been launched into his disappearance. "The man originally from Cambodia and another client were being escorted by two detention service private officers when the man ran off," he said. "Extra ... staff were immediately called to the scene but the man was unable to be relocated. Victoria Police were notified and the department has called for a full report into the incident from (the private security contractor) Serco." The caller to 3AW said the man was captured on CCTV camera hailing a cab outside the bowling alley. "No resource was spared looking for the light-footed escapee, last seen wearing a pair of two-toned, talcum powder-filled, non-marking soled shoes with the number six on the back of them," he said. "Going back over the CCTV footage the client had hailed a cab, changed a few lanes and was last seen heading in an easterly direction." The Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said he could not release the man's identity or age for privacy reasons. He said clients at immigration detention centres were regularly taken on excursions. "Detention centres are not prisons so its important to provide clients with recreational opportunities for their welfare," he said. "The department continues to look for him. Vic Police have been notified."

June 3, 2010 9 News
Two managers have been sacked and two others have been transferred following the escape of six people from Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. Nine people initially escaped from the complex in Sydney's southwest in the early hours of Tuesday, May 25. Three were detained by police as they escaped, but six others, all Chinese nationals, remain at large. Serco, the UK-based security company that manages the centre, undertook a "comprehensive investigation" following the escape, Serco spokeswoman Emma Needham said in a statement. "Serco has dismissed two employees today and redeployed two others following an internal investigation into last week's escapes from Villawood," she said. "In order to take the management of the centre forward and deliver the transformation required, changes to a number of positions were necessary." The company faces fines and sanctions imposed by the federal government following the escape. Immigration Minister Chris Evans has ordered an investigation into the breakout, the latest in a series of escapes from Villawood. Serco also manages security at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne's western suburbs. It came under fire after a Chinese national slipped away from two Serco security staff while on a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium in March.

April 2, 2010 The Age
A CHINESE man has embarrassed his private security minders by escaping from immigration detention while on an excursion at the Aquarium in central Melbourne. The man, who was waiting to be sent back to China, escaped while in the supervised care of officers from SERCO, a private firm that receives $70 million a year to manage Australia's detention facilities. Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday called for a detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding the incident that comes on the heels of controversial escapes from Sydney's Villawood detention centre. It is believed the man slipped away on March 24 during a routine group excursion from the Maribyrnong Detention Centre, where he was being held. Melbourne police were immediately alerted. The man is the fourth Chinese national to escape from SERCO's custody in the past week. Only days ago three Chinese scaled a high-security fence at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre. They have not been seen since. A spokeswoman for the minister said escapes were not acceptable and that SERCO was contractually obliged to guarantee the detention of unlawful non-citizens. SERCO faces heavy fines under its contract with the federal government if it fails to present a plausible explanation for the lapses. Although the man was not considered dangerous, he was due for removal to China for breaches of visa conditions. It is believed several officers were at the Aquarium, but they failed to notice the man slip into a large crowd at the tourist attraction. He was with other detainees from the Maribyrnong centre. It is believed he had been detained several times by immigration compliance officers for breaching his visa conditions before being taken into custody. An Immigration Department spokesman said detainees were held under administrative law and were not subject to criminal punishment. Detainees were provided with regular excursions under duty-of-care requirements. Senator Evans has already ordered an inquiry into security at Villawood where SERCO has sacked 10 staff over security breaches.

December 16, 2008 The Age
THREE detainees at Maribyrnong Detention Centre pulled off brazen escapes at the weekend, raising questions about immigration security. The latest escapes come less than two months after a Vietnamese detainee posed as a visitor and walked straight past security guards. Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone called on detention centre operator GSL to review security, after two Vietnamese men scaled a five-metre fence at the rear of the detention centre at lunchtime on Saturday and disappeared. The following night, Turkish man Mustafa Bectis managed to shrug off his two escorts at the emergency department of the Western General Hospital in Footscray, where he was being treated for a cut arm. "If someone has just climbed over the back fence, GSL does need to very urgently review its security," Ms Stone said. "If another person is being escorted to hospital and managed to escape then certainly they've got to take a lot more care." Mr Bectis, who was not handcuffed or shackled, raced through a door and vanished. The two escapes are believed to have been assisted by people from the outside, with detainees able to communicate using email and mobile phones. Police were immediately called in both instances by GSL, but have been unable to trace the absconders. Ms Stone also criticised the decision not to make the escapes public, saying that residents who lived near the detention centre could have helped the police. "Australia is such a multicultural place, it is very easy for anyone to blend into the background — we don't require a showing of papers at borders between states," she said. She also said GSL may need to review its mobile phone policy where a detainee had a high flight risk. In the past three years, 20 detainees have escaped while at Maribyrnong, Villawood and Perth detention centres, mostly while being escorted to court or on social outings. Four escapes have been from Maribyrnong this year, compared with just two from Villawood and one from Perth. The weekend shemozzle has come at a sensitive time for GSL, which hopes its contract will be renewed after the former government re-tendered all detention services. A decision is expected to be announced in the first half of next year. The Government is already under pressure over its border protection policy, with the Opposition claiming the scrapping of temporary protection visas has made Australia a "soft target" for people smugglers. An Immigration Department spokesman said GSL would review security arrangements at Maribyrnong. "It is the responsibility of the detention services provider to ensure appropriate security is maintained at all times," he said. But he said email and mobile phone access were a "fundamental right" for people in immigration detention, and their use would not form part of the review. GSL's director of public affairs, Tim Hall, said escapes were a matter of great concern. "We constantly strive to balance the needs of clients who are being held in administrative detention, not imprisonment, against our obligation to ensure that they are securely detained," he said.

December 22, 2005 The Age
THE family of a Tongan man who died in controversial circumstances at the Maribyrnong detention centre five years ago has launched a damages action against the Immigration Department and the centre's former operators. In what is believed to be the first such legal action, the department and Australasian Correctional Management are being sued over the death of 53-year-old Viliami Tanginoa five years ago today. Law firm Slater & Gordon has launched the claim on behalf of Mr Tanginoa's widow , Tongi; his sons Viliami jnr and Antonia; daughter Polsapina; and four half brothers. Lawyer Dina Tutungi said Mr Tanginoa's life was treated with "reckless indifference reflecting a culture of contempt towards people held in detention in Australia". The father of seven climbed to the top of a basketball pole to protest at his intended deportation that day. He had come to Australia for work 17 years earlier, overstaying his original visa. He was arrested at Swan Hill in August 2000 and applied for a bridging visa but was refused. He had been on top of the basketball ring for eight hours when he plunged to his death. Detainees claimed he was taunted by guards just before he fell. Ms Tutungi said a video shows staff placing mattresses underneath the pole and then removing them, offering Mr Tanginoa cigarettes to come down while one officer bounced a ball in his vicinity. A coronial inquiry blasted ACM, saying while the immediate cause of Mr Tanginoa's death was his decision to jump "another cause was the inaction of the detention centre's management; a failure to manage". Coroner Phil Byrne said ACM had failed to call in specialist police negotiators: "If expert negotiators had been involved, I am satisfied the tragic event would have been prevented." Slater & Gordon said Mr Tanginoa's family was not initially informed of his death and were distressed at discovering autopsy marks on his body when it was returned to Tonga. There was also a failure to advise the family of the original inquest on January 20 to 24 and they attended a partly reheard inquest six months later.

Lack of resources under a "tight" Federal Government contract influenced the handling of events surrounding the death of a detention centre inmate, a psychiatry expert told an inquest yesterday.  Forensic psychiatry professor Paul Mullen also questioned the approach of Maribyrnong Detention Centre staff during a stand-off in 2000.  Coroner Phil Byrne is investigating the death of Viliami Tanginoa, 53, who either fell or jumped to his death after spending eight hours on top of a basketball pole on the day he was to be deported to Tonga.  Mr Tanginoa, who had been in detention for four months, had overstayed his three-month tourist visa by 17 years. His application for a refugee visa in 1994 was refused and subsequent appeals rejected.  Professor Mullen, clinical director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, criticised the Immigration Department for not providing adequate resources to the centre's operators, Australasian Correctional Management, under a "tight contract". "Where was the plan, where was the structure, where were the people who had the training and the ability to carry out that structured plan?"  Professor Mullen also said the self-described "wait and see approach" of staff was bordering on contempt of Mr Tanginoa.  (The Age)

Melbourne Custody Centre
Melbourne, Australia
Group 4 (formerly run by GEO Group formerly known as Wackenhut)
February 25, 2010 AAP
CONDITIONS in Melbourne's custody centre breach the Victorian government's own human rights charter, the independent watchdog says. In a wide-ranging report, Ombudsman George Brouwer says holding people at the Melbourne Custody Centre without access to daylight or fresh air is in breach of the charter of human rights. Victoria became the first state to have a human rights charter, which was passed by parliament in July 2006. People arrested by police are being held at the centre for an average of three to four days, despite Mr Brouwer recommending three years ago holding times be limited to overnight or over a weekend. "I remain concerned that persons can still be held at the Melbourne Custody Centre for longer than overnight or over a weekend," Mr Brouwer said in his report tabled to state parliament today. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. "Detaining people underground, without access to daylight or fresh air, is in my view inappropriate, inhumane and contrary to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities." The centre is run by private operators GEO Group Australia, contracted by Victoria Police, and receives more than 11,000 people every year. It has a holding capacity of up to 100 people during the day and 67 at night. Corrections Minister Bob Cameron said people should expect their rights to be substantially curtailed in prison. When asked if it was appropriate people were denied access to fresh air and daylight for days he replied: "You know cells are not nice places, let's be very clear about that." Nationals corrections spokesman Peter Ryan said it was unacceptable for anyone to be held in the centre for more than 24 hours. "The conditions are archaic, they are in many senses inhumane," he said. Mr Brouwer has also raised concerns poor infection control in jails is putting the public at risk. "Infection control in prisons is an important public health issue and I am concerned by the time taken to fully implement the Communicable Diseases Policy," he said. "With the large number of prisoners serving short terms of imprisonment, coupled with high levels of re-offending and returns to the prison system, the risks to the health and wellbeing of prisoners and to the wider community are significantly increased." Mr Brouwer noted the department had taken some steps to reduce the transmission of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections among prisoners. Mr Brouwer's report tracks the progress of implementation of recommendations he made between July 2006 and June 2008. About one quarter of recommendations remain unimplemented.

February 7, 2010 The Sunday Age
THE state government is poised to award a multimillion-dollar prison contract to a private company whose human rights record has been called into question. The Sunday Age can reveal that private prison contractor G4S Australia & New Zealand is the preferred tenderer to take over the Melbourne Custody Centre, a city-based facility that each year processes 11,000 people through cells under the Magistrates Court. The private security firm was last year named in a damning West Australian Coroner's report, which found it had contributed to the ''wholly unnecessary and avoidable death'' of a 46-year-old Aboriginal man in its custody in January 2008. The company's record in Victoria is also marked by a coroner's finding last year that it contributed to the 2005 death of Ian Westcott, who died of an asthma attack in the G4S-run Port Phillip prison. A note found near his body read: ''Asthma attack. buzzed for help. no response.'' In 2000, a coroner found the company had failed to provide a safe environment at Port Phillip when four men hanged themselves in 1997. A 2006 report by the Victorian Ombudsman and the Office of Police Integrity found inadequacies in the way prisoners were transported, with insufficient attention paid to their conditions, including ''basic amenities for long trips''. Charandev Singh, a spokesman for the Centre for the Human Rights of Imprisoned People, said the decision to give G4S preferred tenderer status was shocking. ''The company's lethal record, combined with the circumstances of the horrific death of [the Aboriginal elder], appears to have been totally negated by the Brumby government and Victoria Police in their intention to award a further lucrative contract to this company.'' The Melbourne Custody Centre tender is a sensitive issue for the state government, which was last year criticised by prisoner advocates for renewing G4S's prisoner transport contract despite the WA Coroner's finding. The two companies shortlisted for the Melbourne Custody Centre - G4S and GEO Group Australia - both have blemished records in the eyes of human rights advocates. GEO Group Australia is the existing contractor and has been criticised by the Ombudsman several times for using excessive force on prisoners - most recently in August 2008. GEO, which has run the 30-cell facility for almost 11 years, was recently dropped from the shortlist when the government named G4S as preferred tenderer. Both firms are subsidiaries of multinational outfits specialising in security systems and correctional and detention facilities. The contract for management of the custody centre - which serves the court system but also operates as a holding facility for drug and alcohol-affected people - is yet to be signed with G4S, but is believed to be with Corrections Minister Bob Cameron. A G4s spokesman said he could not comment while the tender was still going. A spokesman for Mr Cameron said he was also unable to comment.

September 27, 2009 The Age
A PRISONER was assaulted and marched naked through the controversial Melbourne Custody Centre in an incident that breached his human rights, the Ombudsman has found. The August 2008 incident, revealed in the Ombudsman's recent annual report, led to the punishment of several officers from the prison's operator, the private company GEO Group Australia. Ombudsman George Brouwer found officers had used excessive force on the prisoner. The inmate, who had soiled himself, was moved naked through the centre to the showers. ''I considered this treatment not to be in accordance with the values enshrined in the Charter [of Human Rights and Responsibilities],'' Mr Brouwer said in his report. The incident is the second use of excessive force against a prisoner in as many years at the custody centre. Victoria Police said GEO had reviewed its operating policies after the incident and implemented new measures to ensure there were no further breaches. The police would not say how the GEO officers were disciplined or if the company was fined, as when officers failed to protect an inmate bashed in 2005. The Sunday Age was unable to contact GEO Group Australia for comment.

December 13, 2007 Herald Sun
MORE than 20 prison guards have been sacked for sleeping on the job, getting too close to inmates and other protocol breaches over the past two years. The firm that runs the troubled Melbourne Custody Centre -- GEO Group Australia -- has sacked or let go 20 guards from its 14 Australian jails since January last year. GEO Group managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout told the Herald Sun that four of those were from Victoria. The company said that two guards had been dismissed for having inappropriate relationships with inmates; two for physically abusing inmates; one for sleeping on the job; one for misusing a prison vending machine; and one for accepting gift vouchers from a supplier. Mr Bezuidenhout said that another five guards had been sacked or resigned after launching vicious physical attacks on inmates in the Melbourne Custody Centre in 2005. One of those was David Eastham, 25, jailed last month for kicking an inmate as he lay handcuffed on the floor. The State Ombudsman found a culture of aggression in the centre, mostly instigated by a thuggish network called "The Family". After the Ombudsman's findings were made public last month, Mr Bezuidenhout told the centre's staff one violent incident was "one too many". Only one guard from Victoria's public prison system was sacked in the same period.

November 24, 2007 The Herald Sun
TORTURING prisoners at the Melbourne Custody Centre was commonplace, former staff claim. Three former MCC prison officers told the Herald Sun yesterday a clique of staff known as "The Family" regularly terrorised inmates. Their claims come as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission warned the State Government of its responsibility to ensure all prisoners were treated humanely. Chief executive Helen Szoke said the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities comes into effect in January. Dr Szoke said the charter protected all Victorians. "The Government is accountable for the treatment of prisoners, whether they are in state-run institutions or privately run, like the MCC," she said. State Ombudsman George Brouwer this week accused the MCC group known as "The Family" of thriving on aggression and use of excessive force. He made public graphic CCTV footage of an alleged attack on a prisoner that may lead to three MCC staff being sacked and charged. Premier John Brumby yesterday described the footage as disturbing and unacceptable and vowed his Government would move to ensure nothing like it happened again. The MCC is run by private contractors, the GEO Group Australia, on behalf of Victoria Police and is housed in the basement below the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. Dr Szoke said she agreed with Mr Brouwer that the MCC needed a radical overhaul. "It is absolutely unacceptable to mistreat people in this way," she said. "We are appalled at the beating shown on CCTV. "I'd remind everyone that in relation to criminal conduct, detention is the punishment, not being beaten while detained." Former MCC employees Ros Atkinson and Bruna Moressi were among five female prison officers who first complained around 2002 about brutality and bullying at the custody centre. "We told the company, we told the Ombudsman, we told Victoria Police, we told members of Parliament, and others, but the situation didn't improve," Ms Atkinson said. "The Ombudsman ... revealed the torture and brutality we were warning about is still rampant. "It pains me to think of all the people who have been mistreated there in the years since we first raised the issue. "If the authorities had listened to us, then all that suffering could have been avoided." Ms Moressi called the MCC "a hellhole where blood is shed most days". The shocking alleged incidents outlined to the Herald Sun by Ms Atkinson, Ms Moressi and an anonymous third former employee included: THE near death of a prisoner who tried to hang himself after being beaten by staff. They put wet toilet paper over the camera in his cell so their brutality couldn't be seen. A MENTALLY ill prisoner who was refused medical help despite eating and drinking his own faeces and urine for three days. A DEEPLY religious inmate who begged staff not to remove his crucifix saw it ripped from his neck and crushed in front of him before his head was slammed into a desk so hard the walls around him were sprayed with blood. A spokesman for GEO yesterday said in a statement to the Herald Sun that the allegations raised by the former employees were false. He said the women had been dismissed over the past two years for improper conduct and claimed they were raising the allegations as a means of getting back at GEO.

November 24, 2007 The Age
THE State Government has made it more difficult for independent observers to monitor what goes on in jails, lawyers claim. "It's getting harder to get information about the way the prison system operates," said Hugh de Kretser, executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres. "The Government, instead of increasing scrutiny, is going the other way," he said. This week, Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre was told it could not set up a legal clinic at Port Phillip Prison to give advice on issues such as prisoners' treatment in jail, according to the centre's principal lawyer, Philip Cottier. In the past three months, the Government had moved to restrict prisoners' rights to make freedom of information requests and given jail governors overly wide discretion to restrict prisoners' mail, Mr de Kretser said. The laws about mail were badly drafted and could potentially capture even innocent mail exchanges, he said. Corrections Victoria had recently made secret key operational procedures about how guards should deal with force and firearms, Mr de Kretser said. These procedures were previously open to public scrutiny. "If we cannot access the rules Victoria's prisons operate under, how can we hold our prisons accountable to complying with them?" he said. The criticisms follow the release of a report this week by the State Ombudsman, George Brouwer, into a violent incident at the Melbourne Custody Centre earlier this year. Mr Brouwer found that guards used excessive force against a prisoner and called for a review of the centre, which is run by a private company, the GEO Group, under the supervision of Victoria Police. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor told The Age that the custody centre was "a closed shop" with limited public scrutiny: "It's a place that no one can go. It's a de facto jail, but it's a police jail, and it's very hard to go there unless you are a lawyer or are from the Ombudsman's office." Mr de Kretser said Government monitoring of assaults by prison officers in privately run prisons was weak. "The private prison contractor and the Government have a common interest in burying the issues," he said.

November 22, 2007 The Age
A GROUP of aggressive guards known as "The Family" dominates the Melbourne Custody Centre and often uses excessive force against prisoners, an investigation by the State Ombudsman has been told. In a damning report tabled in Parliament yesterday, Ombudsman George Brouwer concluded that guards had seriously mistreated a remand prisoner being strip-searched on June 13. CCTV footage released yesterday shows the prisoner being grabbed by the throat and pushed to the ground, with several guards then piling on top of him. He received a cut to the head. Following a complaint from the prisoner, Mr Brouwer summonsed guards from the centre, an underground facility in Lonsdale Street below the Melbourne Magistrates Court. Mr Brouwer wrote: "It is of concern that witnesses spoke of a culture that involves staff favouritism; the centre being dominated by a few staff; tolerance of abuse of prisoners; and an environment where speaking out means job loss." The report quotes guards claiming that a clique nicknamed "The Family" instigated violence with prisoners and struck prisoners unnecessarily. "They thrive on aggression," one guard reported. Another claimed that prisoners were "badgered" verbally by guards with "degrading" remarks such as: "'You're a f---ing scumbucket. You deserve to be in here." A third guard said: "There's staff members that want to get at the prisoner that's on the floor simply because the prisoner wouldn't listen in the first instance." Mr Brouwer concluded that some of the staff had inappropriate attitudes, lacked proper training and failed to follow procedure. The centre is supervised by Victoria Police but is privately run by the GEO Group Australia, part of an $830 million international company with 59,000 beds in 68 jails and psychiatric hospitals in countries including the US, Canada and South Africa. The GEO Group runs four correctional facilities in Australia, including Fulham prison in Sale. Managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said yesterday that the company disagreed with the Ombudsman's report. He said CCTV images showed the prisoner being aggressive towards a guard before he was restrained. The officers involved would face disciplinary action where necessary, he said. "GEO has a policy of zero tolerance for any failure to treat any person in custody appropriately." Victoria Police said it was investigating an alleged assault at the custody centre. Mr Brouwer wrote that oversight of the centre by GEO and Victoria Police was inadequate. The person in charge of reviewing incidents was three months behind in his viewing of CCTV footage, Mr Brouwer wrote. He recommended that: ■GEO comprehensively review the centre and the suitability of the officers involved in the June incident. ■Prisoners be allowed access to phones. ■Victoria Police review its supervision. ■The centre, which lacks fresh air and daylight, should only be used to hold prisoners for short stays (some prisoners are held for up to 28 days). A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the centre's operations would be reviewed but it was impractical to limit it to being a daytime holding facility. Installing a phone system for prisoners would be almost impossible but the problem would be examined further. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor told The Age that some previous complaints of violence at the centre could not be investigated properly because CCTV footage had not been available due to "alleged system failure".

November 22, 2007 The Age
Victoria's government watchdog has recommended sweeping changes to conditions at the Melbourne Custody Centre following publication of a report that found excessive force was used against a prisoner earlier this year. Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer tabled his report on the incident in Parliament today and has made CCTV footage of the incident available on his website. The video shows the prisoner, identified by the ombudsman as Mr A, being subjected to an apparently unprovoked attack by custody officers in the MCC's strip-search room on June 13. The prisoner removes his shoes and shirt before one of two officers appears to suddenly grab him by the throat. Both officers then throw Mr A to the ground before four other officers enter the room. The prisoner, who had not been charged with an offence at the time of the attack, lodged a complaint with the ombudsman about one week after the incident. Mr Brouwer found one officer had "over-reacted" and another, a female officer, had cut the prisoner by striking him to the head. The company that is contracted to run the MCC by the State Government, GEO Group Australia, has agreed to discipline two officers following a recommendation from the ombudsman that their employment be reviewed. A third officer criticised by the ombudsman was overseas when the report was being written. Victoria Police are also investigating whether charges should be laid against any of the officers. GEO Australia has told the ombudsman it will review training programs for all its staff in conjunction with Victoria Police. Mr Brouwer's report is also scathing about MCC prisoners' lack of access to telephones. The custody centre, located beneath the Melbourne Magistrates Court, is used to detain people who have been arrested and are due to appear in court. Mr Brouwer's report says those in custody are unable to contact legal representatives or his office - an anomaly in Victoria's prison system. "The MCC appears to operate with only limited oversight by both GEO and Victoria Police and in my opinion the system in place to monitor incidents is unsatisfactory," Mr Brouwer's report says. In the ombudsman's annual report published in September, Mr Brouwer's office raised concerns about conditions at the MCC and about a lack of video footage of alleged assaults occurring there. The September report said the MCC was holding detainees in unsuitable conditions for periods of up to four weeks. "I have received complaints from prisoners about their treatment by custodial staff, particularly allegations of assault," the report said.

August 15, 2007 The Age
GUARDS did not step in as a prisoner bashed another inmate — at one stage wiping blood from his boots with a towel before continuing to kick his victim in the head as he lay on the ground — in a brutal 14- minute attack at the Melbourne Custody Centre on September 9, 2005. A video recording of the incident was tendered to the County Court yesterday as Jim Giannakoulis, 33, formerly of Altona North, pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally causing serious injury. Prosecutor Paul D'Arcy said the graphic footage showed Giannakoulis punching and kicking the victim, Boak Nguyen, in the head and body, slamming his head on the ground and jumping on it as he lay in the centre's exercise yard. Nguyen, who did not lodge a complaint about the incident, suffered cracked ribs, fractured cheekbones, bruises and cuts. Outside court, a spokeswoman for the GEO Group, which runs the Melbourne Custody Centre, said the company was fined under its contract "as a result of the time it took to respond". She said a figure of $75,000 quoted in court was "way over" the correct amount, which she would not disclose. "The delay was due to the fact that on the day they were installing a new closed-circuit TV system," she said. "The attack happened where they couldn't see, the other prisoners didn't react and there was nothing to suggest there was anything going on. The GEO staff intervened as soon as the incident was detected."

May 28, 2007 The Age
A car-theft suspect who went on the run after a prison mix-up led to her being released in place of another woman has appeared in court. Caroline Musadeq, 31, of Niddrie, this morning faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on a charge of escaping a police jail after being recaptured yesterday. Magistrate William O'Day remanded Musadeq in custody and ordered her to reappear on June 2. She did not apply for bail. Musadeq allegedly escaped from the Melbourne Custody Centre on May 18. Officers arrested and charged her about 3pm yesterday after spotting her in a car in Brighton Road in St Kilda. She and a 25-year-old woman charged with armed robbery were in the cells at the Lonsdale Street centre when the Musadeq was released on bail instead of the other woman. It is believed that the younger woman pretended to be asleep while Musadeq assumed her identity and was released. Police said in a statement last week that the younger woman could be charged with aiding and abetting an escape, and that Musadeq was not considered a risk. "The Melbourne Custody Centre is staffed by private contractors to Victoria Police," the statement said. "An internal inquiry is under way into operational procedures at the centre to avoid similar occurrences in the future." The GEO Group Australia administers the custody centre. Under its previous name of Australasian Correctional Management, it managed the Woomera Detention Centre and was subjected to federal inquiries.

May 22, 2007 Herald Sun
A PRISONER has walked out of the Melbourne Custody Centre after assuming another remanded woman's identity. The escapee tricked staff by swapping clothes with another inmate due to be released on bail, and changing her hairstyle to match hers. Custody centre sources said the woman, who was still free last night, had gone to some effort to escape. She also used the other woman's documents and learned personal details about her. The escapee, whose identity has not been revealed, walked to freedom about 4.30pm last Friday. Police said they would not reveal her details because the escaped woman, facing car-theft charges, was not considered dangerous. The Herald Sun has been told she is a 31-year-old Pacific Islander. "The woman has not been located and is not considered a risk to the community," a police spokeswoman said. Investigators have interviewed the other woman, 25, for allegedly aiding and abetting an escape. It is believed custody centre staff followed correct procedure but were still duped by the escapee, who was said to look similar to the woman whose identity she assumed. "Staff did everything by the book but these two (prisoners) cohorted to do this," a custody centre source alleged. The centre is staffed by private contractors. "An internal inquiry is under way into operational procedures at the centre to avoid similar occurrence in the future," the police spokeswoman said. The custody centre, which is under Melbourne Magistrates' Court in Lonsdale St, is run by the GEO Group Australia, formerly Australasian Correctional Management. GEO operations manager Peter Earnshaw confirmed the group was carrying out its own investigation and changes to procedures would be made if necessary. It is not the first time a person has been let free by mistake from the privately run centre. In July 2001, a man with convictions for aggravated burglary and drug matters was freed, despite having time to serve for breaching parole on a separate crime. Two months earlier, a convicted sex offender was mistakenly released despite having breached parole for a previous crime.

November 18, 2004 Herald Sun
A MELBOURNE police jail has been described as a hellhole and "the Bronx of prisons". The privately-run Melbourne Custody Centre is overcrowded, poorly managed and occasionally dangerous, according to disgruntled staff. Five women custody officers are on long-term stress leave because of what they claim are intolerable working conditions. Their complaints include sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, victimisation, intimidation and poor treatment of inmates. They say the centre is understaffed and custody officers deal with inmates who are often drunk, violent, drugged or mentally disturbed. The centre, which is beneath Melbourne Magistrates' Court in Lonsdale St, is run by the GEO Group Australia, formerly Australasian Correctional Management. ACM, an offshoot of an American corrections giant, has a troubled history in Australia. There were federal government inquiries and penalties over the way it ran Woomera Detention Centre. The company also runs Fulham Correctional Centre. In May last year, Corrections Minister Andre Haermeyer began a probe into the company's operations.
Bruna Moressi, one of the corrections officers on stress leave, said working at the centre became a nightmare. "Melbourne Custody Centre is mismanaged through and through," Ms Moressi said. "None of the staff have training with psych patients and the centre is not properly equipped to deal with these people," Ms Moressi said. Seriously disturbed inmates are often kept in cells with their wrists and ankles in handcuffs because staff have no other way of controlling them. Anne Chiang said she cracked under the pressure of working in the centre. She witnessed the inhumane treatment of a psychiatrically disturbed woman. "I complained. I sent a report up to head office and to the police monitor. I asked for an investigation, but nothing happened," she said.

May 29, 2002
Charges against Victoria's top prison official were dropped yesterday over an incident in which he allegedly threatened to discipline a custody officer. The Victorian WorkCover Authority withdrew a charge of failing to take reasonable care of an employee's health and safety against John Ralph Myers, the state's senior Australasian Correctional Management official. Mr Myers, who pleaded not guilty, was alleged to have threatened custody officer Wayne Rowe when he complained to WorkCover and the Community and Public Sector Union about staff shortages at the Melbourne Custody Centre. A WorkCover spokeswoman said the charges were withdrawn because Mr Myers had been charged as an employee putting another employee at risk, while evidence in court pointed to an employer-employee relationship. Mr Rowe, 47, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court he suffered insomnia and anxiety long after the alleged incident. Mr Myers, 42, of Sale, said that Mr Rowe should have raised his concerns with centre management before contacting outside organisations for advice. (The Age)

May 31, 2001
A man left with permanent brain damage after being bashed in a prison cell has issued a Supreme Court writ seeking damages from the company running the Melbourne Custody centre.  Michael Tully, aged 45, was bashed and stomped on by another prisoner, Ali Ali, who was consequently jailed for at least 13 years.  The writ's been issued by Mr. Tully's brother Rod, on his behalf and seeks unspecified damages from the prison operator, Australasian Correctional Management.  (ABC News) 

December 11, 2000
Michael Tully was told by his brother Rod that the man who viciously bashed him while they shared a small cell under the Melbourne Magistrates Court was yesterday sentenced to 16 years in jail. The former prison guard confirmed he would take legal action against Australian Correctional Management, the private managers of the Melbourne Custody Centre. He will allege the managers were negligent in not appropriately classifying his brother, who has schizophrenia, so as to ensure he was separated from the mainstream population. The court told Ali was returned to Cell 28, where he directed a prisoner to place a sticky label from a lunch box over the surveillance camera. He then knocked Mr. Tully to the ground, so that his head rested on a cement bench and stomped on it about five times. Judge Anderson described the incident, which took place last April, as a "cowardly attack on a defenseless man". He also said the overcrowded conditions in the cells were "entirely inappropriate". Judge Anderson said Ali had counted on the prison culture of silence, but the attack was so brutal it had sicken other prisoners although they did not intervene in the assault. (The Age Company Ltd., Dec. 6, 2000)

Melbourne Immigration Transit Accomodation Facility
Broadmeadows, Ausltralia
Secro
May 28, 2017 theage.com.au

Guard jailed for kissing asylum seeker at detention centre
A former security guard is serving a one-month jail sentence for kissing an asylum seeker at a Melbourne immigration detention centre. Theivigan Panchalingham, 37, was previously a Serco guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre in Broadmeadows. Panchalingham, a refugee, is understood to have called the asylum seeker into his office at the detention centre between July and August, 2015. The woman complied and closed the door as she entered. He offered her some food and tapped his thigh, in what she believed to be a gesture to sit on his lap. She asked if she could leave the room. He helped her to open the door and kissed her on the cheek as she left. Magistrate Meaghan Keogh earlier this month found the man guilty of one count of sexual assault for the kiss. Ms Keogh said that while the assault was not the "most extreme", the woman was not free to leave detention or complain, making her "the most vulnerable type of victim". "Because those people rely on you to ensure their safety it does make this offending behaviour a breach of trust of the most serious type," she said. She also questioned Serco's failure to intervene after the guard sexually assaulted a fellow guard a year earlier, which she said could have prevented the more recent assault. The asylum seeker told the court in a victim impact statement that she became afraid of most of the guards after the assault. She stayed in her room most of the time, sleeping only two to three hours each night. "It has made me feel very unsafe and that rules and laws in Australia can't protect me. I feel I have no power, I have nothing to support myself, no one can make me feel safer," she said. The woman, who has been living in the community since December, said she still had nightmares and was afraid of anyone who resembled Panchalingham. Ms Keogh also said that Serco guards sent a clear message to detainees about what was acceptable in Australia through their actions, and he had undermined the woman's respect for the law. She told Panchalingham that detainees were "fleeing all sorts of situations in their home countries and they're coming to another country where they hope they'll be allowed to live freely and with the protection of the law and that is something that you yourself have experienced," she said. In the earlier 2014 incident, he kissed a colleague who was his junior on the mouth when they were en route to a Melbourne hospital for work, the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court heard. His colleague yelled at him and later told her manager what happened but asked him not to make an official report, thinking that her yelling at the guard would prevent future attacks. Ms Keogh said that Serco may have lost an opportunity to deal with the man's behaviour early on. He pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault in relation to this incident, for which Ms Keogh sentenced him to an 18-month community corrections order. The order, which is to be served after his prison term, includes 200 hours' community service and participation in a sex offender program. Defence counsel Shaun Pascoe told the court that the Tamil man was previously a journalist for a number of Tamil newspapers in Sri Lanka during the country's civil war, where he witnessed a bombing and other violence. He said he came to Australia to study business administration at La Trobe University and later obtained a humanitarian visa to stay in Australia because he feared that his anti-government stance would put his safety at risk if he returned to Sri Lanka. Mr Pascoe said his client had already lost his job at Serco and significant standing in the local Tamil community as a result of the allegations. He unsuccessfully argued that he should receive a community corrections order without conviction for both his crimes.

Sep 24, 2016 abc.net.au
Former guard at Melbourne immigration centre faces court over sexual assault allegations
A former Serco guard at a Melbourne immigration centre has faced court over multiple charges of sexual assault against an Iranian detainee and fellow guards. Theivigan 'Dave' Panchalingham is accused of three counts of intentionally touching a detainee in a sexual manner without her consent, and three of indecently assaulting two female co-workers. Mr Panchalingham was employed by Serco as a guard at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA). He was sacked by Serco in December after the allegations of sexual assault were made against him. He is accused of kissing the female detainee on the cheek and stroking her thigh and face in a sexual manner and without her consent. Mr Panchalingham is also accused of asking a co-worker if he could massage her breasts and of pulling another colleague down onto him so that her breasts were in his face. In February, the ABC revealed that one of the alleged victims had disclosed the sexual assaults to a mental health nurse at the immigration centre and two days later Victoria Police took a statement from her. The alleged offences took place between 2014 and 2015. When the allegations against Mr Panchalingham were first revealed, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said that a security officer had been immediately stood down from duty and the alleged victim had been provided with medical support. The case will be heard over five days at the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court in February.

November 15, 2010 ABC
Overcrowding has been blamed for a violent brawl involving about 50 children at a Melbourne detention facility. The Immigration Department does not call it a detention centre, but the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation facility in Broadmeadows is one of the sites the department uses to hold hundreds of unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum in Australia. Last week there were 43 boys there, but another 98 were flown in from Christmas Island on the weekend. On Sunday night tensions flared up and police were called in to stop what the department says was a series of scuffles involving 50 mostly Afghan detainees. Seven people suffered minor injuries in the brawl and one is still in hospital. The department says police and the detention contractor, Serco, are investigating the fight and charges may be laid against those involved. Refugee advocate Nicole Mousley, who visited the centre a week ago, says the brawl was probably the result of overcrowding. "From what I saw, I don't think that centre is equipped to deal with that many boys," she said. "The common room is not designed to hold that many people. "The boys were telling me they were a bit concerned about the new people coming and weren't sure what was going to happen once everybody got there. "The boys actually told me they thought they would be kept separate from the new arrivals for a while. "So if the new arrivals have been put in straight away and expected to share the common area, I think then maybe some of the boys who have been there previously have been a bit surprised by that." The Broadmeadows centre is one of several which the Federal Government recently expanded. 'Pressure cooker' -- Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the violence is a sign the Government's asylum seeker policies are failing. "We have now more than 5,000 people in detention across the country. We have more than 75 per cent of those people having been in detention now for more than three months," he said. "When you have an all-time record of people arriving illegally by boat, all piling into detention centres and creating the pressure-cooker environment we are seeing, then it is inevitable these violent incidents and many more will follow, regrettably." Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan says he is concerned by the situation. "We are concerned about ensuring the centre remains in order, remains calm and that we are in control, which we are," he said. "These are all young men, all minors under the age of 18 who were involved in the disturbance. It was a series of scuffles. We believe focusing around access to computers, but we've still really to get to the bottom of that." Mr Logan says the capacity of the centre is 150 and he is confident it can comfortably house that many. He denies there are inadequate facilities for the 136 boys now there. "We are confident Serco, the detention services provider, is able to manage the accommodation and the good order of the centre," he said.

May 15, 2010 Sidney Morning Herald
Three people have been taken to hospital after up to 30 teenage asylum seekers brawled at a Melbourne accommodation centre. The fight broke out at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation facility in Broadmeadows at 9.30pm (AEST) on Friday after an argument between two groups got out of control. A Department of Immigration spokesperson said staff had the brawl under control before police arrived. Two teenagers who suffered cuts to their upper bodies have been released from hospital. Another is waiting to be treated. The facility houses family groups and unaccompanied minors. Police are investigating the incident while the private contractor which runs the centre, Serco, is also investigating. The immigration department says the facility, which holds 50 people, remains calm. The spokesperson would not reveal the nationalities of the teenagers in the brawl.

Melbourne Remand Center

Melbourne, Australia
GEO Group
July 23, 2013 au.news.yahoo
Victorian prison nurses are holding two-hour stop work meetings this week in their campaign for better pay and conditions. The nurses have voted to escalate protected industrial action as negotiations for a new pay agreement with prison operator GEO Care Australia reach their 19th month. They will stage two-hour stop work meetings at Melbourne Assessment Prison on Tuesday and Friday. Four-hour stop work meetings will be held at the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat on Thursday and next Tuesday. The nurses, employed in medical clinics in 11 Victorian jails, have been taking protected industrial action, including bans on manual filing and overtime, since last Thursday. They are seeking better penalty rates, annual leave and long service leave conditions.

 

Jun 19, 2013 ncah.com.au

Victorian prison nurses are taking protected industrial action in their fight for better wages and conditions. About 60 nurses held two-hour stop work rallies today outside four prisons across the state after talks broke down between the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch and prison health care provider GEO Care Australia. Nurses rallied at Lara’s Barwon Prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Ravenhall, which included nurses from the Melbourne Remand Centre, the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat and Loddon Prison in Castlemaine. Nurses have also enforced nine-hour administrative bans at the five prisons, with the bans also stretching to the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne, Beechworth Correctional Centre, Dhurringile Prison in Murchison, Langi Kal Kal Prison in Trawalla, the Marngoneet Correctional Centre in Lara and Maldon’s Tarrengower Prison. The ANF Vic Branch has called on GEO Care Australia to return to the negotiating table, after a stalemate was reached following 18 months of negotiations. Nurses are rallying for a 2.5 per cent pay rise, backdated to July 2012 – the date the current agreement expired. The nurses also want GEO Care Australia to provide standard health industry entitlements. The union states the company does not pay nurses standard penalty rates for working on public holidays. And the ANF says the non-payment of annual leave loading and long service leave entitlements of eight weeks at 10 years means the nurses’ entitlements are significantly lower than nurses in the public or private health system. “Nurses only ever take industrial action as a last resort and nurses employed by GEO Care Australia believe that they've exhausted all other avenues to negotiate reasonable wages and conditions that reflect health industry standards,” ANF Vic Branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.


Melaleuca women's jail
Canning Vale, Western Australia
May 12, 2017 skynews.com.au
Australia: Sodexo put on notice
Private prison operator Sodexo has been put on notice over poor management and repeated contract breaches. Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan says he has put private prison operator Sodexo on notice over repeated contract breaches and claims the Melaleuca women's jail is so poorly run that lawyers visiting inmates feel unsafe there. Legal Aid WA has stopped its lawyers from visiting the prison less than five months after it was opened because of safety fears. The $24 million prison was opened by the previous Liberal National government last December, with French company Sodexo offered $15,000 bonuses for every inmate who stays out of jail for two years after being released. Legal Aid's issues relate to what it sees as poor standards and discipline at the 254-bed Melaleuca Women's Remand and Reintegration Facility. It claims its lawyers were not being given duress alarms and put in dangerous situations, with other inmates standing around and guards not present when they have been meeting with prisoners and they have also had trouble contacting clients to prepare legal defences. AAP has been told of serious problems with violence and drugs at the prison but Legal Aid is yet to comment. Sodexo denies the 'unsubstantiated allegations in relation to security practices'. Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan, Criminal Lawyers Association of WA president Genevieve Cleary and Community and Public Sector Union WA secretary Toni Walkington came out to strongly criticise Sodexo and the way it is running the prison. Mr Logan said Sodexo had already been fined $25,000 three times for contract breaches, he had put the company 'on notice' and ordered that it's generous contract be examined. 'There are KPIs within the contract that they have to comply with ... in exchange for a generous payment from the taxpayers of Western Australia and I am going to make sure they comply with that contract,' he said. Sodexo said in a statement that it met with Legal Aid on Thursday and it would continue to work with stakeholders to assess performance and implement any improvements at Melaleuca. 'The meeting was extremely positive and it is anticipated that the visits will resume shortly,' it said.

Metropolitan Remand Center
Ravenhall, Australia
GEO Group

Jun 13, 2013 bordermail.com.au

Nurses in 10 Victorian prisons will take limited strike action from Tuesday, in a pay dispute with the private operator that employs them. Prison nurses have been negotiating with prisons outsourcing company the GEO Group for 18 months, after their workplace agreement expired last June. About 60 of these nurses have now threatened to take strike action. Among planned industrial actions are a two-hour stop-work meeting on Tuesday; bans on all filing duties and collection of statistical data; no working in higher duties; no overtime; a ban on receiving some phone calls; and the wearing of campaign T-shirts, badges and stickers. The bans will apply at 10 prisons, including the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne; the Metropolitan Remand Centre and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Ravenhall; Beechworth Correctional Centre; and the Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. The last wage increase nurses in the GEO Group's prisons received was in January 2011. The union that represents nurses argues that the company is offering a pay increase of just 2.5 per cent a year. But GEO Group spokesman Ken Davis said the company was offering a rise of 15.4 per cent over four years. This amounts to a packaged increase of 3.85 per cent a year. He said the company valued its nursing staff and their work in Victoria's prison system, and hoped to avert industrial action. Nursing staff at the prisons have already voted down one offer GEO has made to them. The strike threat follows what the nurses' union last year termed an "industrial marathon" run by Victoria's nurses, ending last March after nine months of strikes and work bans. The Australian Nursing Federation argues the GEO Group will be unable to maintain a stable nursing workforce if its current conditions continue, as staff will go to workplaces that have better conditions and are less stressful. The union's Victorian secretary, Lisa Fitzpatrick, said negotiations had broken down over back pay and the introduction of some entitlements she said were standard for all other Victorian nurses. "[The entitlements] are way below health industry standard and this is impacting on recruitment and retention," Ms Fitzpatrick said. "Nurses working in our prison system have very low morale ... Working in a prison medical clinic is an extremely challenging job." She said the GEO Group did not pay health industry standard penalty rates to nurses working on public holidays, as well as not paying some annual leave loading and long-service leave entitlements other nurses received.

Metropolitan Women's Correctional Center
Deer Park, Australia
CCA
September 10, 2002
A Melbourne coroner yesterday cleared the former private operators of Deer Park women's prison of wrongdoing over the death of a 23-year-old Aboriginal inmate four years ago.  Coroner Jacinta Heffey found that the Corrections Corporation of Australia did not contribute to the death of Paula Rebecca Richardson, who died as a result of a "simulated suicide that went wrong" on September 11, 1998.  The inquest heard that Ms. Richardson, who was in jail for breaching parole, hanged herself at the Metropolitan Women's Correctional Centre a day after the State Government launched a review of prison safety.  In July, 1998, two male and two female prison officers strip-searched Ms. Richardson and cut her clothes with a knife after she concealed a drink can believed to be used as a water pipe for smoking marijuana.  Outside court, Ms. Richardson's father, Barry, said the coroner's decision was "contemptible".  "It's beyond my dignity to really get angry about it," he said.  "My faith in the system of justice... is just destroyed."  Lawyers for Ms. Richardson's family earlier told the inquest that the strip search was inappropriate and insensitive, as Ms. Richardson had been raped five times in the past- the last instance while working as a prostitute shortly before her incarceration in April, 1998.  Ms. Richardson's mother, Ruth, said it was "very sad for Victoria" that Ms. Heffey had not recommended changes to strip-search procedures, but said she hoped conditions had improved since the State Government took over the running of the prison in October, 2000.  The inquest was told that despite Ms. Richardson buzzing an intercom to prison officers 27 times in 20 minutes before she died, nobody came to her aid.  (The Age)

October 3, 2000
The Victorian Government took control of the facility after sacking the jail's private operators. The dramatic action follows a damning report that found prison operators CCA had breached their contract with the government in relation to security and drug protection. Corrections Minister Andre Haermeyer said drug abuse a Deer Park was the worst in the state, with one in four prisoners using illegal drugs. CPSU spokesman Julian Kennelly said staff were "stressed to the max" dealing with 30 inmates to one officer on a daily basis and prisoners were being denied access to basic prison programs as well. Amanda George, of the Federation of Community Legal Centers, said almost 25 percent were in protection units, compared with about 2 percent in prisons in other states. Victorian Uniting Church social justice leader, the Reverend David Pargeter, said the private operators had been "nothing short of disastrous."

Mount Eden Prison, Mount Eden, New Zealand
May 27, 2017 radionz.co.nz

Prison safety concerns after Serco's latest loss

Serco New Zealand lost $10.5 million last year as the consequences of losing its Mt Eden Prison contract continued to bite. Accounts filed with the Companies Office show the winding up of the contract that it lost in 2015 cost it a further $3.2m in 2016. Serco's finances were also hit by lower revenues, higher staff costs and its first income tax bill in three years. Revenue for the 12 months to the end of December fell 18 percent to $52.1m, while staff costs increased 9 percent to $43.8m. It also had to pay $4.3m in income tax after receiving tax credits in 2015 and 2014. An "onerous contract provision" of $3.2m was also provided for to account for the costs incurred in the concluding period of the Mt Eden contract. A $30m loan from its British parent Serco Group, by way of two separate equity raisings during 2016, "strengthened" the company's finances, Serco New Zealand said in a statement. This saw 30m new shares in Serco New Zealand being bought by Serco Group for $1 each. Serco Group also guaranteed financial support for its New Zealand arm until at least the end of 2017. Serco lost $10.9m in 2015 after it was penalised and stripped from its contract to run Mt Eden Correctional Facility. It lost $2.6m in 2014. Three years of losses were worrying, Labour Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said. "It means they're probably going to cut costs and corners when it comes to running the prison ... I've concerns then for staff safety, I've concerns for prisoner safety and the safety of the community." Serco New Zealand was two years into a 25-year contract to run the Kohuroa Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri, which was jointly owned by InfraRed Capital Partners, John Laing Investments and ACC. Serco Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said Serco continued to support the government's goals to reduce reoffending and create better outcomes for Māori. "Our focus across the prison is to achieve the outcomes that we are contracted to deliver on behalf of New Zealanders. Our contract sets clear performance standards, expects us to achieve significant savings for government and holds us accountable if we don't deliver. Our people are part of the communities we serve, and our aim is to make those communities safer, better places." The prison officers' union says it will be seeking assurance from Serco no jobs will be lost, in light of the financial loss. The president of the Corrections Association, Alan Whitley, said his concern now was that the company may look at recovering costs by laying off staff.


Dec 17, 2016 tvnz.co.nz
Corrections has been forced to pay about $2 million to put up extra Mt Eden jail staff in an Auckland hotel.
Up to 40 guards at a time have been staying in the four-and-a-half star Adina Apartment Hotel over 18 months, but Corrections says it's getting a good deal. A discounted rate had been negotiated, which hasn't been revealed, and the department wasn't paying the $400 a night other hotels would have charged, northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns told RNZ today. "I think it is a good use of taxpayers' money to look after your staff decently to run a safe and secure prison." More staff were needed because of higher prisoner numbers at Mt Eden. Some of the cost was coming out of the $8m settlement paid when Corrections took back the running of the remand facility from private contractor Serco, she said. Corrections was recruiting new staff and the hotel arrangement would not be needed when they started work.

Dec 9, 2015 telegraphvoice.com
New Zealand to end Serco's management of Auckland prison
UPDATED 4.07PM: Private prison operator Serco's contract to run Mt Eden Corrections Facility will not be renewed. "The contract allowed for non-renewal after six years and I have been briefed on the reasons behind this decision", Mr Lotu-Iiga says. "In July this year I invoked the step-in clause in the contract, effectively giving management of the prison to Corrections". However, I fully support the decision he has made. "Since then, Corrections has been working to remedy issues staff have identified". We agree, and would be delighted if you could provide the facts contained within the two Inspectors reports into MECF; part one was due on October 30th and part two on November 30th. The resulting report is now subject to a judicial review, which Serco sought on the basis that it didn't have sufficient opportunity to comment on and respond to it. "Ministers will receive advice from Corrections on options for the future management of MECF early next year", said Lotu-Iiga, who will have relinquished a portfolio where he was seen to have floundered to Judith Collins, who is returning to Cabinet in a reshuffle announced this week. Mrs Collins declined to speak to NBR about the move on the basis that she's not yet corrections minister - although yesterday she was happy address Serco bosses via The Paul Henry Show, telling them to "Front up, come and meet me, we'll go through things - I'll probably go and meet you before you get a chance to come and meet me". Mr Smith said they'd been in charge of Mt Eden for around five months and they'd expect to be there for longer. That sparked a raft of other allegations about poor management and bad behaviour at the prison, and Serco's been under pressure ever since. Serco representatives have met with Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga to discuss their running of the prison. Labour's Kelvin Davis says the decision is a "humiliation" for the Government and proof privatisation doesn't work. Smith spoke to Serco's Asia Pacific chief executive last night, and the focus on both sides is to manage the transition carefully. He believes Serco's contract to run the Wiri prison should be cancelled as well. "Its population, movements and security profile are all markedly different from those set out in the documents provided to tenderers six years ago, and in the contract itself", he said. The department said the allegations of organised fights had been classified as a significant disorder event, which led to the performance downgrade.

Dec 7, 2015 stuff.co.nz
Private prison operator Serco has been the Corrections Minister's worst nightmare
Private prison operator Serco has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year and the Corrections Minister is now a casualty. Rising from the ashes (or more specifically, the back bench) is former Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who is picking up the problem-plagued portfolio, while also taking Police off her over-loaded colleague, Michael Woodhouse. It was Collins, who in 2010, reintroduced private operators to New Zealand's prisons, which began with Mt Eden Correctional Facility. Mt Eden is now being run by the Corrections Department following serious allegations of prisoner mistreatment, including fight clubs and claims prisoners were being dropped off balconies, at the then Serco-run facility. It was Labour's corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis who brought much of the controversy at Mt Eden to light and consequently he was rewarded with a boost up his party's rankings and additional responsibilities. Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga denied the move to put Corrections in charge was one of "no-confidence" in Serco, which has continued to run the Wiri prison in south Auckland. But the blows continued for Lotu-Iiga and just last month it was revealed Serco had gone to the High Court claiming it hadn't been given enough time to comment or respond to the findings of a report into alleged fight clubs. The report was due to have already been released but the high number of complaints from prisoners and their families meant it was given an extension and High Court action will only further stall its release. As a result of failings at Mt Eden, which also include issues around contraband and a staff member being suspended after being caught on camera sparring with an inmate, Serco is facing more than $1 million in fines. Cancelling the contract with Serco was still an option according to both Lotu-Iiga and Prime Minister John Key but that decision wouldn't be made until the review at Mt Eden was completed. Lotu-Iiga, a former Auckland councillor, will take on the Local Government portfolio, currently held by Paula Bennett, which signals he didn't do a good enough job with Corrections but didn't perform badly enough to be pushed out of Cabinet.

Dec 2, 2015 stuff.co.nz
Serco-run Mt Eden prison falls to bottom of Corrections rankings
Private operator Serco, which runs Auckland's Mt Eden prison, says it disagrees with the latest prison rankings placing it at the bottom. Privately-run Mt Eden prison has fallen to the bottom of New Zealand's prison rankings after months of scandal over "fight clubs" and alleged mistreatment of prisoners. In the Department of Corrections' most recent prison performance tables, for the 12 months to June 2015, the Serco-run Mt Eden corrections facility is at the bottom of the rankings - in the "needs improvement" category. The performance tables are meant to monitor and evaluate prisons' performances every three months, based on their security, internal procedures, and rehabilitation rates. Mt Eden's fall comes after it was rated "exceptional" in five previous performance tables stretching back to March 2014. Allegations of organised fight clubs and contraband issues emerged after recordings of incidents at Mt Eden were posted online, while a number of inmates have also made accusations of mistreatment The Department of Corrections took over control of the prison in July after the allegations were revealed. Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said Mt Eden's "nose-dive" in the latest rankings put a question mark of previous plaudits for its performance. "I don't accept that between March and June of this year, that everything just went pear-shaped - I'd say that it's been pear-shaped for a long time, they just weren't on top of the situation." Davis said Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and his department had been guilty of "wilful blindness" regarding problems at the prison. "You know, hear no evil, see no evil, just pretending that things were going fine when they obviously weren't." In a statement, Serco operations director Scott McNairn said the company did not accept its latest rating, and claimed Corrections did not give it a chance to review the latest tables before they were published. In September, 3 News revealed the private prison operator was facing more than $1 million in fines for shortcomings at Mt Eden, such as failing to keep serious assaults down and unlawful detention. Last month, Serco announced it was challenging a report into the alleged fight clubs in the High Court, claiming it had not been given enough time to comment or respond to its findings.

Nov 25, 2015 odt.co.nz

Prison going to court over fight club claims

Private prison operator Serco is going to the High Court to challenge ongoing allegations of having organised fight clubs among inmates in Auckland's troubled Mount Eden prison. The prison operator was fighting the accusations made in a draft report completed by Prison Inspectorate last month, Radio New Zealand reported today. It was revealed Serco did not think they "had enough opportunity to comment and respond", a High Court document obtained by the broadcaster stated. The draft was completed in two parts by Radio New Zealand. The first looked at the brawl itself and whether a fight club was operating at the prison. The second part wanted to look into Serco's protocol of violent inmates and how the prisoners were getting cellphones.


Nov 1, 2015  New Zealand
Serco 'harangued' beaten prisoner

Serco's operation of Mt Eden Prison in Auckland is again being called into question. It comes after a French prisoner was assaulted and then returned to the mainstream prison, where he was assaulted a second time. Labour's corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis says the private prison operator then turned the blame on the man. "What makes this particularly distasteful is the way the Serco management went in there while the guy was still in ICU and basically harangued him. I just find that totally unacceptable." He said they should have left the man to recover. "It just shows their corporate nous. It's just totally wrong, on all levels."


Sep 10, 2015 stuff.co.nz

Documents released to 3 News show Mt Eden Corrections Facility operator Serco is facing more than $1m in fines.

FAIRFAX NZ Prime Minister John Key hasn't ruled out cancelling private prison operator Serco's contract once investigations are complete. Key said the good thing about private operators was the Government had the "capacity to fine them". "And they have a whole host of reasons why they can be fined." Serco is facing more than $1 million in fines for its failings at Mt Eden Corrections Facility. Documents released to 3 News under the Official Information Act show Serco has been charged a range of fines during the past 12 months for not doing its job properly and the costs could continue to mount. Key said while the fines looked "quite big" Serco earn "quite a lot off the contract and there is lots of moving parts to that". Corrections stepped in to take over management at the corrections facility after reports of "fight clubs" and contraband at the prison. While investigations continue into Serco's running of Mt Eden Key said "all the options are on the table". "That includes increasing fines, them going back and cancellation of the the contract - they're all still on the table". Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said public opinion was something taken into account in who ran prisons, but the Government was contractually bound to Serco. "We've got a contract with Serco at Mt Eden, and Wiri, and we're bound by that." Cancelling the contract with Serco was still an option, with Lotu-Iiga adding "all options are on the table". Decisions could not be made until the review at the troubled Mt Eden prison had been completed, Lotu-Iiga said. "I think it's prudent for us as a government to wait for those reviews to be completed and make those decisions then. "Cancellation is always on the table in terms of the options that are available to us." Serco is paid about $31.5m a year to run the prison. About $3m of that is made up of performance bonuses and fines can only be deducted from that, 3 News reported. Failing to control prisoners to ensure a safe jail cost Serco $50,000, unlawfully mixing inmates cost $100,000, not meeting incident reporting targets and other contractual requirements cost $150,000, according to the news agency. The biggest fine Serco has received was more than $315,000 for failing to keep serious assaults down. The first set of fines total $615,000, but the list keeps going. Since the videos of fight-club style brawls involving Mt Eden prisoners surfaced in July, Serco has received almost $500,000 more in penalty notices. The recent fines include unlawful detention, $25,000; failing to meet education targets, $50,000; failing to ensure prisoner safety and welfare, $200,000; breach of contract for serious assault rates, $50,000; and a death in custody, $150,000, 3 News reported. During the past year Serco has been hit with $1,090,000 in fines but the prison is yet to be fined over allegations of fight clubs and contraband. Key said he had confidence in Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga to do the job and establish exactly what went wrong at Mt Eden.

Aug 25, 2015
radionz.co.nz
Guard helped inmates with fighting technique

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga has revealed that a prison guard helped inmates with their fighting techniques in Mt Eden prison. Labour said the situation at Mt Eden was getting beyond a joke and is further proof that a fully independent inquiry is needed. At the weekend, private prison company Serco confirmed a staff member was suspended after being caught on security footage fighting with an inmate. Neither the company nor the Corrections Department would comment further while the Chief Inspectorate of Prisons was investigating the running of Mount Eden. Mr Lotu-Liga said the staff member was not fighting with an inmate. "[The footage] shows a prison guard on CCTV footage approaching a group of prisoners who were sparring, he then gives them some coaching on their technique. "Sparring is a banned activity and Serco was shown the footage on the sixth of August. Serco have suspended the staff member while the investigation proceeds." Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the situation with Serco has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. "The Minister's statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques to inmates is completely shambolic. "An independent inquiry is the only way forward as I have no confidence whatsoever in the findings of any inquiry conducted by Corrections or Serco." Mr Davis said he was continuing to get letters about allegations of abuse and mistreatment in prisons some of which he had passed on to the police.

Mt Eden prison officer suspended after fighting with inmate

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. A staff member at the troubled Mt Eden private prison has been suspended after being caught on camera sparring with an inmate. The CCTV footage that led to the officer's downfall shows the staff member being "knocked out", a prison source said. Staff fighting with inmates is just the latest controversy to hit the prison, operated by British company Serco. The Department of Corrections has seized control of Mt Eden following a string of revelations including concerns over prisoner safety and inmates taking part in organised "fight clubs", then posting the footage to the internet via contraband cellphones. It is understood the footage was not a cellphone recording, but was discovered as part of the review into Mt Eden being carried out by the Prison Inspectorate and the Ombudsman. A Serco spokeswoman confirmed the officer had been suspended after being caught on security camera footage fighting with a prisoner. The staff member would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing. "The safety and security of staff, prisoners and visitors in Mt Eden Corrections Facility is paramount and we have zero tolerance for violence." Serco refused to answer questions about when the footage was from and if it had informed Corrections about the incident appropriately. Similarly, Corrections Northern Regional Commissioner Jeanette Burns refused to say when the department had been informed of the footage. No comment would be made until the review was completed, she said. Labour Party justice spokesman Kelvin Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Serco since the allegations of fight clubs and prisoner safety surfaced, said the stories coming out of Mt Eden were "beyond belief". He had heard several staff had turned a blind eye to prisoner assaults and one source had told him of an incident where a segregated inmate was being led through the mainstream prison section by guards, but ended up being beaten anyway. "It just proves what I've been saying, Serco has lost control of the prison and the guards are obviously part of the whole mess and it's time for Serco to be sent packing." A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Liga said he was aware of a number of allegations involving Mt Eden Prison. "The Minister has previously expressed his concern about the allegations and awaits the outcome of the chief inspectorate's review."


Jul 27, 2015 nbr.co.nz
Multinational firm Serco faces a financial penalty of $500,000 after widespread allegations of prisoner mistreatment at Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, which it runs. Corrections boss Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand this morning he was likely to sign off $500,000 worth of penalties, with more to come. Last week Corrections announced it would be take over the management of the Mt Eden Prison from Serco. The announcement came shortly after Serco managing director Paul Mahoney met Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga to discuss a string of recent controversies over prison violence and organised boxing fights. "There are also other options potentially available to me under the contract. These include a final warning and early termination of the contract," Mr Smith said. He added financial charges “may be imposed” because of the events that have surfaced in the past week. “These are likely to be substantial," he said. On Saturday, Prime Minister John Key left open the possibility of cancelling Serco’s contract but said the failures did not give him cause to reconsider the government’s push to use more private providers in health, state housing, education and welfare. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis has been critical of SERCO’s management of Mt Eden Prison, as well as the government’s reaction to the saga. He told NBR Radio last week that the private prison experiment has been an “utter failure in New Zealand.” He says the government should have known better, as Serco has a “dodgy reputation” overseas. “[The government] should have read the tea leaves and never even gone there with Serco,” he says. Last week, Mr Davis Tweeted that Serco is entitled to $1.2 million in performance-related bonuses. “I say give it to the people who have been abused in Serco’s care,” Mr Davis tweeted.

Jul 25, 2015 odt.co.nz

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable"."Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."


Jul 24, 2015 Jul 24, 2015 sharechat.co.nz
Private prison operator Serco relieved of control at Mt Eden prison

Multi-national private prison operator Serco has been forced to hand back control of Auckland's Mt Eden remand prison to the Department of Corrections, which has used a 'step-in' clause in its contract with Serco following a string of increasingly serious allegations about contraband, prisoner injuries and a death. Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and Corrections Department chief executive Ray Smith hosted a hastily arranged press conference at Parliament this afternoon to announce the decision, which was Smith's, cauterising what had developed over the course of the last week to be a major political issue and included calls for Lotu-Iiga's resignation. Serco will continue to earn fees under its 10-year contract to run Mt Eden and remains responsible for meeting staff wages and the operational costs of the prison, as well as becoming liable without compensation for all the additional costs of inserting what Smith called a "crack team" of as many as 20 state prison managers to "sort out" the problems at Mt Eden. The allegations about Serco's management include prisoners being 'dropped' from balconies in initiation ceremonies at the prison, resulting in injury and one alleged death, the transfer of prisoners injured at Mt Eden to state-run prisons to get them off the remand prison's books, along with forced participation in 'fight clubs' and the presence in the prison of illicit drugs, home-brewed alcohol and mobile phones. "Following a new allegation yesterday, I am pleased that Ray Smith has made the decision that Corrections will take over the running of the prison for the immediate future," said Lotu-Iiga. Similar takeovers of prison management had occurred at state-run prisons that had experienced problems, the minister said, citing the replacement of management at the Spring Hill state prison after a riot in June 2013. The Mt Eden furore has erupted just as Serco enters a period in which it renegotiates the terms of the second half of its contract for Mt Eden, with the government able to terminate the contract at any time between now and a "break date" in 2016. Asked what the chances were of Serco still running the prison past that break date, Lotu-Iiga said: "I don't know." The inquiry now under way into the prison's management was important to help determine the way forward. Under the contract terms, it could be broken immediately but the right course of action was an inquiry, he said. Serco's contract to run the recently opened prison at Wiri is unaffected. Wiri was developed as a public-private partnership and houses prisoners who have been sentenced, unlike Mt Eden, where prisoners are either awaiting trial or are being held prior to transfer after sentencing to more permanent incarceration. Mt Eden has a high turnover of around 4,000 prisoners a year and is acknowledged as a "difficult" prison to manage, said Lotu-Iiga. Smith said he had been in contact with Serco's senior executive for the Asia-Pacific region and had spoken to the global chief executive, Rupert Soames, in London, about the issues. It was inevitable that Serco would face penalty charges relating to the incidents that had been uncovered so far. The second phase of a complete search of Mt Eden was now under way. Hampshire-based Serco runs outsourced public services around the world in numerous sectors, employing 122,000 people in 30 countries, including Australia's mainland and Christmas Island immigration detention centres to house asylum-seekers and illegal migrants arriving by boat and air. It reported 1.5 billion British pounds in writedowns on the value of its contracts last November and was forced to go to shareholders for an emergency 550 million pound recapitalisation through a rights issue. It announced profit downgrades at the same time.Soames announced at the time the company would narrow the focus of its outsourced contracting to defence, transport, health, justice and immigration services for the UK, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand unit reported an annual loss of $2.6 million, including $1.5 million impairment charge on mobilisation and bid costs, in calendar 2014.

Jul 23, 2015 3news.co.nz
Minister puts Serco on notice over prison UPDATED

The operator of Mt Eden Corrections Facility, Serco, has been fined $300,000 over its private prison operation in New Zealand. Serco has been officially put on notice by the Corrections Minister over concerns about safety and security at the remand prison. And it's not guaranteed to have its contract renewed either. Under questioning in the House by Green MP David Clendon this afternoon, the minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said in the 2014/2015 financial year, the company had been fined a $300,000 performance-related fee. "Some of the incidents include insufficient staff levels, mixing accused prisoners with other prisoners, minimum entitlements and incident notification," Mr Lotu-Iiga said. Earlier today, Serco bosses Scott McNairn and Paul Mahoney met with Mr Lotu-Iiga in his Beehive office. Mr Lotu-Iiga said in the House nothing was brought up in the meeting which would have required the company be fined. He denied there was a "dysfunctional relationship" between him and the Corrections Department given a report into fight clubs in prison was done a year ago, but never given to him. The minister has said the meeting had previously been scheduled, but intended to express his disappointment in how the prison is run given allegations of inappropriate behaviour behind its walls. "I have made my concerns clear to both Serco and the Department of Corrections, and have laid out my expectations going forward," Mr Lotu-Iiga says. "Serco has been left in no doubt that their performance across the board needs to improve and that they are on notice." While Mt Eden was a "challenging environment" because it is a remand prison and with a transient prison population, Mr Lotu-Iiga says it doesn't excuse Serco from providing adequate safety and security. Mr Clendon questioned why the company had only been on notice and facing their contract being cancelled, given revelations of fight clubs, drinking, drug-taking and rumours of serious assaults. "Do they need actually to burn Mt Eden prison down before the minister will act decisively?" he said. "Unlike that party, we believe there is a process to follow, due process. There needs to be a review, we need to get to the bottom of the facts around some of the incidents we've seen in recent days and they you make the appropriate decisions," Mr Lotu-Iiga replied. The prison operator is in the period where it can renegotiate the terms of its 10-year $300 million contract with the Crown, including whether to extend the deal beyond 2016. When asked whether he would renew the contract, Mr Lotu-Iiga said: "I can't guarantee that that will happen. "We will get the findings of the review in terms of the incidents that were reported and we will make decisions, going forward, that will be based on their performance." Serco was tracking well in the nine months through to March 31, meeting 31 out of 37 performance measures, and hitting 13 of 14 key performance indicator targets that grant it access to performance bonuses. The company says it will cooperate fully with the chief inspectorate review into the behaviour in the prison including fight clubs, drinking and drug-taking which begins on Monday. It will look into contraband and incidents of violence in Serco-run prisons and those managed by the Department of Corrections.

Jul 20, 2015 odt.co.nz/new

Jail company 'knew about fight clubs'

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable". "Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."

Jul 19, 2015 stuff.co.nz/national/politics
New Zealand: Serco fight club investigation widens

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. The government-ordered review into leaked 'fight club' footage at an Auckland prison will investigate whether staff knew about or helped run the organised fighting ring. The Chief Inspector of Corrections will also be investigating whether similar violence was happening at other prisons. Details of the investigation have come after Corrections confirmed it was examining its "contractual options" with Serco, the company which manages Mt Eden prison where the fights were recorded. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. Video footage of prisoners fighting each other in cells and exercise yards was posted online, and has drawn condemnation from both the Government and opposition. On Sunday Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga announced the terms of reference for an investigation, widening the scope to include allegations related to violence and the use of cell phones in other prisons. "This behaviour of prisoners is unacceptable and I have asked Corrections to carry out a robust and thorough review of the incidents," he said. Serco was also conducting its own investigation, and the police could undertake their own investigation. Phase one of Corrections chief inspector Andy Fitzharris' investigation would look at the circumstances surrounding the incidents posted to social media and whether there were organised prisoner fights at Mt Eden Prison. "The investigation will pay particular attention to the last three months to determine whether this type of activity is widespread across the site or limited to specific units, whether management or staff knew of it, what they did about it and what measures have been taken to restrict contraband," Lotu-Iiga said. It would also look at "whether staff and management had knowledge of the existence of a 'fight club' operating, and any involvement by staff in its operation" and the "levels of supervision and security operating that would allow this activity to occur without staff intervention. "I also expect recommendations to come out of it to strengthen controls, standards and operating procedures if warranted," Lotu-Iiga said. The second phase would review the adequacy of controls designed to address prisoner violence and access to cell phones in other New Zealand prisons. "To ensure an independent view of this process the Office of the Ombudsman has been invited to monitor and review the investigation. Full cooperation will be afforded to the Ombudsman's investigator, who may also independently report on any matter concerning the incidents or its subsequent investigation. "I have already put Serco on notice over the incidents at [Mount Eden]. I will be meeting with Serco senior management this week and I am expecting a positive and strong response from the company in resolving these issues."


Jul 17, 2015 3news.co.nz
Prison fights sometimes 'simply entertainment'

Private prison operator SERCO is coming under increasing pressure following claims guards in Mt Eden Prison are encouraging organised fight clubs. It has now been revealed both the Corrections Department and SERCO knew about the clubs 18 months ago. The fights happen in one-minute rounds. Sometimes it is gang prospects trying to get patched, other times it is a way to earn a reputation. 3 News met one former inmate who says guards turn a blind eye to fights, which on the inside are called "contender battles". "Some of it is one gang versus another, other times it's internal gangs sorting out differences… or just simply entertainment," he says. SERCO has been plagued by allegations that its attempts at cost cutting could put lives at risk. The prison is struggling to find and keep staff, and topped a list for the number of prisoner assaults in the three years to 2014. Several inmates have told 3 News the guards not only allow the fights, but actively encourage them by putting rival gangs in the same block and sometimes placing bets. In a statement, SERCO says it is working with Corrections in its investigation, but goes on to say that for many prisoners violence is the norm. Corrections denies guards are involved, but admits it knew about the fight clubs 18 months ago. It says back then it could not find enough evidence to warrant a full scale investigation. Community advocate Richie Hardcore says this should be a wakeup call for lawmakers. "Eighty percent of people in prison were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offending," he says. "You have to look at the environment and the context." SERCO's contract is up for renewal in 2017, but Corrections is hinting that it is reviewing its contractual obligations.


May 18, 2015 adionz.co.nz

The Corrections Minister is rejecting criticisms of the New Zealand prison system made in a United Nations report. In a report on how New Zealand is implementing UN initiatives against inhuman treatment, the Committee Against Torture has identified 13 areas of concern. They include domestic violence, the Independent Police Conduct Authority, over-representation of Maori in prisons, use of tasers and people-trafficking. The UN paper claimed prisons were overcrowded, had inadequate health services, and too much power to strip-search inmates. The Minister, Sam Lotu-Iiga, said New Zealand had one of the best corrections systems in the world. "I don't know whether I agree with the assertions that they make based on the evidence that I've seen. "I accept their right to make the points, but I don't accept that they are major problems in our prison system." Mr Lotu-Iiga said he would consider the recommendations, but he was comfortable with the state of New Zealand prisons. Concerns about private prisons: A United Nations committee said the Government needed to keep a closer eye on privately run prisons, which it said were more violent than comparable public prisons. On private prisons, the report says the rate of violence between prisoners and assaults on guards at the Serco-managed Mt Eden prison is higher than in public prisons. The committee says the Government needs to ensure private prisons are upholding the same standards as those in the public system. This is the sixth such report on New Zealand's implementation of the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Almost every report has drawn attention to the over-representation of Maori and across every aspect of the justice system. While Maori make up about 15 percent of the general population they account for about half of the prison population - and that jumps to 60 percent for women.


Jan 14, 2014 stuff.co.nz

Private prison operator Serco has apologised to Kim Dotcom for his treatment at Mt Eden after his arrest two years ago. The firm, which has a well- documented history of blunders in its British, Australian and New Zealand operations, has also apologised to Fairfax NZ for providing incorrect information when questioned about the German internet mogul's time in custody. Dotcom was arrested on copyright charges after a high-profile raid on his mansion at Coatesville, north of Auckland, in January 2012, which was requested by the FBI and carried out by the New Zealand police special tactics group. The raid has since been deemed illegal by the High Court. He complained at the time about not receiving the toiletry pack supposed to be given to all prisoners when they arrive in custody. The "new-arrival packs" contain bedding, a towel, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Dotcom said he received none of those items, and was unable to wash himself after going to the toilet. In November he threatened to sue Serco over his treatment. When Fairfax then contacted Serco, it initially dismissed his allegations about the arrival pack. It said it had no record that any complaint was made by Dotcom or his lawyers over his treatment at Mt Eden. However, communications manager Jane Palmer has now said that statement was incorrect. Serco had since retrieved an "archived record" which showed a complaint was raised, she said. "We apologise for the error. We have also written to the individual [Kim Dotcom] to apologise to him." Dotcom said the apology, which he received yesterday, was the first he had received from Serco, but it did not go far enough. "They only apologise for the arrival treatment. Not for all the worst experiences that came after that. "I was fearing for my health and my life because they did not look after my well-documented health issues to a point that I was unable to see my lawyers because I was paralysed from back pain. "A flashlight was flashed in my face at least every two hours, sometimes more frequently while I was sleeping. "In my one month in remand I was constantly tired and did not have a single night of uninterrupted sleep. "They should apologise for those much more serious injustices." He said he also suspected prison authorities may have knowingly allowed a phone call to be placed to him while he was on remand that was designed to entrap him. Serco has run the Mt Eden Corrections Facility on behalf of the Corrections Department since the prison opened in 2011. Ad Feedback: Labour corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said it should lose its contract to run Mt Eden. "Because this is a privately operated prison, we rely on accurate record-keeping of what is happening in the prison. "We have always been very concerned Serco is incentivised not to keep accurate records because of the arrangement they have with the Corrections Department. "I do think it is concerning we have now seen an example of them keeping inaccurate records and, on top of that, not doing what they are required to do under their contract." Dotcom is awaiting a hearing on his possible extradition to the United States, set for April. Next Monday, which will be the second anniversary of the raid on his mansion, he intends to launch a political party, to be called the Party Party, at Shed 10 in Auckland. The launch will coincide with the release of his album, Good Times, the recording of which was interrupted by the raid on his mansion. It is billed as "an optimistic LP full of pop-dance music perfect to party to".


Nov 27, 2013 stuff.co.nz

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will sue private-prison operator Serco over what he describes as his "inhumane treatment" at Mt Eden Prison. Serco said it had no record of his complaints on file, even though Dotcom said he filled in more than a dozen forms while on remand, complaining about his treatment at the prison. He also had his lawyers write to Serco on his behalf. Dotcom alleged in a book published on Monday that he had been denied food, blankets, a towel, soap and toilet paper during his first evening in the Serco-managed Mt Eden Prison, following his arrest on US-based copyright charges last year. That meant he had nothing to clean himself with after going to the toilet. He and his co-accused were told the basic hygiene needs could wait until the next day, he said. Dotcom also accused Serco of neglecting his health care and said he believed prison authorities had been complicit in an attempt to entrap him. A guard allowed a fraudulent call, which was supposedly from his lawyer, to be placed to him outside normal business hours by a person who then claimed to be a prosecutor working on his case and who requested a bribe, he said. "At some point in the future I am definitely going to take [Serco] to court," he said. A Serco spokeswoman told Fairfax in a written statement this week that none of the allegations had been raised with the company previously, and it had received no complaints corresponding to the allegations. Dotcom said that was "plainly false". "I wrote while I was in Mt Eden a dozen reports and complaints and made everything that was wrong there official," he said. "They have these forms you have to fill out. While I was there I filled out more than a dozen forms. "My lawyers wrote several letters to Serco while I was in prison pointing those things out." His lawyer, Paul Davidson QC, had written to Serco asking it to find out the source of the fraudulent call, he said. Serco's spokeswoman said she had made inquiries of people at Mt Eden Prison before issuing her statement to Fairfax Media on Tuesday. "We pulled out Mr Dotcom's file, we reviewed his allegations versus what was in that file, and there were no comments of that nature in his file," she said. The Corrections Department has described Dotcom's allegations about his treatment at Mt Eden as an "operational matter" best addressed by Serco. Labour's corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said that was "not good enough" and the department should be accountable. She said the allegation regarding the fraudulent phone call in particular was "quite significant".


Nov 27, 2013 stuff.co.nz

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will sue private-prison operator Serco over what he describes as his "inhumane treatment" at Mt Eden Prison. Serco said it had no record of his complaints on file, even though Dotcom said he filled in more than a dozen forms while on remand, complaining about his treatment at the prison. He also had his lawyers write to Serco on his behalf. Dotcom alleged in a book published on Monday that he had been denied food, blankets, a towel, soap and toilet paper during his first evening in the Serco-managed Mt Eden Prison, following his arrest on US-based copyright charges last year. That meant he had nothing to clean himself with after going to the toilet. He and his co-accused were told the basic hygiene needs could wait until the next day, he said. Dotcom also accused Serco of neglecting his health care and said he believed prison authorities had been complicit in an attempt to entrap him. A guard allowed a fraudulent call, which was supposedly from his lawyer, to be placed to him outside normal business hours by a person who then claimed to be a prosecutor working on his case and who requested a bribe, he said. "At some point in the future I am definitely going to take [Serco] to court," he said. A Serco spokeswoman told Fairfax in a written statement this week that none of the allegations had been raised with the company previously, and it had received no complaints corresponding to the allegations. Dotcom said that was "plainly false". "I wrote while I was in Mt Eden a dozen reports and complaints and made everything that was wrong there official," he said. "They have these forms you have to fill out. While I was there I filled out more than a dozen forms. "My lawyers wrote several letters to Serco while I was in prison pointing those things out." His lawyer, Paul Davidson QC, had written to Serco asking it to find out the source of the fraudulent call, he said. Serco's spokeswoman said she had made inquiries of people at Mt Eden Prison before issuing her statement to Fairfax Media on Tuesday. "We pulled out Mr Dotcom's file, we reviewed his allegations versus what was in that file, and there were no comments of that nature in his file," she said. The Corrections Department has described Dotcom's allegations about his treatment at Mt Eden as an "operational matter" best addressed by Serco. Labour's corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said that was "not good enough" and the department should be accountable. She said the allegation regarding the fraudulent phone call in particular was "quite significant".

 

Oct 25, 2013 radionz.co.nz

The chief executive of British prison operator Serco has quit as part of a major reorganisation following a series of scandals. Serco has more than 120,000 staff in more than 30 countries, including New Zealand where it runs the private Mount Eden remand prison. Chris Hyman has resigned from Serco. AFP It will also run a new $840 million jail in Wiri, south of Auckland, when it opens in 2015. The British Government, which accounts for about 25% of Serco's revenue, announced three months ago it would not award the company any new contracts pending a review of existing ones. An audit found Serco and a rival company had both charged for tagging criminals who were dead, in prison or not being monitored. Serco says British chief executive Chris Hyman has resigned and has been replaced by the group's chief operating officer, Reuters reports. As part of a company-wide overhaul, Serco says it will strengthen its board by adding three new non-executive directors. In New Zealand, Serco has twice been fined $150,000 for letting inmates escape. The company was ordered to make operational changes as a result.


4 Jun 5, 2013 nzherald.co.nz

Prisoners in privately run Mt Eden Corrections Facility were able to access the internet through faulty computer kiosks a security review of public sector computer systems has found. The security breach was one of 12 "weak points" identified in Government Chief Information Officer Colin McDonald's review of the security of 215 publicly accessible state sector agency IT systems released this morning. Serco, the company which operates Mt Eden said that on November 26 last year, "an administrative error made it possible to open a web browser session" on kiosks provided to prisoners to allow them to "take responsibility for organising their day-to-day lives and helps to develop literacy and numeracy skills". Serco's Director of Operations Scott McNairn said the error "allowed for limited access to the internet, policed by a web filter which blocked access to inappropriate sites". "No email, social media or adult sites were accessed." The internet access was "limited" and "at no time was it possible to access any other systems or information". Serco has not said how long prisoners were able to access the internet for. Mr McNairn said the company had improved security for the kiosks and was "confident" that the likelihood of further problems was "extremely low". The other issues identified in Mr McDonald's review were at: Careers NZ, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Education, EQC, Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, Ministry of Justice, Maritime NZ, MidCentral DHB, Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Social Development, Tertiary Education Commission. "Action has been taken and the systems are now secure", Mr McDonald said. "There is no evidence any of these weak points lead to a breach of privacy or information security." Mr McDonald's review was initiated in October last year in response to revelations that private data could be obtained via the Ministry of Social Development's public computer kiosks. State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie this morning confirmed the report was completed late last year but departments had been working on their response since then. The issue of public trust in Government agencies' ability to handle private information appropriately was an increasingly important one, Mr Rennie said. The public was now much more aware of the issue and much less tolerant of misuse of their information. "We need to raise our game considerably around how we handle people's information." Mr McDonald said there "will always be a level of risk in this area that must be managed" but the review's key finding was that the management of privacy and information security "is not always meeting best practice and needs to improve". There was currently too much reliance on work done by IT staff and contractors and not sufficient oversight by senior managers or independent assurance that security standards were being met. Mr Rennie said "a plan of action" was no underway to address issues identified by the review. That include the immediate action taken to strengthen security begun when the review was completed in December. Agencies also had to show by April this year that they had conducted a "detailed risk assessment of their publicly accessible systems". Agencies will also have to provide security assessments to Mr McDonald by the end of next month and again by the end of March next year, "along with reports about the steps they have taken address privacy and security issues". "This is an issue about moving the whole system up in terms of the level of performance", Mr Rennie said. State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman said New Zealanders expected government agencies "will be doing everything they can to ensure the integrity of public sector ICT systems". "We expect every public service department and agency to comply fully with the agreed plan of action."

August 17, 2012 Radio New Zealand
New Zealand's only private prison operator, Serco, has been hit with another $150,000 fine for letting a second inmate escape. Graham Hay, an inmate at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison, spent 30 minutes on the run after undergoing an eye procedure at the Greenlane Clinical Centre in early June. An official report has found a non-standard pair of handcuffs was used to lock Hay to one of two guards escorting him to the appointment. The larger-than-usual cuffs slipped off Hay's wrist, allowing him to escape before he was caught by a police dog. The report says the incorrect handcuffs were used because prison officers had not properly checked the equipment beforehand. None of Serco's staff have been sacked as a result, although managing director Paul Mahoney says it has issued written warnings to some staff. The company has been ordered to make operational changes. Last year, Serco was fined $150,000 following the escape of inmate Aaron Forden. The Corrections Department is in charge of overseeing Serco's $300 million contract with the New Zealand Government. Deputy chief executive Christine Stevenson says Hay's escape was avoidable and the fine is warranted.

July 5, 2012 Stuff
Private prison operator Serco has failed to meet half of its performance targets since taking over Auckland's Mt Eden Prison. A report card on Serco's performance released today reveals three inmates were wrongly released, one escaped and there were three wrongful detentions. The percentage of sentenced prisoners with an appropriate plan in place within required timeframes was only 28 per cent - two thirds lower than the 90 per cent target. Of 37 targets Serco was to meet in the nine months to April half weren't met. Corrections said Serco had accepted responsibility for one wrongful release. To date the final decision on whether they'd be fined on a second wrongful release had not been made, and discussions between both parties about whether they'd followed correct operational processes were ongoing. Corrections are to issue a performance notice for a third wrongful release that occurred in March. During its first quarter running the prison Serco was fined $150,000 after prisoner Aaron Forden escaped in February. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" escaped along with another inmate who was caught almost immediately. The firm was also fined $25,000 for releasing one inmate early and $50,000 for failing to file progress reports. Escapes and wrongful releases are listed as zero targets.

June 6, 2012 Auckland Now
Private prison operator Serco could be slapped with its second $150,000 fine this year after a prisoner escaped after getting his eyes checked on Sunday. A Mt Eden prisoner spent 30 minutes on the run after escaping while being escorted from the Greenlane Clinical Centre. The police dog unit and prison duty staff found him hiding in a garden shed at a property in Claude Rd, about 600 metres from the clinic. Auckland District Health Board spokesman Mark Fenwick said the prisoner escaped while being escorted back to the vehicle after receiving his treatment. The man is back in prison and faces charges of escaping custody. Serco, who are contracted by Corrections to manage the prison, would not comment on how the prisoner escaped. An internal inquiry is underway. Under Serco's contract with Corrections they can be fined $150,000 every time a prisoner escapes. They were fined in February after serial escaper Aaron Forden fled the prison after breaking into a service way in October, 2011.

April 27, 2012 New Zealand Herald
Private prison operators Serco have failed to meet several key performance measures since taking over running the Mt Eden Corrections Facility, a Corrections Department report shows. The report, released under the Official Information Act, shows two wrongful releases and one wrongful imprisonment in the eight months since the Mt Eden facility was handed to the British-based company. It was fined $150,000 when Aaron Stephen Forden, a prisoner dubbed "Houdini", escaped earlier this year. All of the incidents are listed as zero tolerance areas under Corrections Departments standards. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand Serco's failure to meet several performance measures was "less than we expect". "We have been actively working with Serco to ensure that improvements are achieved." Other results showed an 82 per cent completion rate on random drug tests at the facility - 17 per cent short of the standard required. Targets for prisoner management plans and telephone call monitoring were not reached. However, random drug testing showed only a three per cent return of positive samples. The Public Service Association said the results showed the failure of privatising prisons. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said Serco had jeopardised public safety by allowing wrongful releases and escapes. "The department may be trying to write these off as 'teething problems' but they are no such thing - these are core procedures that should be right from the start. "This report shows Serco is failing in its number one priority - to keep the public safe." Mr Wagstaff said the report showed the "folly" of opening another private prison at Wiri.

April 27, 2012 Scoop
National’s prison privatisation plan needs serious rethinking after failing to meet basic performance requirements at Mt Eden prison, Labour says. Labour’s Justice Sector Spokesperson Charles Chauvel says that the Government’s plans to privatise up to a quarter of New Zealand’s prison capacity will worsen the already dangerous failure to meet requirements. “Figures out today reveal worrying trends in Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility over the last eight months “Of particular concern are failures to meet drug testing and offender management plan targets, wrongful releases, and an escape from custody. “Coincidentally I visited Mt Eden yesterday, as well as the state-run Paremoremo and Auckland Women’s prisons. “While there is much positive work being done by the staff at each of them, one of the obvious realities is that a level playing field does not operate between the public and private sectors. Many of the state-run institutions have to cope with legacy facilities and procedures, which Serco is unburdened by. “In light of that – and especially since, under National Serco’s slice of the corrections pie will double once the new Wiri Prison is built next year, and up to a quarter of all inmates in the system will be under their control – the public has a right to expect Serco’s performance targets to be met.

February 21, 2012 Northern Advocate
Private prison operator Serco has been fined $150,000 after a prison dubbed "Houdini" escaped from the new Mt Eden Corrections facility. Aaron Stephen Forden, originally from Whangarei, broke into a service way and fled the prison complex last October, having famously escaped from the old Mt Eden Prison in 2008. Forden was recaptured a week later and is being dealt with by the courts. The Department of Corrections said in a statement that improvements had been made to the security of the facility since the escape following a joint review into the escape.

October 19, 2011 3 News
Two staff at Mt Eden Prison have been suspended after notorious escapee Aaron Forden broke out of the jail on October 10. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" for his serial escapes from custody, was recaptured in Auckland on Monday after a week on the run. Forden was the first inmate to break out of the new Mt Eden Corrections Facility, working with another prisoner to flee through a service way. The second inmate was recaptured but Forden got away, in a suspected waiting vehicle. The privately-managed prison is run by British-based company Serco, which could face a hefty fine over the escape. Serco Asia Pacific spokesman Paul Shaw confirmed to NZ Newswire that two prison staff had been suspended "pending the outcome of investigations". He said he was unable to comment further on the suspensions while the investigations were ongoing.

October 18, 2011 Stuff
''Houdini'' jail-breaker Aaron Forden spent seven days ''laying low'' with the help of associates, after escaping from Auckland's Mt Eden prison last week, police say. The 30-year-old was arrested just before 7pm last night at a residential address in Silverdale. Police also arrested a 24-year-old female living at the property and charged her with being an accessory after the fact. Auckland Police Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman says the week-long hunt for Forden included visits to various members of his family and friends. Known for dying his hair and changing his looks while on the run, Forden's appearance was unchanged this time.

October 12, 2011 Northern Advocate
A man with the ability to change his appearance like a chameleon to evade capture could be headed for familiar territory - Northland. Police are warning members of the public they should not approach 30-year-old Aaron Forden, who is considered unpredictable and dangerous, after he escaped from the new Mount Eden Corrections Facility on Monday. The notorious escape artist is the first person to escape from the new $218 million private prison. Whangarei Detective Steve Chamberlain said Forden had family and criminal links in Northland and that anyone who spotted him in the region should contact police immediately.

October 10, 2011 3 News
Private prison operator SERCO faces a $150,000 fine after the man nicknamed “Houdini” escaped from its custody. Aaron Forden scaled the perimeter fence of Mt Eden Corrections Facility early this morning. He was pursued by a police dog, but got away in a waiting car. Forden used knotted bed sheets to escape from Mt Eden Prison in 2008. “I would consider him to be unpredictable and therefore dangerous and that members of the public should not approach him,” says Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman. “But it’s only with assistance from the public and his associates that we will catch him.” Forden is known to change his appearance to avoid capture.

August 10, 2011 Stuff
Auckland's Mt Eden prison operator Serco has been accused of bribing inmates with bigger helpings of food and televisions in their cells to encourage them to behave. The prison officers' union, the Corrections Association, said that in addition to larger meals, Serco served dessert every night, unheard of in the State prison system, Radio New Zealand reported. Association president Beven Hanlon said the "luxuries" allowed the private prison operator to get by with a skeleton crew but guards were feeling vulnerable and leaving on a daily basis. Serco said in a statement the televisions must be paid for by the inmates and the quantities of food served and the number of officers employed were both appropriate.

June 1, 2011 Radio NZ
New Zealand's only private prison will begin housing inmates from Wednesday but concern has already been expressed about staffing levels. British company Serco is running the new Mount Eden jail for at least the next six years. The company's contract with the Government doesn't stipulate minimum staffing and the main prison guards union is worried the staff-to-inmate ratio won't be right. Corrections Association president Bevan Hanlon says the approximately 960 inmates were handled by 427 prison guards under public management but that number has dropped to 200 under private management. Serco rejects the figures, though is refusing to say exactly how many staff it has for reasons of security and commercial sensitivity.

Mount Gambier Prison
South Australia
Group 4
August 9, 2004
The South Australian coroner has handed down his findings into the hanging death of a prisoner at Mount Gambier Prison, in the state's south-east, almost three years ago.  Troy Phillip Turner was found hanging from the front of the shower stall in his cell on the morning of September 2, 2001.  State coroner Wayne Chivell says the 36-year-old's death was "yet another case" where an "easy hanging point" had been available to a prisoner.  He criticised the South Australian prison system for its "piecemeal" approach to safe cell design, rather than adopting a comprehensive approach like Victoria.  The coroner also described the decision not to cut down Mr Turner and attempt resuscitation as "inappropriate", saying the matter calls for the urgent attention of Group 4.  (ABC)

Northern Immigration Detention Facility
Darwin, Australia
Serco
May 12, 2013 au.news.yahoo.com

The Immigration Department says 18 Vietnamese asylum seekers who escaped from a Darwin detention centre overnight have been recaptured.  The department says the men, who are all rated as a low security risk, escaped from the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Berrimah. The department says the men came from three separate boats, intercepted between Feburary and April. It has sought an "urgent explanation from its service provider Serco about how this incident has occurred". The department says it is commissioning an independent review into the escapes. "We want to know how this occurred, and importantly what steps need to be taken to avoid a repeat," a spokesman said. The men are not considered dangerous. The Department has praised Northern Territory police for the efforts in apprehending the men, and returning them to the detention centre. Father John Kelliher, of the St Mary's Star of the Sea Cathedral, says two of the men were found on the steps of the church earlier this morning. He said they asked for assistance and wanted to make a phone call or get a phone card to ring family in Sydney. "As the police arrived, the two fellas tried to scale the fence and ran off," he said. "One ran up Smith Street. I think he was eventually apprehended by the police. "But the other gentleman had actually backtracked and gone and hid in the church and the police came and asked him to leave and they took him from the church."

Jan. 10, 2013 Cootamundra Herald
'Conditions are appalling and fuelling rising client tensions.' A TOP immigration official repeatedly warned of ''filthy'' and ''squalid'' living conditions for asylum seekers months before a riot engulfed a Darwin detention centre, new documents reveal. A damning internal assessment of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) warns of a string of maintenance problems and substandard care at the facility housing almost 500 asylum seekers. ''Conditions are appalling and fuelling rising client tensions,'' the report notes, with boredom seen as a significant problem. The confidential report by the Immigration Department's regional manager for detention operations in the Northern Territory and Queensland, Julie Furby, paints a disturbing picture of conditions inside one of Australia's largest detention centres. ''A substandard activity program which in no way keeps clients engaged/interested/busy. It does not keep their minds off the negatives or length of stay/miserable day-to-day conditions, and certainly does not tire them out enough to sleep well at night,'' she wrote. The report, obtained under freedom-of-information laws, provides what she describes as a ''frank update on detention operations in the NT''. It was written in August 2010, a week before riots erupted at the Darwin detention centre, resulting in a fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage and injured a guard. Other documents claim haphazard efforts to give asylum seekers games to play - including a beach volleyball court ''too hot to play except at night now we are in the build-up to the monsoons''. ''It is clear that this centre was only ever built for fishers who stay for a few weeks and then move on,'' Ms Furby wrote in an earlier message. The problems inside Australia's detention network remain, with Christmas Island criticised last month as chronically overcrowded by human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs. Ms Furby's full report, contained in an email to the department's Canberra headquarters, remains heavily censored and was released only in part almost 10 months after an application by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network. But the publicly disclosed portions illustrate tensions between the department and contracted company Serco. Listing the reasons for growing tension, Ms Furby warns: ■''Filthy environment at the NIDC - squalid living conditions - despite this being raised with local Serco management repeatedly over the past months.'' ■''Lack of ongoing repairs and maintenance - Serco have simply not been managing.'' ■''Despite repeat requests … Serco have failed to implement an internet booking system for clients to ensure equity of access, saying they don't have the staff to monitor/enforce it - despite this being the cause of many of the incidents and fights in the compounds.'' ■''In summary, Serco is not managing to keep up standards in either [of] the detention centres … since the spill of clients from CI [Christmas Island]. Despite our best efforts to get these addressed over past months and weeks redacted.'' A spokesman for the department said significant improvements had been made at the centre since 2010, including a library, soccer pitch and outdoor barbecues. Toilets had also been replaced, with 332 people now detained at the centre.

November 18, 2011 AAP
SECURITY company Serco has been asked to explain why a refugee was locked in isolation after he suffered an electric shock while scaling a fence at a Darwin detention centre. The Joint Select Committee on Australia's Immigration Detention Network is conducting an extensive inquiry into the effect of detention on detainees, in the wake of a series of detention centre riots. Serco, which has a contract with the federal government to run the centres, was questioned today over a refugee being locked in a room by guards for more than an hour, after he suffered an electric shock while climbing a fence at Darwin's Northern Immigration Detention Centre on November 15. The man, who was declared a refugee a year ago and was awaiting security clearance, was reportedly attempting to see friends in another compound, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the inquiry in Melbourne. Ms Hanson-Young said he was only taken to hospital after he collapsed, then was again locked up in isolation after he returned. "In this scenario, which is a real scenario, who made the decision that this man was to be locked up on his own?" Senator Hanson-Young asked Serco managing director Chris Manning. Mr Manning told her he would look into the incident and report back to the committee on his findings. Senator Hanson-Young also asked him about concerns raised in a recent report by health and safety authority Comcare over underqualified staff working at immigration detention centres. "You don't have a client to staff ratio," she said of the contract the security firm has with the government. Mr Manning told her staffing levels were reviewed regularly. "They are based on a number of factors ... if there are safety issues then we would take a view on whether more staff were required," he said.

August 31, 2011 The Age
Asylum seekers are not to blame for two fires at Darwin's immigration detention centre, the immigration department says. A spokesman said most of those involved in today's fires were Indonesian boat crew also being held at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre. Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the Indonesians were protesting against the refusal to let them celebrate the end of Ramadan. "There were issues about how they were going to celebrate Eid with the end of Ramadan and that was apparently rejected by Serco (the centre's manager) or Immigration and that's been the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. "There's a lot of tensions with the Indonesians anyway because they're waiting months and sometimes a year and longer before they're actually charged." He said the fires were not started by asylum seekers.

July 26, 2011 Herald Sun
ABOUT 20 asylum seekers are staging a peaceful protest and hunger strike on the roof of a detention centre in Darwin, immigration officials have confirmed. About 10 men climbed on to the roof of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre on the Stuart Highway on Sunday but the number increased to 21 by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration told AAP. That number had dropped to 20 by 5.30pm (CST) and the situation was described as "fluid in nature". He said Serco, the security company that manages the centre, had engaged detainees individually and as a group since the weekend, negotiating with them to come down. He confirmed the detainees were "engaged in voluntary starvation" and said Serco would continue to monitor the situation and the welfare of the detainees. Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, claimed managers at the centre on Sunday threatened to forcibly remove the rooftop protesters and take them to jail, before more people joined the protest. Mr Rintoul told AAP a further 60 Afghan asylum seekers were participating in a hunger strike inside the centre, but the immigration spokesman said the number of asylum seekers inside engaged in voluntary starvation was closer to 15 or 20.

July 19, 2011 AAP
A ROOF-TOP protest at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin has gone into its fifth day, with asylum seekers refusing to come down. A Department of Immigration spokesman said three men climbed onto the roof of the centre late Friday. He said five men were on the roof yesterday morning. This morning, the spokesman confirmed, a small group of men of Iranian and Iraqi origin were still on the roof at 9am (CST). "The situation is fluid," he said.

July 17, 2011 ABC
A group of asylum seekers have spent days on the roof of Darwin's immigration detention centre protesting over the length of times their claims are taking to process. Three Iranian asylum seekers have been on the roof of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre since Friday night. Their fellow detainees say the protestors have been in detention for up to 17 months waiting for their asylum applications to be assessed. They are holding a sign written on a sheet appealing for their release, saying that "keeping them in a cage" for so long is more cruel than the way cattle are treated in the live export trade to Indonesia. The Immigration Department says the centre manager, Serco, is talking with the protesters to try to get them to come down.

February 4, 2011 The Age
INTERPRETERS for asylum seekers on Christmas Island have been working without accreditation or translating experience. A Melbourne interpreter said unqualified staff were ill-equipped to deal with asylum seekers' issues dispassionately. ''Some of the interpreters are not competent because they are not actually interpreters,'' the source, who had worked on Christmas Island, said. ''It's not up to Immigration. They are desperate. The number of clients has gone up and demand is shocking.'' For certain dialects, the interpreter said, it was impossible to meet demand from the pool of trained professionals within Australia. The comments follow a report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Allan Asher, which found asylum seekers had been assigned interpreters who did not speak their language and were recording incorrect information on their asylum claims. Amnesty International Australia said the problems were common to detention centres in Darwin and at Curtin in Western Australia.

October 20, 2010 International Business Times
Federal authorities confirmed on Thursday that an investigation is underway on alleged security loopholes in Darwin's immigration facilities following the lapses that occurred last month, which was punctuated by a peaceful protest of detained immigrants who sprung out from the centre. An Immigration Department spokesman admitted that the Northern Territory Licensing Commission is conducting an inquiry on Serco, which was tasked by the department to provide for security on the detention facilities. The same official told AAP that Serco is delegating some of its responsibilities to MSS Security though he stressed that the Immigration Department has ensured that the security firm was duly reminded to only employ trained and licensed personnel and comply with all relevant laws. The spokesman also revealed that some former MSS Security employees were facing compliance actions and Serco has been cooperative so far with the ongoing investigation, which came following series of incidents in the past few months where asylum seekers rioted in the facilities, vandalised the centre and staged a protest action after breaking out of detention. Meanwhile, federal opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison warned that the government would be made responsible if allegations of unlicensed workers were made to man the immigration centre were proven true. Mr Morrison told ABC that the government cannot put the entire blame on security contractors since it has the ultimate responsibility as he stressed that "the government must ensure that that licensed operators are only ever used in the care and supervision of people who are being detained by the state."

September 1, 2010 ABC
The asylum seekers pushed through two electric fences to break out of the facility. The Department of Immigration has not said how the men were able to get out of the centre, which has two electric fences. But a refugee advocate says a member of staff may have helped the asylum seekers escape from the centre early this morning. Pamela Kerr from the Asylum Centre Resource Centre in Melbourne, who came to Darwin to visit the asylum seekers on Tuesday, says she thinks a detention staffer let them out. "It's my understanding that the men didn't break out of the centre, that somebody with a heart opened the door and let them out," she said. "There are very mixed feelings amongst the people staffing our detention centres." The stand-off lasted seven-and-a-half hours before dozens of police officers broke up the peaceful protest. The asylum seekers did not resist when they were searched and led into police vans, to be taken to the watch-house in the CBD. Before the protest ended one of the asylum seekers threw journalists a message in a bottle pleading for protection. It was ripped as police tried to take the note from journalists. "Help me please. I came here for protection, not detention," the note read. "Even the foreign forces are helpless and not safe in Afghanistan. Have mercy please, Australian people." Break-out -- The asylum seekers escaped the facility about 6:30am (ACST). The group gathered outside the centre's perimeter fence next to the busy Stuart Highway. Five men involved in the protest were taken to hospital. One man is suffering chest pains, three are being treated for heat exhaustion, while the other man is being treated for an existing foot injury. It does not appear any of the injuries were sustained during the breakout. Ms Kerr says the men are Shiah Muslims, a minority group often targeted on account of their religion. She says the men fear they will be killed if they are sent back to Afghanistan. During the protest the asylum seekers held signs that read: "Please help us", "Show us mercy", and "We are homeless, defenceless and we seek protection". Two of the asylum seekers told the ABC they were from Afghanistan and had been waiting up to nine months in detention. They said they arrived by boat and had since been refused refugee status in Australia. "Nine months we [are] here because that's why I want to go out to talk with you, all of the population of Australia. I need your help," one said. "My children aren't safe in this place. We don't know where is our family." Company may face fine -- Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the private company that runs the Darwin centre, Serco, may be fined for breach of contract after this morning's breakout. He says it appears the asylum seekers may have taken advantage of a change to procedures after Indonesian men charged with people smuggling rioted on the weekend. "Under the contract we can fine them for failure to perform to acceptable standards. I would say though that they are under a lot of pressure given the numbers in detention currently," he said. Senator Evans says asylum seekers could also face criminal charges relating to the incident. Serco is refusing to say how detainees managed to break out this morning and says it will not be making any public statements. 'Pressure-cooker situation' -- Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the Government's policies have created overcrowded detention centres. "What we are seeing up in Darwin is of great concern," he said. "This is a pressure-cooker situation." He says the Opposition has sought a briefing on the incident, but the Government has refused the request. "What all this is symptomatic of is a detention network which has been pushed to complete breaking point," he said. "There are more than 4,100 people who are now being detained by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship as a result of Labor's failed policies. "This is the highest number of people being detained by the department in our history." A riot, also involving up to 100 people, broke out at the Darwin centre over the weekend. The immigration department says the weekend protest began when two men climbed a tree and refused to come down and escalated to involve the majority of the Indonesian crew members being detained in the centre for alleged people smuggling.

August 30, 2010 The Age
DOZENS of Indonesian detainees rioted at Darwin's immigration detention centre early yesterday to protest against their treatment, which includes mandatory jail sentences of up to 20 years. Almost all of the detainees are poor fishermen duped by ruthless people smugglers to steer asylum seeker boats into Australian waters. Their anger and frustration erupted into violence after two men climbed a tree inside a compound at the centre where 97 Indonesians are being held. When they refused to climb down, other detainees joined the protest which grew worse at about 8am (Darwin time) when rioters set fire to rubbish and mattresses they had piled in the grounds. For several hours 12 detainees refused to leave the roofs of demountable buildings, from where they yelled abuse. Some were brandishing two-metre long poles, which they used to stop security guards climbing up. At one point a metal chair was thrown from a roof. Screaming and banging could be heard from behind two high wire fences that surround the centre, which is in the grounds of the Coonawarra Naval Base, on Darwin's outskirts. Police eventually talked the detainees down and the situation was brought under control by mid-morning. At the height of the disturbance, Afghan asylum seekers were evacuated from an adjoining compound. An Immigration official said no one was seriously hurt. Investigators will view security footage before considering whether to lay charges. An official confirmed that the Indonesians were protesting about their legal treatment. Lawyers and several Northern Territory judges have described as an injustice the way the crews of asylum seeker boats are treated as people smugglers. Most of the real smugglers who paid the Indonesian crewmen a few hundred dollars to steer the boats remain in Indonesia where people smuggling laws do not exist. In most cases, the crew were told they would be quickly sent back to Indonesia after arriving in Australia and were shocked to learn they instead face long periods in an Australian jail.

August 13, 2010 Northern Territory News
SEVERAL asylum seekers and security staff were rushed to hospital after a fight broke out over internet usage in a Darwin detention centre. The 10 detainees and two security guards suffered cuts and bruises in the brawl. Earlier media reports said one of the guards had a broken arm. But Immigration Department spokesman Bill Power said: "That's not true. He said a guard has suffered a bruised arm. Police were called for back-up when an argument between an Afghan man and an Indonesian man escalated at the Northern Immigration Detention Facility in Berrimah about 1.40am on Wednesday. Two small groups started fighting while at least 100 people from the compounds southern blocks looked on. Up to four police officers and St John Ambulance attended the centre. But police said the disturbance calmed down when the officers arrived. Immigration confirmed on Friday the argument started over the use of the internet. "It was basically a small argument that got out of control," Mr Power said. Security company Serco has the $45 million department contract to look after more than 450 people in the detention centre and the detainees in alternative accommodations in Darwin. The fight comes two weeks after a Burmese detainee of the centre, in his 30s, claimed a security guard had assaulted him when he refused to take headache tablets. Immigration rejected the version of the incident, describing it as an "altercation". Mr Bill said the department asked Serco to investigate the latest fight. "We are always concerned when people take violent actions and we will look at it in our own way," he said. "The Department asked Serco to conduct an investigation into this matter."

New South Wales Government
March 27, 2009 The Australian
THE research director of a British-based group that is expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails in NSW has backed privatised facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers. Gary Sturgess, research director of the Serco Group, will tell a NSW parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails. He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges -- including being given the keys to their own cells -- in correctional systems where private and public providers compete. Prisoners in these systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers -- with whom they are frequently on first-name terms -- than in systems where public providers face no competition, Mr Sturgess says. The results are safer jails and lower rates of reoffending. Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison, in the Hunter Valley, and Parklea prison, in western Sydney, when the jails are privatised this year. The company already operates one jail in Victoria and one in Western Australia. The decision by NSW Premier Nathan Rees to privatise the two prisons has aroused heated opposition from public sector unions and the Greens, and is opposed by a minority of MPs in the Labor caucus. The privatisation of the jails is being driven by Prisons Minister John Robertson, who led the campaign against power privatisation as a union leader. Mr Sturgess's submission to the upper house inquiry links private jail services in Britain to the "decency agenda" pursued by former British prime minister Tony Blair. "Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life," the submission from Serco argues. As NSW cabinet chief under former Liberal premier Nick Greiner between 1988 and 1992, Mr Sturgess drove a reform agenda that included the corporatisation of government enterprises such as the railways and electricity transmission. He told The Australian yesterday the British experience showed governments could use competition in prison services as a way to set higher standards, not just to get better value for money. "It gives a government an opportunity to say, 'What kind of prisons do we want here?'," Mr Sturgess said. He said the inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, which improved both efficiency and decency. "If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you've got to send somebody to look at it," he said. "This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security." The higher proportion of women officers in private jails had changed the atmosphere. "The difference is that if you've got a prison full of males, with all the testosterone pumping around, people will attempt to man up," he said. "You're not going to get any credit for assaulting a woman." While such arguments will confound critics of prison privatisation on the Left, Mr Sturgess, as a stalwart of NSW politics, knows another obstacle will be the tough-on-crime stand of the major parties. "The objective has got to be to reduce the cycle of reoffending," Mr Sturgess said. "If the consequence of failing to address quality issues is that we do not break the cycle of reoffending, we're actually increasing the crime problem."

January 5, 2004
A security firm shut down by the NSW Government continued to provide armed patrols to the Department of Community Services months after being removed from the industry register.  The case of Lismore-based Magnum Armed Escorts & Security raises important questions about the way in which the burgeoning industry is regulated, particularly when some companies appear to have been targeted by gun thieves.  Industry sources say private security has ballooned so much that the Government's Security Industry Registry is struggling to keep a grip on those entering the field and those it has already weeded out.  Latest figures show that in NSW alone there are 45,000 people employed as guards, 7863 of them armed.  And despite the fact that police are already outnumbered three to one by security officers, in the past six months alone 650 applications have been received for master security licences and a further 7500 for individual class 1 and 2 licences.  While the NSW Government has announced a raft of changes to weed out the rogues, restrict access to firearms and remove high-powered weapons from use, only 62 security company permits have been revoked by the authorities in the past five years.  (Smh.com)

January 5, 2004
A security guard for the NSW Premier Bob Carr threatened to put three bullets in the head of a NSW police officer, a court heard yesterday.  Hussam Hussein, 21, of Blakehurst, appeared at Parramatta Bail Court charged with intimidating a police officer and using telecommunications network equipment to commit an offence.  The court was told Hussein was employed by Chubb Security as a security guard at the Premier's home. Police alleged acting Inspector Peter Benic, an officer attached to the Premier's Department, spoke to Hussein about sleeping on the job.  (Smh.com)

Parklea Correctional Centre
Parklea, Australia
GEO Group
Jul 20, 2017 dailymail.co.uk

Hidden inside televisions, toilet bowls and SANDWICHES: Dramatic footage shows the extraordinary lengths prisoners go to as they conceal their drugs and phones in jail

Drugs and mobile phones have been found inside televisions, toilet systems and even sandwiches at a notorious Sydney jail. The New South Wales prison system was sent into crisis mode earlier this month when Parklea inmate Carl Walton shared a now-infamous video from inside his cell. The shocking footage prompted Corrective Services NSW to send its own team into the privately run prison, which has now seen its second raid in as many weeks. Dramatic footage shows officers storming into a cell and gang-tackling an inmate to his bed before conducting a search.   In another cell, authorities are seen retrieving two mobile phones from a toilet bowl, while drugs were found inside another inmate's tuna and baked bean sandwich. Nine phones, three charges, 60 green and white capsules, 11 heart-shaped capsules, a strip of buprenorphine and 50g of tobacco were uncovered in Monday's raid. Seven inmates were placed in segregation and are expected to face charges relating to the contraband. Minister for Corrections David Elliott warned it was 'only the beginning' of a swift response to Walton's video, which showed him flaunting weapons and bragging about his stash of drugs. Contraband was found inside another inmate's tuna and baked bean sandwich. 'I was appalled when I saw the inmate's video and we immediately advised the operator, GEO Group, that we would be sending in our own team,' Mr Elliott said. 'We conducted an intelligence-based sweep of the centre, seizing mobile phones and tobacco from a number of cells – and this is only the beginning.' Walton's video, which quickly went viral, showed him holding a knife, a 'slasher' razor and the drug ice inside his Parklea prison cell.  He claimed he was filming himself on a mobile phone given to him by a prison guard. Walton said he had 'messed up the system' for some inmates by sharing the video, but revealed he did it to highlight what he claimed to be rampant drug use in prison. 'Jail messes people up. I never used to touch drugs until jail, when I went in I got on this and I got on that. I couldn't escape it,' he told The Daily Telegraph last week. Walton, a former Bandido bikie, said he had no idea the video would cause such a stir. 'I turned on my email ­account and everyone was messaging me about it... The young ones inside might thank me for it but the ones on long sentences won't,' he said. Walton's video showed him holding a knife, a 'slasher' razor and the drug ice inside his Parklea prison cell.  When the footage emerged, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin spoke with GEO Group officials  to discuss security and safety concerns. 'I have just met with GEO, and told them I am sending in a public sector Governor to lead a review of the centre. 'The Governor will lead a team that will oversee all major decisions made by GEO management and also review practices there.' Commissioner Severin said at the time the review was expected to take a minimum of four weeks.

Jul 10, 2017 dailytelegraph.com.au
Gang-run fight clubs in private prison where inmates were encouraged to ‘fight to the death’
An “appalled” prisons commissioner is sending in an elite team to take over the privately-run Parklea Correctional Centre if necessary in the wake of the Youtube security scandal. Commissioner Peter Severin said this was the first time this action had been taken at any jail in NSW. A governor from the public section will lead the team and have the power to veto decisions. He said that when he met with bosses of the GEO Group, which runs the jail, this morning they were very apologetic. He revealed that the video made on a mobile phone was probably recorded in August last year when the two inmates were in the same maximum security cell. One has since been parolled but the other, who is now in a different jail, also had his new cell searched over the weekend after the video was uploaded to Youtube. “This is a very serious matter,” Commissioner Severin said. “I have just met with GEO and told them I am sending in a public sector governor to lead a review of the centre. “The governor will lead a team that will oversee all major decisions made by GEO management and also review practices there.” He said he was appalled when the video was brought to his attention late on Friday. WEEKLY prison fight clubs and self-filmed vision of a prisoner showing off a knife and ice were proof private-run prisons were ‘breeding crime,’ a union claimed today. The prison service went into meltdown today after the shocking footage emerged - with prisons boss Peter Severin ordering crisis talks to try and work out how the maximum security prisoner managed to get hold of such deadly weapons inside Parklea jail. To make matters worse, it is believed Corrective Services Minister David Elliott is away on holiday, leaving the government floundering as it tries to grapple with the scandal. Private prison operators have a history of security problems around the world including in New Zealand where prisoners held weekly fight clubs. Serco, which is part of the consortium which has won the bid to run the new prison to be built outside Grafton, lost its contract to run a Mt Eden jail in Auckland after footage emerged of the gang-run clubs which encouraged some people to fight to the death. As well as the weekend’s debacle where a maximum security inmate at Parklea Correctional Centre filmed himself with drugs and weapons on a mobile phone inside his cell, it shows that private companies should not be running the state’s jails, Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little said today. “The only way we find out about these issues is by inmates filming themselves - what sort of system is that?” Mr Little said. “There is no transparency or accountability in private prisons. “No private company should be profiting from crime. “These poorly managed, under resourced prisons are just incubators for worse problems that are later unleashed back into society. “Society can’t afford to privatise prisons.” He said that successful correctional facilities in Nowra, Cessnock, Kempsey and Wellington proved that if governments invested the money, they will get results. Serco is one of the companies behind the Northern Pathways Consortium, which has been chosen by the Berejikilan Government to run a new privately operated Grafton prison. Serco tried to block the release of the official report into the Mt Eden fiasco but was overruled by the New Zealand High Court. It led to the government taking control of Mt Eden again. Sydney’s Parklea jail is run by another private operator, GEO Group, which has still not commented. The company is so secretive it will not reveal who its media spokesperson is but said they would “call back”. The Daily Telegraph online is still waiting. “We’re falling behind New Zealand here,” Mr Little said. The GEO Group Australia as manager of Parklea Correctional Centre takes any security breach extremely seriously. We welcome the support of the Commissioner and Corrective Services NSW as we review our operations to ensure that the centre operates safely and securely. Opposition Leader Luke Foley is demanding a massive increase in prison guards, accusing the state government of allowing our prisons to become “awash with dangerous weapons, hard drugs and mobile phones”. “This morning we see confirmation of that – prisoners are now flaunting it, making home movies, making their own YouTube clips showing off their weaponary and their stash of drugs,” he added. “What’s the response of the government? No-one’s available to talk. The prisons minister is away, who’s the acting prisons minister? Where’s the premier?”


Jul 9, 2017 dailymail.co.uk
EXCLUSIVE: Prisoner films himself with ice, a knife and a 'slasher' razor blade inside Parklea jail – and claims he was given the contraband by a GUARD
Shocking footage has emerged of a prisoner holding a knife and 'slasher' razor while inside his jail cell. In a video obtained by Daily Mail Australia, the inmate also says he has the drug 'ice' in his possession. The vision was captured at the Parklea Correctional Centre, in Sydney's west, which is privately operated by GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd. Filming himself on a mobile phone, the man claims the contraband was given to him by prison guards. 'Recording inside of Parklea Correctional Centre. On a day-to-day basis this place is a dead set joke,' the prisoner can be heard saying in the video. 'Right know I'm in my cell, I've got a mobile phone. Why have I got a mobile phone? It's because screws are bringing mobile phones into the jail.' Man, 22, charged with murder after father-of-two was stabbed... He continues to question why he has been allowed to walk around his cell while showing off the contraband on camera. 'Why am I carrying around a knife? Why does that need to be in my hand at this point in time?' he asks. 'Why have I got a slasher? Why do I need to slash people?' The prisoner continues to hold up a number of other items to the camera, including a metal bar which he says came off a television. 'That there alone will rip skin, damage ya [sic],' he said. He then displays a small plastic bag which he says contains the drug 'ice'. 'Why have I got it, because I can,' the prisoner said. In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, Corrective Services NSW said they viewed the incident as a very serious breach of security and have immediately launched a multi-team investigation. 'CSNSW is meeting with the operator of Parklea Correctional Centre, GEO Group, [on Monday] to discuss security and safety concerns,' the statement said. 'The Security Operations Group [on Saturday] conducted a targeted search operation, with 40 staff and nine detection-K9s at Parklea Correctional Centre, focusing on a number of cells in the maximum-security section on the prison.' The statement added the search found four mobile phones and chargers, steroid tablets and a number of other contraband items, with investigations continuing. 'CSNSW takes a zero-tolerance approach and uses a range of methods to track down and confiscate contraband,' the statement said. 'Searches for illegal and banned items are conducted by centre staff on a day-to-day basis on prisoners, visitors, cells and all common areas, in addition to searches by the specialist Security Operations Group, including the K9 unit. 'Inmates go to extraordinary lengths to introduce contraband. Methods include internal secretion, visitor smuggling and lobbing of packages over perimeter fences. Any suggestions that contraband is introduced by staff are immediately investigated.' NSW Corrective Services Minister David Elliott vowed no stone will be left unturned as the incident is investigated. 'I was horrified when I saw the YouTube video and immediately called for an investigation,' Mr Elliott said. 'I have asked CSNSW to review the contract to see what penalties could be imposed if there has been a failure by the operator. In May, prison officers intercepted contraband which outsiders had tried to smuggle into the facility. Four mobile phones stuffed inside a one lite carton of milk, tobacco, white powder and flick knives were among the items seized in the area between the centre's perimeter fence and the prison walls. Three months earlier, a 27-year-old inmate at the Parklea Correctional Centre was rushed to hospital after he was stabbed in the neck by another prisoner. The facility was also forced to change numerous locks throughout the complex after a prisoner allegedly stole a set of keys in December last year. And the maximum security centre was embroiled in a staff attack at the beginning of 2016 when 40 prisoners attacked guards. Officers had to barricade themselves inside a safe room while special ops detained the inmates.

Jul 16, 2016 dailytelegraph.com.au
Parklea Jail inmate Mahmoud Allam’s family want answers after staph infection death
THE family of a young ­prisoner who died from a golden staph infection are ­demanding answers, claiming he begged authorities to take him to a hospital for at least five days. Mahmoud Allam’s sister Amal said the “healthy 28-year-old” had contracted the infection at Parklea Correctional Centre before his death on June 18. He was kept at the ­privately-run facility for five days despite complaining he was ill. He was eventually taken to Blacktown Hospital after he “collapsed” in his cell. Allam was then transferred to the intensive care unit at Westmead, where he died. His mother, who visited him the night before he died, said he had been pleading for help for five days while in jail “but no one listened”. Mahmoud Allam died after contracting a staph infection in prison. Amal Allam said her brother was taken to Parklea for breaking parole and had previously served three years for a robbery offence. “I understand that prisoners, they’ve done wrong ... but you can’t give up on them and he didn’t deserve to die that young,” she said. “We can’t sleep at night. We’re angry, we’re puzzled — it is heartbreaking.” Ms Allam said they ­wanted answers and were pursuing legal action. All deaths in custody are subject to a mandatory ­inquest. “I think he caught it (golden staph) in prison,” she said. “They said it had started off with a pimple and it has spread to his brain — and then it spread to his body.” Nada Allam and Youssef Allam, the parents of Mahmoud Allam, along with his sister Amal Allam, Uncle Mohammad Yassine and brother Mohammad Allam all wants answers about Mahmoud’s death. Picture Craig Greenhill Allam’s death comes after The Daily Telegraph this month revealed there were fears of a disease outbreak in the state’s bulging prisons ­because of overcrowding. In response to the disease threat, the Baird government created new powers so the chief health officer could ­intervene in the case of jail outbreaks. Western Sydney Health refused to ­comment about Allam’s death. Parklea Correctional Centre, which is run by GEO Group Australia, said the death was “with the coroner”. GEO is a subsidiary of American company The GEO Group. It runs five jails in Australia and 104 facilities worldwide. In November last year an inmate died in mysterious circumstances at Junee Correctional Centre, which the company also operates.

Oct 15, 2015 tenplay.com.au

Inmate moved to Supermax after using mobile phone in Parklea prison

Specialist officers from Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) have conducted a dawn raid at Parklea Correctional Centre in relation to the use of a mobile phone to access Instagram. Wesam Hamze, who has links to Brothers 4 Life, has been using the phone to post images and brag about alleged drug drops throughout the prison, the Daily Telegraph reports. Hamze used the phone to take pictures of guards, and tell his followers that the jail operators were clueless to operations within the prison. “I was getting a bottle of xans a week to the boys in kitchen and a shitloadof 80ml oxys when I was doing weekends there" one Instagram comment reads, the Daily Telegraph reports. Hamze is the first cousin of Brothers 4 Life founder Bassam Hamzy. "Mobile phones are a challenge for prison systems across the world," said Assistant Commissioner forSecurity & Intelligence Mark Wilson.  "Corrective Services NSW takes a zero tolerance approach to any inmate found with a phone." "CSNSW is investigating some of the claims made on Instagram including allegations about the smuggling of contraband into the prison, which is operated by the GEO Group," a CSNSW statement reads. CSNSW has also confirmed "a security crackdown on mobile phones in all prisons, with increased searches and the recent announcement that full body scanners will be introduced into all maximum and medium security prisons by the end of this year." Hazme has now been moved to a Supermax facility.

April 11, 2011 Blacktown Sun
Police have revealed that two inmates who escaped from Parklea prison last month are still on the run. The escapees broke free from the prison’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation wing on March 20, just two months after three inmates escaped from the jail’s minimum security wing in January. Police said three inmates cut a hole in mesh fencing before climbing onto a roof and scaling a large fence to escape the institution. One of the inmate was arrested at an address at Windsor the next day but two are still on the run. Union representatives said the privately-run prison is under staffed and resources have been cut to increase profits. Following the recapture of three escapees in February, Corrective Services commissioner Ron Woodham ordered that all 73 minimum security prisoners be moved to other NSW jails while the security was upgraded. Problems at the jail still persist and the latest escapes will again bring the operator GEO Group’s ability to run the jail in to question. The company referred all questions to the commissioner, who could not be contacted yesterday.

February 22, 2011 Blacktown Sun
THE third and final escapee from Parklea prison has been captured and now faces a stay in Goulburn's Supermax jail. The convicted armed robber, Dion Dugal, 18, was found by police at a house in Rymill Road, Tregear, on Thursday. Police alleged he was found with a wallet that was not his and have charged him with possession of goods suspected of being stolen as well as with escaping from custody. Dugal escaped from Parklea jail's minimum security wing during the night of January 18 and 19, with Raymond Fletcher, 25, and Ronny Vinaisi, 30, who have also been recaptured. The escapes raised questions about how the jail was being run by contractor GEO Group. Latu Sailosi from the Public Services Association told the Sun the jail was understaffed and that union officials had been blocked from accessing information about staff assaults. "Some of the things that have come to us since the jail has been privatised is that staff (to prisoner) ratios have been cut in half," Mr Sailosi said. "With private companies, obviously the goal is to make money from the venture, so things have to be cut." GEO Group diverted all media inquiries to Correctional Services NSW, which still owns the jail's buildings and infrastructure.

January 24, 2011 Rouse Hill Times
PARKLEA Correctional Centre’s minimum security wing could be vacant for up to six months as it undergoes a major upgrade after three prisoners escaped last week. NSW Corrective Services commissioner Ron Woodham has ordered the 73 minimum security inmates be moved out, and internal reviews of the escapes and the classification of all prisoners from the unit. The inmates were moved to three other Sydney jails on Thursday night. The first stage of the upgrade will include new perimeter fencing. Internal security upgrades will also occur. The evacuation come as the Public Service Association, the union representing prison officers, calls for a full review of the jail. Parklea is privately run by the GEO Group Australia, which took over from the state government in 2009. The association’s spokesman Stewart Little said there were obvious staffing issues. “A spate of escapes ... should be ringing alarm bells loud and clear that privatisation isn’t working at Parklea,” he said. “Yet all Ron Woodham is suggesting is a review of the classification of every minimum security prisoner - what about a review of GEO’s contract?”

January 19, 2011 Sydney Morning Herald
THE Corrective Services Commissioner, Ron Woodham, has relocated 73 minimum-security prisoners from the privately operated Parklea prison to government-run jails as questions mount over who is responsible for the embarrassing escape of three inmates this week. The 73 prisoners, who were moved to Parramatta, Windsor and Silverwater jails late on Thursday, will remain in the prisons until internal structures and perimeter fencing at Parklea's minimum-security wing have been upgraded. Parklea prison holds up to 800 sentenced and remand inmates, and those with a maximum-security classification remain. Raymond Vance Fletcher, Dion Dugal, and Ronny Vinaisi, who had been working in the grounds with limited supervision on Tuesday, waited until night to ''break through the ceiling, climb down a pipe and then over the chainwire fence'', Mr Woodham said yesterday. Mr Woodham told 2GB he was ''embarrassed'' by the escape and had told the private operator, GEO Group, he was ''not happy''. ''No doubt there's going to be some financial consequences for them,'' he said, indicating the company would not be paid for the 73 prisoners. However, sources say that with no expense for food and staff to guard the inmates, the company does not face significant loss. GEO Group is understood to be responsible only for the management of the facility, not the buildings and structures. Mr Woodham said the government would conduct the upgrade. The current facilities had housed minimum-security inmates for about three years before GEO Group took over its management in November 2009, said Matt Bindley, the chairman of the Prison Officers' Vocational Branch of the Public Service Association. ''There weren't the kind of escapes [back then] … It's a problem with the levels of supervision,'' Mr Bindley said.

Perth Immigration Centre
Perth, Australia
Group 4

February 19, 2004
A GROUP of 17 detainees at Perth's immigration detention centre have started a hunger strike to protest about the withdrawal of a work program.  The Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) said the detainees were told by centre manager Group 4 yesterday that jobs normally performed by detainees in exchange for redeemable points would be outsourced. 
RRAN spokesman Peter Wilkie said Group 4 had wanted to cut the number of points awarded for certain tasks, and when detainees protested, the jobs were withdrawn.  (The Australian)

Pontville Immigration Detention Center
Pontville, Tasmania
Serco

November 7, 2011 ABC News
A Tasmanian Liberal Senator has slammed the sacking of security guards at an immigration detention centre in southern Tasmania. Eric Abetz says 36 people have been dismissed from the Pontville facility, north of Hobart, which is currently housing about 200 male detainees. He says the Federal Government promised the centre would create much needed jobs in the area and it is yet another broken promise. "Tasmanians were promised lots of jobs and that it would be of real benefit to the Tasmanian community." "Today we have witnessed 36 people losing their employment and the Tasmanian people have a right to feel betrayed," he said. Serco, the centre's managers, insist staffing levels are adequate. A spokesman says the security guards were contractors employed on a temporary basis, while surveillance systems were brought online.

Port Hedland
Kimberley, Australia
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut)
December 11, 2003
A Port Hedland detainee has vowed to take legal action after being placed in isolation and allegedly bashed as punishment for a riot in which he was cleared of involvement.  Asylum seeker Babar Iqbal Choudry, 40, said Australasian Correctional Management guards had handcuffed, punched and kicked him and refused him medical treatment in the Port Hedland detention centre's Juliet isolation block.  Speaking from the centre yesterday, Mr Choudry said he had been released on Monday after management reviewed a video of the disturbance last Thursday. "They told me I did nothing wrong," he said.  He said he would take legal action after "being treated like a criminal and like a terrorist". He called for an inquiry into the treatment of the detainees.  ALP president Carmen Lawrence has called for an independent inquiry into the handling of the disturbance, sparked when a schoolgirls' visit was cancelled on the grounds they could be at risk of being raped.  Mr Choudry said 24 detainees still in the isolation block had gone on a hunger strike over their treatment.  (The Age)

October 17, 2003
A 16-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker has slashed his arms and chest and staged a roof-top protest at the Port Hedland detention centre, saying his brother was tricked into signing papers to return home.  Abdullah Kadem and his family gained media attention this year when they attempted to leave Australia but were rejected by Thailand and Vietnam.  Abdullah and his father, Abdul, this week began a roof-top protest with five other asylum seekers after older brother, Mohammed, 18, signed an agreement to return home.  Adbullah said immigration department officials told Mohammed the papers were for a bridging visa. Mohammed was flown to the Perth detention centre on Wednesday without his family's knowledge. When he arrived, he was told he had signed deportation papers instead, Abdullah said.  (The Age)

January 15, 2003
The Federal Government has flagged the closure of the Port Hedland detention centre in the country's remote north-west as numbers in the centre and boats failed to reach Australia.  The spokesman said that for Woomera and Port Hedland detention centres to be closed, the residential housing project that accommodates children and women from Woomera would have to be replaced by another residential project.  "If we can get a residential housing project at one of the other centres, and possibly Baxter is most likely, or the preferred, that would pave the way for Woomera to be mothballed," he said.  (The Age)

January 8, 2003
The recent spate of fires in Australia's detention centres and the government's rejection of calls for an inquiry are symptoms of a fundamental malaise in Australian public policy.  The Howard Government, with little political opposition, has been able to build on the policy initiated by its Labor predecessor of mandatory detention combined with remote detention centres in such places as Port Hedland and Woomera.  Against this background it should be noted that while European Australia began as a penal colony and advanced to a federation, in many respects it never completely de-colonised.  The policy of indefinite mandatory detention, often in remote locations, was inevitably going to lead to serious problems for the inmates and staff.  The central problems with privatised prisons is that they lack the accountability of a government-run organisation.  Indeed, one of the driving political motives for such privatisations is to distance the government from problems. They can say it is a matter for the contractor.  This is to be contrasted with problems in public prisons, where a fire such as the one started by inmates in Jika Jika in 1987 led to the closure of the facility, immediately.  Jim Kennan was the attorney-general and minister for corrections who ordered the closure of the Jika Jika maximum security section of Pentridge Prison immediately after the 1987 riot and fatal fire.  (The Age)

January 7, 2003
A workplace safety investigation at the Port Hedland detention centre has raised concerns about fire safety, the presence of asbestos in buildings and the security of staff. Fire extinguishers were missing from accommodation blocks, fire hoses were used to water gardens and staff training was inadequate, the report said.  Their investigation was conducted in October, two months before the series of fires that caused millions of dollars damage at Port Hedland and other detention centres in the days after Christmas.  It was ordered by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission's senior deputy president, Brian Lacy, when he was dealing with an industrial dispute over the safety concerns of officers at Port Hedland.  The officers, employed by detention centre operator Australasian Correctional Management, went on strike for 12 days last September.  (The Age)

January 3, 2003
It was meant to be the new, friendlier face of Australia's asylum seeker policy. Although an electrified fence runs around the outside, and security cameras are everywhere except in private areas, the rooms are modern. There is more grass and play area for children than in other centres. But today part of Baxter lies in ruins, and along with it any hope of an easy resolution to the fate of Australia's asylum seekers. Just after midnight on Friday last week a fire broke out in an empty room in Red 1, a men's compound at Baxter. Although detainees cannot possess matches or lighters, arsonists may have made a lighter from electric wiring or a toaster. They had mattresses and newspapers - plenty of fuel. Two nights later, a bigger fire was lit in Red 1. Staff tried to put it out but did not have enough water. Fire crews arrived, people were banging on doors to wake those still asleep. Many detainees were collapsing from smoke inhalation. At about 3pm that day more fires were lit. Desperate to get out but told not to, detainees broke down the gate and tried to break out of the compound. Guards in riot gear confronted them. When some detainees were asked why they had started the fire they replied: "We were trying to get away. The centre is making us crazy." By Sunday night the fires were spreading, first to Port Hedland detention centre, later to Woomera, Christmas Island and Villawood. The "ferocity" of the actions took guards by surprise, an ACM employee said. On December 17, newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne published the same article. Carrying headlines such as "Five Star Asylums" and "It's not all mriots at our Club Fed", it reported that detainees enjoyed luxuries such as gyms, Foxtel, DVDs and yoga classes. The article, and a similar one in a Port Hedland newspaper, made some people in the Port Hedland detention centre "very angry," says the town's Uniting Church minister, Bev Fabb. She says most of the article's information was wrong for Port Hedland. The article also troubled Harry Minas of the Federal Government's Independent Detention Advisory Group. Neither Professor Minas nor Ms Fabb suggest a direct link between the article and the arson but many asylum seeker advocates feel the article helped to exacerbate what one advocate describes as a "huge deterioration" in the mood of detainees in the past month. A shift is under way in the centres. Numbers are dwindling. No boat has reached Australia for 14 months. Baxter, Woomera and Port Hedland are way below capacity. On New Year's Eve the Immigration Department handed a letter to 488 detainees in Baxter, Port Hedland and Woomera. The letter said most of them had been rejected as refugees and had "no right to remain in this country . . . You can choose to bring your detention to an end at any time by leaving Australia". According to what an Iranian detainee told asylum seeker advocate Ian Knowles, a group of men, infuriated by the letter, marched to the immigration office and demanded to be deported straight away. Guards in riot gear pushed them back to a compound. ACM confirmed that tear gas was used. Mr Minas adds: "People are saying, 'It's their (the detainees') own bloody fault', and in a way it is. "But people have to ask what makes this group prefer be in a detention centre environment rather than to go go home. "They are not choosing a soft life in Australia." (The Age)  

December 29, 2002
A deliberately lit fire has forced the evacuation of a residential block at Port Hedland Detention Centre in Western Australia.  Fire broke out in the India residential block at Port Hedland some time before 1.45am (AEDT) today, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) said today.  The blaze follows deliberately lit fires which destroyed large parts of the Baxter Detention Centre at Port Augusta in South Australia over the weekend.  Some Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) staff were treated for minor smoke inhalation but there were no other reports of injuries, he said.  Meanwhile, police were today questioning asylum seekers suspected of starting up to five separate fires which caused $2.25 million damage at the Baxter Detention Centre, opened only in September.  (The Age)

December 10, 2002
The international group Human Rights Watch issued a damning report into Australia's treatment of boat people yesterday.  The report was released on the same day as Australia's Human Rights and Equal Ppportunity Commission released four critical reports into complaints of mistreatment by asylum seekers.  In one report, the commission said a Lebanese citizen, Hassan Ghomwari, who overstayed his visa and was held in Villawood detention centre, had been denied medical treatment which met minimum international standards.  Another report, which concerned complaints by five asylum seekers who had been held in the notorious "J block" at the Port Hedland detention centre, said their rights to be treated with "humanity and respect for their inherent dignity" had been breached.  (Sidney Morning Herald)

October 1, 2002
The Industrial Relations Commission has backed union claims that alleged weapon stockpiling by inmates at some of Australia's detention centres could endanger staff.  The commission, which also sought to inspect the Port Hedland centre in Western Australia, found there was a workplace dispute over the issue.  The commission's senior deputy president Brian Lacy yesterday acknowledged claims by the Australian Workers Union that inmates at Port Hedland were "manufacturing and stockpiling weapons", which could threaten the safety of detention officers. Mr Lacy also noted union claims that the company that controls detention centres nationwide, Australasian Correctional Management, was "not taking any or adequate steps to protect its employees from detainee threats and assaults"."  The finding comes as Port Hedland staff enter their seventh day of industrial action. Up to 50 officers at Woomera detention centre also stopped work yesterday over similar safety fears. Counsel for ACM, Ian Douglas, QC, told the commission the company did not believe safety was an industrial issue.  Mr Lacy wanted to inspect the Port Hedland centre to determine whether staff safety was in jeopardy. However, ACM has said it will appeal against Mr Lacy's finding of a dispute and has refused to take part in the inspection process.  Last Tuesday more than 50 Port Hedland officers and staff at the Christmas Island centre stopped work over safety issues, including understaffing and claims that detainees were stockpiling weapons.  In his decision, Mr Lacy criticised ACM's attitude to the commission. "If its conduct throughout the course of the matter proves to be as it appears from the record, it might reasonably be regarded that ACM has acted appallingly... It appears from the record that ACM saw the commission as a way to secure a return of its employees to work without any consideration of the merits of their claims about fears for their safety," he said.  AWU national president Bill Shorten said it was "outrageous" that ACM had chosen to effectively block the commission's desire to inspect the Port Hedland centre. "They are a law unto themselves.  A law within a law."  (The Age)

September 25, 2002
A strike by detention centre guards at Port Hedland has widened, with officers walking off the job at the Christmas Island immigration facility. Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten said 14 of a total of 26 guards at the offshore camp walked out over the same safety issues as their colleagues at Port Hedland. Sixty Port Hedland officers began industrial action last night, demanding that the camp's managers, Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), conduct a weapons search. Guards claim detainees have been fashioning weapons from chairs, beds, sticks and other objects, and have been stashing them away inside the compound. The union also wants minimum agreed staffing levels per shift and an assurance that detainees will in future be escorted on any trips out of the centre by more than one officer. He said AWU detention centre officers at Perth, Villawood, Maribyrnong and at the immigration detention centre in Auckland had sent messages of support to staff at Port Hedland and Christmas Island. Mr Shorten said the officers would not return to their duties unless their demands were met. "There is a culture of denial within ACM." The AWU today said the centre manager and operations manager at the newly-opened Baxter had both resigned in the past month. (The Age)

September 24, 2002
Fears that detainees are stockpiling home-made weapons have sparked a walkout by guards at Western Australia's Port Hedland detention centre. Australian Workers Union WA official Paul Asplin said detainees had fashioned weapons from broken-up steel and wooden beds, bookshelves and "anything (they) can get their hands on". He said the 50 workers walked off the job today and would not return until a weapons inspection was carried out by the centre's managers, Australasian Correctional Management (ACM). A skeleton staff of five was left watching the detainees, Mr Asplin said. Mr Asplin said the centre's chief executive officer had denied knowledge of the arms, despite detention centre officers video taping evidence over the past two weeks and passing it to management. "ACM has got to lift its game and acknowledge the Health and Safety Act," Mr Asplin said. "They can't ensure the guards' safety and for budget constraints they don't want to." Mr Asplin said workers also wanted ACM to employ two guards, rather than one, when escorting high-risk detainees outside the centre. The request follows the escape of a detainee on a visit to the dentist last month, when accompanied by a single guard. (Smh.com.au)  

August 23, 2002
The Port Hedland immigration detention centre was "a ship that has several holes in the hull and is sinking fast", a report has found. Lives were being risked, with blocked escape routes, combustible material lying in corridors and broken smoke detectors and hydrants posing a fire risk The fire detection system was so bad that "smoke from a fire may not be detected and raise an alarm", according to the report, carried out last year by consultant Steve Broadbelt and obtained by the Herald. Other faults singled out included fire hydrants that were "leaking badly", fire hose reels locked in cabinets to which guards had no keys, no fire extinguishers in the mess kitchen, and emergency lighting systems in disrepair. "It is considered that if the referred deficiencies in the refurbishment are not implemented, and all the other fire safety systems are not immediately reinstated to 100 per cent operational status, the scenario at the [centre] would suggest a real potential for loss of life," it said. There are 138 asylum seekers at the Port Hedland centre. The Broadbelt report classified problems at the centre on a rating of urgency, with P1 - matters that were "a serious direct threat to the occupants" and should be "rectified immediately" - the most urgent. P1 ratings were given to five problems, including a wall that had been built at the top of a stairway preventing escape along a path leading to an emergency exit, and missing or inoperable fire detectors that had been covered in plastic food wrap or filled with toothpaste. "The apparent acceptance of this situation by the staff would suggest that this has continued for some time," the report said. It noted that emergency alarm sounders were out of commission, foam mattresses were stored in corridors and internal stairways, and, according to staff, that there had been no evacuation exercises for "at least the last two years". (Sidney Morning Herald)

August 5, 2002
A detainee from the Port Hedland immigration centre in Western Australia is still at large after escaping on Friday while visiting a dentist in the town.  Despite three days of searching, police say they have no idea of the whereabouts of the detainee, a 37-year-old man of Middle Eastern origin who escaped from a security guard assigned to him for the dental trip.  "All we know is he had one guard with him and whilst there he took off.  As soon as we were advised we dispatched a vehicle to look for him," Sergeant Hush said.  "We liaised with ACM (Australian Correctional Management) trying to get a bit of intelligence as to where he could be, who might help him, and came up with a negative result.  An immigration department spokeswoman said the department was investigating the circumstances of the escape.  (Smh.com.au)

May 15, 2001
Friday's riot at the Port Hedland detention centre was triggered by fears for the safety of handcuffed Iranian asylum-seeker who resisted being taken into isolation.  Claims that the man had been beaten by Australasian Correctional Management guards were denied yesterday by the Federal Government.  A spokesperson said a misunderstanding by detainees led to the riot.  The incident happened when five men were removed from the Port Hedland centre, a converted mining camp in the Kimberley about 220 kilometers from Broome, and taken to police lock-up in Port Hedland.  Asem Judeh, chairman of the Palestinian Refugees and Exile Awareness Association in Melbourne, said he was rung twice from the Port Hedland camp by a source who told him one of the men was beaten.  In response the riot had broken out, he said.  Mr. Judeh said he was told the person was aged 15 or younger and this contributed to the situation.  During the riot asylum-seekers threw stones and damaged buildings.  The group was brought under control when ACM staff sprayed tear gas.  Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said yesterday there was no need for an inquiry into the riot.  (The Age) 

Port Phillip Prison
Port Phillip,  Australia
Group 4/Global Solutions (formerly run by Group 4 formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Feb 22, 2017 heraldsun.com.au
Port Phillip Prison inmate dies in suspected drug overdose
A MAXIMUM security prisoner has died from after a suspected drug overdose of prescription medication. Sources said the prisoner was known to hoard prescription drugs. It is understood he was on various medication, but was not taking it which enabled him to stockpile the drugs. The sources believe that may have played a part in the inmate’s death. The prison insider said the inmate was found about 7.30am last week when he was not present for roll call. Corrections Victoria spokes­man Michael Gleeson confirmed that the inmate was discovered last week. “A 40-year-old prisoner was found dead in his cell at Port Phillip Prison on 14 February,” he said. But Corrections Victoria declined to confirm if the death was due to an overdose. Brett McMerrin, spokesman for G4S which runs the jail, said: “As with any death in custody, the matter will be investigated by Victoria Police on behalf of the State Coroner, who will formally determine the cause of death”. Controversies have rocked Port Phillip prison over the last year including prisoner deaths and guards being stood down. It was revealed last year that balls with large quantities of the drug ice, small mobile phones and tobacco were being thrown over fence at Port Phillip prison during daylight hours. It was claimed up to 15 balls a day were thrown. In another case a prison officer was stood down after allegedly lacing an inmate’s milk with industrial grade disinfectant. Prison staff were alerted after several prisoners complained about the taste of the milk. Port Phillip, in Truganina, is Victoria’s largest maximum security prison housing more than 1000 inmates.

Jan 8, 2017 heraldsun.com.au
Prisoner stabbed in neck at Port Phillip Prison for allegedly sleeping with another inmate’s girlfriend
A PRISONER has been stabbed inside Victoria’s most secure jail after alleging sleeping with another inmate’s girlfriend.
  The Herald Sun can reveal Michael Cole was stabbed in the neck with a makeshift shiv inside Port Phillip prison last Thursday afternoon. Mr Cole was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital and remains in a serious but stable condition. Sources say that Mr Cole was returning to his unit when he was confronted by the angry prisoner, wielding the improvised knife. Police were alerted at 2.45pm and detectives from Wyndham criminal investigations unit are currently reviewing evidence. Port Phillip prison is operated by G4S, a British-based private security contractor. G4S spokesman Brett McMerrin confirmed the attack and said police were investigating the matter. “G4S can confirm that a 26-year-old prisoner was assaulted and suffered stab wounds at Port Phillip Prison on the 5th of January,” Mr McMerrin said. “Victoria Police has been notified and are investigating the incident.” Opposition corrections spokesman Edward O’Donohue condemned the attack and said that Victoria’s prison system was getting out of hand. “The chaos continues in the prison system,” Mr O’Donohue said. “With four corrections ministers in just four months, managing the prison system has been an afterthought for the Andrews Government.” Mr Cole is currently in custody for drug offences, dangerous driving, resisting arrest and reckless conduct endangering life. The alleged drug dealer is due to reappear in court in January. The incident follows a similar stabbing at the prison in November that saw another inmate in his 20s rushed to hospital.

Dec 31, 2016 dailymail.co.uk
Australia: G4S inmate dies from drugs
-- Prisoner, 21, died after he swallowed a balloon filled with the deadly drug ice and it burst in his bowel - after his girlfriend      smuggled it into jail for him.
-- A 21-year-old prisoner swallowed a balloon filled with the deadly drug ice
-- Cain Hutchinson was on remand at Port Philip Prison in Victoria
-- The father died after the balloon burst in his bowel as the drug leaked into his gut
-- The inquest heard he called his girlfriend to bring drugs into the prison for him
-- The following day, he was found vomiting and shaking on his bed in his cell
-- Hours later, he went into a cardiac arrest before he died in an ambulance
-- A 21-year-old prisoner died after a balloon filled with the deadly drug ice he had swallowed burst in his bowel, an inquest has heard.
Cain Hutchinson, who was on remand at Port Philip Prison in Victoria, was found shaking and vomiting just hours before he was found unconscious after the drugs leaked into his gut. The Coroners Court of Victoria launched an inquest into his death to determine how he died after his girlfriend managed to smuggle the drugs into the prison. The young father had called his girlfriend to arrange for her to bring drugs into the prison for him the next day. His girlfriend visited the prison with their baby daughter and the balloon filled with methylamphetamine on June 6, 2015. She purchased a bag of pretzels and a drink from the vending machine to share with Hutchinson before she took their baby to the bathroom to change her nappy. She then placed the balloon in her hand while she was in the bathroom before she returned to her seat in the visiting area. When she took some pretzels from the bag, she dropped the balloon. Hutchinson then reached into the bag and placed the balloon into his mouth before he swallowed it down with orange juice. His girlfriend was stunned to see the mouth of juice he drank as she believed he was going to keep the balloon at the back of his throat so it would be easy to take it out once he returned to his cell. After his family left, he grabbed dinner and returned to cell to eat his food. On the morning of June 7, 2015, his cellmate found Hutchinson shivering on his bed. His cellmate decided to get him breakfast to make him feel better. When he returned with porridge, Hutchinson had locked himself in the cell and said he was on the toilet. Concerned for his welfare, other inmates gathered around his cell as they urged Hutchinson to open up the door. Hutchinson was initially suspected of having food poisoning because he had not mentioned anything about drugs to his fellow inmates. Far from getting better, Hutchinson was rushed to the prison's health unit to wait for an ambulance while other inmates were placed in lockdown. The coroner's report found Hutchinson went into a cardiac arrest as he was being carried into the ambulance - but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. Following day, the autopsy found an orange balloon containing a small clear plastic bag had spilled into the gut. Methylamphetamine was detected in his urine and amphetamines were found in his blood and also urine. A pathologist found the 'knot came partly undone causing the drugs that were contained in a small ziplock bag to leak out into the gut'. The coroner's report found that large doses of amphetamines could lead to agitation, hyperthermia, hallucination, convulsions, unconsciousness, respiratory or cardiac failure. Two days after his death, his girlfriend called the Wyndham Criminal Investigation Unit where she tearfully confessed she had supplied the balloon filled with drugs. During an interview with the coroner's investigator and a police officer the next day, she explained how she smuggled the drugs into the prison. In her taped interview with police, his girlfriend said Hutchinson had told her that he would be 'knocked' or would have to 'knock' others if she did not bring drugs into the prison. She pleaded guilty to charges of possessing methylamphetamine and introducing contraband to a prison. She was fined without conviction. After an internal management review, visitors who use the bathroom or change their baby's nappy will proceed as a non-contact visit.

Jul 26, 2014 dailymail.co.uk  

Inmates at a Victorian prison have threatened to not go into lock-down for the night, after a plumbing issue left them with over-flowing toilets and no fresh water. It is understood a planned water outage for maintenance at Port Phillip Prison on Saturday morning has become an extended supply outage. Some parts of the prison were still without running water well into Saturday night, and a union says this has created an unhygienic and potentially dangerous environment for inmates and staff. "Water supply remains disrupted at Port Phillip Prison," the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said in a statement to AAP late on Saturday. "Prisoners have threatened to not lock down because they are unable to flush their toilets or have access to clean drinking water." The union said staff had concerns about relying solely on fire extinguishers in the event of a fire, that there was no water for inmates to take medications and there were also concerns basic hygiene problems would get worse overnight. "Toilets are quite high after several uses," according to the statement. The prison is privately run by contractor G4S, and the union said it appeared the company did not have a contingency plan should the planned water maintenance issue run over-time. "It appears that there has been a lack of proper planning, and raises serious questions about why this private company continues to run this prison and enjoy the confidence of the state government," the CPSU says. A spokesperson for Victorian Corrections Minister Edward O'Donohue denied that some parts of the prison remained without running water. "Port Phillip Prison experienced a standard plumbing problem. It has now been repaired," the spokesperson said. Comment was not immediately available from G4S.


Jul 9, 2016 theage.com.au
Port Phillip prisoner may have died after ingesting smuggled drugs
A young prisoner died in hospital this week after allegedly smuggling drugs into the Port Phillip Prison and then ingesting the substance. A Corrections Victoria spokesman confirmed on Saturday that a 21-year-old Port Phillip Prison inmate died on July 6. He said that as the Coroner was investigating, Corrections Victoria was not in a position to confirm the cause of death. But a prison source told Fairfax Media the prisoner, who was housed in the high-security unit at Port Phillip, had appeared "under the influence", and before being taken to medical he was strip-searched by guards. The source said drugs fell out of his bottom as he was being searched, and the prisoner then allegedly ingested the drugs. The prisoner stopped breathing and was transferred to ICU at St Vincent's Hospital. The prison source did not know what type of drug was allegedly ingested. Port Phillip is operated by security company G4S. A spokesman for the union representing prison guards criticised the number of staff rostered at the maximum-security prison on weekends. "The private company's refusal to roster enough staff, especially intel officers, on weekends, leaves this site particularly vulnerable to contraband and this weakness is known across the system," the spokesman for the Community and Public Sector Union said. "Unfortunately, Corrections seem happy to have its operation at arm's length, but the private operator is failing Victorians." A G4S spokeswoman said the death was subject to a coronial inquest and Victoria Police were investigating on behalf of the Victorian Coroner, who would formally determine the cause of death. "We are therefore unable to make any further comment," she said. In response to the union's criticism of staffing at Port Phillip, she said "G4S has a minimum staffing level agreement with the CPSU". In June 2015 a 21-year-old inmate died at the prison, from a suspected methamphetamine overdose. Port Phillip, located in Truganina, is Victoria's largest prison and houses more than 1000 inmates.

Jul 4, 2016 heraldsun.com.au
Prison officers at Port Phillip Prison sacked over gun licences
FOUR officers from the maximum-security Port Phillip Prison have been sacked for not having proper firearms licences. The move follows an internal investigation at the privately run Truganina facility. A spokeswoman for operator G4S told the Herald Sun: “G4S confirms that following an internal investigation completed in May 2016, four correctional officers were subject to internal disciplinary action.” “The four officers were subsequently dismissed from G4S in June 2016,’’ she said. The Herald Sun understands the sackings relate to officers not having the appropriate firearms licence and allegedly falsifying related records but G4S did not provide further detail. A Corrections Victoria spokesman said the issue was a matter for the operator. “All contractors and private prison operators are required to meet the strict security and licensing regulations as required by law,’’ he said. “Corrections Victoria works closely with contractors and private prison operators to ensure these regulations are adhered to.” The Herald Sun in May revealed firearms licensing issues had triggered the sacking of a Port Phillip Prison officer. It was understood the issue of whether officers have the appropriate licence to take firearms off-site, such as when escorting prisoners to hospital or court, had been raised. The prison’s general manager resigned on June 10 but G4S confirmed this was not related to its investigation. Port Phillip Prison is Victoria’s largest maximum security prison with capacity for up to 1087 inmates. G4S operates it under contract to the Justice Department.

October 28, 2013 The Age Victoria

Pressure is mounting on the Napthine government to give the Auditor-General ''follow the dollar'' powers to scrutinise taxpayer-funded services and projects delivered by the private sector. It comes after staff from the Audit Office were unable to visit two private jails for a recent audit into drugs in Victorian prisons because their mandate did not extend to private-sector providers. Opposition corrections spokeswoman Jill Hennessy said the Auditor-General's office did not have the authority to visit Port Phillip Prison and Fulham Correctional Centre to audit drug prevention and detection controls. ''Government is increasingly providing services through the private sector. If the Auditor-General doesn't have these powers, we don't know what rorts might be occurring.'' She said there was no independent scrutiny of projects delivered through public-private partnerships, such as the $500 million Ravenhall Prison. New Victorian Auditor-General John Doyle has put ''follow the dollar'' powers high on his agenda, using his first annual report to call for an urgent overhaul of the Audit Act. ''Activities by third-party providers funded by government to achieve government objectives are currently beyond my mandate. In effect, spending of significant funds, including through public-private partnerships, are not subject to audit scrutiny.'' The Napthine government said it was in talks with the Auditor-General about reforming the Audit Act, which it has labelled a priority for 2013-14. The state financial watchdog has been pushing for ''follow the dollar'' powers for four years, with calls becoming more urgent as the government finances more projects through public-private partnerships and outsources services to the private sector. A 2010 parliamentary inquiry into the Audit Act recommended the watchdog be given ''explicit authority'' to access the systems and records of public-sector contractors and subcontractors who are paid by the government to deliver services. Former auditor Des Pearson warned in his final annual report that his ability to scrutinise taxpayer-funded projects had ''diminished rapidly''. A spokesman for Finance Minister Robert Clark said reforming the act was a priority for 2013-14. ''The government has already made clear … that it supports in principle amending the Audit Act to authorise the Auditor-General to access the systems and records of public sector contractors in appropriate circumstances.'' He said the watchdog had access to extensive public and private data, including random and targeted drug tests, positive result rates, seizure statistics, and prison capacity as part of his latest audit on drugs in prisons. The value of public-private partnerships in Victoria is anticipated to rise from $3 billion in 2012 to $7.9 billion in 2013.

May 29, 2011 Brisbane Times
A faulty prison intercom led to the lonely death of Vanessa Westcott's father, and compensation has brought scant solace, writes Peter Munro. IAN Westcott wrote to his daughter in fine cursive script from cell 428, Scarborough south unit, Port Phillip Prison, about how he would make it up to her one day. Keep studying, he would tell his child Vanessa, keep doing ''good things''. ''My dad taught me to think the world was a good place. He never told me it was fair, but he told me it was a good place,'' she says. That faith was tested by his last letter, discovered on a desk in his cell at 8.09am on Saturday, November 26, 2005. The 55-year-old's final words were scrawled across a lined A4 page: ''Asthma attack buzzed for help no response.'' He had died sitting on the cold cement floor with his back against a wall. A coronial inquest in 2009 pointed to a faulty 20¢ telephone pin in the single cell's "archaic" intercom system. The lonely death of Westcott - in the dark, trying to call for help - was preventable, the coroner found. Controversial prison operator G4S Australia has now settled Supreme Court proceedings brought by Vanessa and her mother, Lorraine, Westcott's ex-wife. It is thought to be the first time the world's largest private security company has compensated grieving relatives over a death in custody in Victoria. Corrections Victoria - which is believed to have been indemnified by G4S - and St Vincent's Correctional Health Services were also parties to last month's out-of-court deal, the terms of which are confidential. But Vanessa, 30, says the settlement has brought scant solace. "It's not like I've got any sense of justice or any sense of peace at all, because Dad's not here,'' she says. "Every time I think about it, I think how he was cold and he was blotchy and he was on the cement floor and he knew he was going to die because he wrote a note. He tried to get help and no one came, and for the rest of my life that is something I have got to deal with."

July 28, 2010 The Courier
A BALLARAT man whose partner stabbed him after he breached an intervention order did not appear in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday amid security concerns. Douglas John Farquhar, 32, was expected in court to face 11 charges. The charges included four counts of stalking another person and one count each of burglary, threat to inflict serious injury, assault with a weapon, resist police and contravening a family violence intervention order. Farquhar has been in custody in Port Phillip Prison in Laverton for several months. Yesterday extra security staff were bought from Melbourne to patrol Ballarat's Magistrates Court in anticipation of the hearing. Defence lawyer Alexandra Squarci told the court her client was not present in court due to an incident at the prison just before leaving. In July a magistrate refused to jail Farquhar's wife Corrina Burns for stabbing him in December last year. At the time magistrate Andrew Capell said in context of the harassment, threats and intimidation she endured, Burns was provoked to the extreme. Farquhar has a lengthy criminal history including prior convictions for unlawful assault, assault with a weapon and possessing an unregistered firearm. G4S _ the company that runs Port Phillip Prison and organised yesterday's transport _ director of public affairs, Tim Hall commented on the decision not to transport Farquhar. ''For security and duty of care reasons, the decision was made not to transport a prisoner to Ballarat court from Port Phillip Prison yesterday morning,'' Mr Hall said. ''G4S cannot comment on individual prisoners, but at no time was security compromised." The case was adjourned until August 13.

August 28, 2009 Herald Sun
A VIOLENT drunken bully who killed his girlfriend's three-year-old son is suing for damages because he caught hepatitis C in jail. Killer Mark Mietto, who escaped with just four years in prison over the 2001 killing of little Jonathan Guiver, has demanded compensation for his "pain and suffering". His plight has attracted little sympathy from the shattered dad of his young victim. A drunken Mietto smashed Jonathan's skull at the boy's mum's Vermont home in June 2001. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, saying he had dropped the young boy on his head accidentally, a claim rejected by the court. Jonathan had complained Mietto had harmed him previously and an autopsy found bruises on his body consistent with previous child abuse. Now Mietto claims he is suffering and deserves to be paid damages. In a writ lodged in the Victorian County Court on Monday, the 34-year-old alleged he had contracted hepatitis C from fellow inmates at Port Phillip Prison. His suffered liver dysfunction, fatigue, abdominal pain, night sweats and pain and suffering, the writ said. The former labourer and painter was also permanently "incapacitated for employments to which he is suited", the writ alleges. Mietto has accused the private prison's operator, G4S Custodial Services, of failing to protect him from the deadly disease. The prison operator should have warned him about the dangers of sharing electric razors and other personal items with other inmates, and should have isolated prisoners with the disease, the writ claims. It is believed Mietto has claimed to the prison he was infected with hepatitis C while using a communal electric razor in the prison's high-security Charlotte Unit, which is designed to manage difficult prisoners.

July 9, 2009 The Age
PRIVATE prison operator G4S is under attack over a prisoner's death — for the third time in nine years — after a coroner found it could have prevented the fatal asthma attack of a prisoner who died after using a faulty emergency intercom. Ian Westcott, 50, was found dead in his Port Phillip Prison cell on the morning of November 26, 2005, about eight hours after he died. On a desk in his cell, police found a note in his handwriting: "Asthma attack. Buzzed for help. No response." In a damning finding, coroner Audrey Jamieson said prison operator GSL — now trading as G4S — failed to take proper measures to ensure the functionality of its "archaic" emergency intercom system. "Mr Westcott's death was not … without sufficient warning as to render his death unpreventable," she said. "I find a direct correlation between the failure of the intercom system and Mr Westcott's death. The technology must be capable of meeting the security needs of the isolated at all times." G4S Australia, a subsidiary of a British-owned multinational security and prisons company, last year was criticised by the WA coroner over the "inhumane" death of Aboriginal prisoner who suffered heatstroke in an unair-conditioned van on a 360-kilometre trip. The company was also found to have contributed to the hanging deaths of three inmates and the drug overdose of another at Port Phillip Prison in 1997-98. In 2004, it was fined $500,000 after refusing immigration detainees food, water and toilet access on a seven-hour trip. Ms Jamieson recommended a statewide review of prison intercom and security systems and independent and Department of Justice audits. Investigators had concluded a single faulty pin on a six-pin telephone plug housed in the jail's central services cupboard was probably to blame for the faulty intercom.

July 9, 2009 Herald Sun
A CORONER has found a prisoner who died of an asthma attack could have survived if an intercom had been working. Ian Thomas Campbell Westcott, 55, was found dead in his Port Phillip Prison cell on November 26, 2005. Prison officers found a note in his cell reading "asthma attack. buzzed for help. no response". Coroner Audrey Jamieson described the intercom as "archaic" and said Mr Westcott's death was totally preventable. "I find that the failure of the intercom system denied Mr Westcott the opportunity to receive medical attention,'' Ms Jamieson said. Ms Jamison said private prison operator GSL, now called G4S, failed to properly maintain the intercom system and recommended a State Government-commissioned overhaul of all communication systems in Victorian prisons. Ms Jamieson's also criticised St Vincent's Correctional Health Services for its medical management of prisoners. She said Mr Westcott's asthma had never been assessed by medical staff and he had never received information on how to manage the condition. A prison doctor told the coroner asthma attacks could cause sudden death, but Ms Jamieson said Mr Westcott had the self-control to write the note before his death which indicated he could have been saved. "I thus find that Mr Westcott's death was not "sudden'' or without warning, or sufficient warning so as to render his death unpreventable,'' she said. It is estimated Mr Westcott, who was on remand for dishonesty charges, died eight hours before being discovered by prison staff. Outside the Coroner's Court, Mr Westcott's daughter Vanessa and wife Lorraine said they were considering further legal action against prison authorities. An emotional Vanessa Westcott said she was devastated by her father's unnecessary death. "I just want to say that this was so preventable, you know, he could be here with me right now,'' she said. "They should be held accountable and I'm going to make sure they are.'' G4S public affairs spokesman Tim Hall said the company had made immediate changes to their intercom system after Mr Westcott's death.

September 11, 2008 The Age
COMPLAINTS about Victoria's private prisons have risen up to fourfold in the past two years, fuelling concerns by a public sector watchdog about the state's growing reliance on business to provide government services. State Ombudsman George Brouwer yesterday tabled his 2007-08 annual report, vowing to shine a light on the more murky aspects of public-private partnerships and outsourcing and noting the "high risk" that comes with the blurring of the private and public sectors. In the report, Mr Brouwer highlights a "growing interdependency" between government and business, which brings "a high potential for conflict situations and confusion about the ethical standards required". While issues of conflicts of interest, poor customer service and failure to fulfil legal requirements remain his core work, the Ombudsman says public-private contracts and public sector compliance with the new human rights charter are two new areas of focus. The 2008 report also shows: ■Overall complaints were up 13% to 16,344 on the previous year. ■Complaints about freedom of information rose by 16%. ■Whistleblower disclosures more than doubled. ■The largest single source (29%) of complaints related to the Justice Department. ■Local government made up 23% of complaints and the Department of Human Services 19%. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor said his office was concerned that private sector involvement in services traditionally supplied by government may lead to the erosion of citizens' rights. He pointed to private prisons, noting 400% and 100% increases in complaints respectively about Port Phillip prison (rising to 443) and Fulham prison (129) since the 2006 annual report. While rising complaint figures are partly explained by the installation of phones for inmates, Mr Taylor described the increases as "disproportionately high". The emphasis on private contracting is a wake-up call for a state increasingly reliant on PPPs for services ranging from jails to water and now schools. Mr Taylor said the Ombudsman's office would make a point of scrutinising deals with business. "Every time there is a major contract or outsourcing of what traditionally has been a government function we have an interest; we want to make sure that the normal rights of a citizen to complain are retained and that the Government doesn't legislate away the right of an individual to complain to the Ombudsman." Individual agencies with the most complaints were VicRoads and Port Phillip Prison. ■The Government is expected to table legislation tomorrow to toughen rules and guidelines for councillors, including clarifying confusing laws on conflicts of interest.

June 8, 2008 The Age
A PRISONER subjected to an obscene practical joke by prison officers has won damages in a case known in prison circles as "Sausagegate". The private operator of Port Phillip Prison has agreed to pay Kirk Steven Ardern a large sum for physical and psychological injuries suffered in May 2005. The Sunday Age understands the payout is less than $100,000, but private prison operator GSL has already been fined almost $200,000 by Corrections Victoria. Ardern had been made to believe he was leaving the prison to buy doughnuts, but was then coerced into inserting what he was told was a package of contraband drugs and cash into his rectum. But he had been tricked, and was angered and humiliated after the package — a meat sausage — was revealed during a strip-search and subsequent mock interrogation. The sausage was described as being "15 to 20 centimetres long". Three prison officers suspended on full pay for six to nine months over the incident were sacked, and two others were counselled. Ardern was released on parole soon after the incident but is now at Fulham Prison, near Sale, after being jailed in October 2006 for bashing an elderly couple in their Hughesdale home. GSL Australia director of public affairs Tim Hall said the behaviour of the staff involved was inexcusable. GSL is facing a scandal in Western Australia over the death in February of a 46-year-old man who died after a four-hour trip in a sealed compartment of a police van when the outside temperature was 43 degrees. And in March, a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report found GSL had breached the human rights of five detainees it was taking from Melbourne's Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre to South Australia's Baxter facility in September 2004.

November 24, 2007 The Age
THE State Government has made it more difficult for independent observers to monitor what goes on in jails, lawyers claim. "It's getting harder to get information about the way the prison system operates," said Hugh de Kretser, executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres. "The Government, instead of increasing scrutiny, is going the other way," he said. This week, Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre was told it could not set up a legal clinic at Port Phillip Prison to give advice on issues such as prisoners' treatment in jail, according to the centre's principal lawyer, Philip Cottier. In the past three months, the Government had moved to restrict prisoners' rights to make freedom of information requests and given jail governors overly wide discretion to restrict prisoners' mail, Mr de Kretser said. The laws about mail were badly drafted and could potentially capture even innocent mail exchanges, he said. Corrections Victoria had recently made secret key operational procedures about how guards should deal with force and firearms, Mr de Kretser said. These procedures were previously open to public scrutiny. "If we cannot access the rules Victoria's prisons operate under, how can we hold our prisons accountable to complying with them?" he said. The criticisms follow the release of a report this week by the State Ombudsman, George Brouwer, into a violent incident at the Melbourne Custody Centre earlier this year. Mr Brouwer found that guards used excessive force against a prisoner and called for a review of the centre, which is run by a private company, the GEO Group, under the supervision of Victoria Police. Deputy Ombudsman John Taylor told The Age that the custody centre was "a closed shop" with limited public scrutiny: "It's a place that no one can go. It's a de facto jail, but it's a police jail, and it's very hard to go there unless you are a lawyer or are from the Ombudsman's office." Mr de Kretser said Government monitoring of assaults by prison officers in privately run prisons was weak. "The private prison contractor and the Government have a common interest in burying the issues," he said.

August 5, 2007 The Age
A PRISONER who was allegedly hurt and humiliated by an obscene practical joke, known in prison circles as "Sausagegate", is suing the private operator of Port Phillip Prison at Laverton. Kirk Steven Ardern, 27, has lodged a writ in the County Court seeking damages for physical and psychological injuries suffered during the incident on May 22, 2005. The Sunday Age reported exclusively in March last year that private operator GSL Australia had been fined almost $200,000 by Corrections Victoria over the matter and other breaches. Following the Sunday Age report, based on a leaked copy of an internal investigation, four prison officers who were suspended on full pay for six to nine months over the incident were sacked, and two others were counselled. The investigator's report said Ardern was made to believe he was going out of the prison to buy doughnuts, then coerced into secreting what he was told was a package of contraband drugs and cash wrapped in cling-wrap inside his rectum. But he had been tricked, and was angered and humiliated after the package, a meat sausage, was revealed during a strip-search and a subsequent mock interrogation. In the writ, filed by solicitors Arnold Thomas and Becker, the statement of claim says a plan was hatched and carried out against Ardern by several prison officers, along with several prisoners and a catering employee. It names the prison officers as Stephen Harmat, Russell Davies and Appurdural Natkunarajah. A fourth officer was unnamed. The catering employee is cited as someone named Scott, and the prisoners as Dave Eddington, "Chris" and "Curly". The writ says the plan involved persuading Ardern he would be allowed out of the prison if he hid a package in his rectum and went to Werribee Plaza to give the package to an unidentified person, then returned to the prison. The plan then involved strip-searching Ardern before he left prison, "discovering" the package and treating him as though he had been caught committing a serious offence. The writ describes the package as being "15 to 20 centimetres long and tubular in shape and compact and solid". It says Ardern inserted the package "not of his own free will but acting under intimidation from Chris, who in the presence of Eddington and Curly" had told Ardern not to anger the warders and the caterer. "This occurred after Eddington had told the plaintiff to 'bank' the package which had been left for him in the prison toilets. In prison parlance, 'bank' meant to insert the package up his rectum. "The strip-search was carried out by Davies and the unnamed prison officer. During the strip search the package was discovered and removed. "Natkunarajah then proceeded to interrogate the plaintiff and treat him as though he had committed a serious offence." The writ argues that Ardern was a victim of what amounted to assault and battery, and suffered damage to the anus and rectum, with bleeding and pain. His psychological injuries, it said, involved post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. The writ said Ardern was especially vulnerable as a prisoner and, because of his psychological state, personality and circumstances, had been humiliated and embarrassed through a severe abuse of powers. Ardern has spent most of the time since the incident in Fulham prison, near Sale, where he is serving a sentence for assault. GSL was warned at the time that the case could affect the renewal of its contract with Australian Correctional Facility Pty Ltd, which sub-contracts to GSL. The contract for Port Phillip Prison is a 20-year agreement with reviews every three to five years. In the most recent review, completed in June, the Government required GSL to improve its performance and standards. The result has been a clean-out at the top of GSL, which now has a new director, new management team and a new compliance regime that includes daily checks and regular auditing.

November 28, 2006 The Age
THE daughter of a prisoner who died of an asthma attack in his Port Phillip Prison cell after an emergency buzzer allegedly failed has demanded answers over her father's death. "I want someone to be held accountable," a tearful Vanessa Westcott said outside Melbourne Coroners Court yesterday. An inquest on Ian Thomas Westcott heard yesterday that the 55-year-old man left a note in his cell saying his cries for help went unheeded. "He wrote that he had asthma on the note and that he had attempted to call for assistance," Port Phillip Prison doctor Eugenie Tuck told the court. Barrister Ian Freckelton, for Mr Westcott's family, said the intercom unit that allegedly failed Mr Westcott was insufficiently tested and checked. Dr Freckelton said that while a poor connection was the likely cause of the intercom problem in Mr Westcott's cell, he had been advised of intercom deficiencies in other Victorian prisons. "This is an issue that has wider significance in this state," he said. Mr Westcott, who was charged with dishonesty offences and remanded in July 2005, was found dead in his cell on November 28 last year. The court heard that a medical history taken from Mr Westcott when he was remanded at Melbourne Assessment Prison had no mention of his asthma and arrived at Port Phillip Prison the week after his death — four months after it was taken. The inquest continues today.

November 28, 2006 The Australian
AN inquest into the asthma-related death of a prisoner at Port Phillip private prison in Melbourne will begin today at the Victorian Coroner's Court. Remand prisoner Ian Westcott, 55, was found dead in his cell on November 26 last year, after he had apparently suffered an asthma attack. A handwritten note was found in Mr Westcott's cell which said: "Asthma attack buzzed for help no response." The inquest will investigate alleged failures of the prison's emergency intercom system and the medical care provided to Mr Westcott. His daughter, Vanessa, has said she hoped the inquest would provide some answers "for why my father died in such horrific and humiliating circumstances". "I have so many unanswered questions as to why my father was denied help when he was dying in his cell, and why we as his family had to hear of his death from the media and not from those responsible for his care." "My dad's last plea for help will not go unheard again." The 300-bed Port Phillip prison is in Laverton in Melbourne's south-west and is managed by Global Solutions Limited.

March 25, 2006 The Age
THE private company that operates Port Phillip Prison has defended its security measures after an inmate was murdered on Thursday. Tim Hall, national spokesman for GSL (Australia) said while the stabbing of Darren Parkes was a tragedy, Port Phillip had a good safety record and little could have been done to prevent the murder. "Security can always be improved but there are some violent people in prison," Mr Hall told The Age. "Regrettably, sometimes in the best-managed prisons, violent incidents occur." He said Parkes was the first inmate to be killed at the maximum security prison since 1997 when GSL (then Group 4 Falck) began operating the prison after being awarded a tender by the Kennett government. Parkes, 29, was on remand at Port Phillip and awaiting trial over the robbery and attempted murder of South Melbourne Market fruiterer Bendetto Riccardi. Mr Riccardi was shot in a car park in May last year and is now a paraplegic. A prison source told The Age yesterday that Parkes, who was not a protected prisoner, was in his cell at the Laverton prison's Scarborough North unit when he was stabbed in the chest about 4.30pm on Thursday. The Age believes the attacker used an implement taken from a meal tray and which had been fashioned into a weapon. Victoria Police will apply to the Magistrates Court next week to interview a suspect over the stabbing. The comments by GSL's Mr Hall attracted an angry response from Charandev Singh, an advocate for prisoners from Brimbank Community Legal Centre. "If they are unconcerned on a commercial level about a prisoner being stabbed to death, then that's an indication of their lack of priority (for) this man's life," Mr Singh said yesterday. He said Parkes was the third Victorian prisoner to be murdered since 1998 and that private prison operators and the State Government were jointly responsible.

March 19, 2006 The Age
FOUR prison officers have been sacked and two more counselled in the wake of the so-called "Sausagegate" scandal, which hurt and humiliated a vulnerable inmate of the privately owned and run Port Phillip Prison. The Bracks Government has put GSL Australia, operator of the Laverton maximum-security complex, on notice over a spate of alarming incidents. The prisoner was tricked into believing he was leaving the jail, coerced into inserting a sausage in his body, then strip-searched by officers "in" on the "joke". The dismissed officers were corrections supervisor Trevor Spearman, who allegedly tried to cover up the incident, and corrections officer Steven Harmat, who allegedly played the leading role, and corrections officers Russell Davies and Appudurai Natkunarajah, who joined the prank. Until last week, they had been suspended for six to nine months on full pay following the report of the investigation by GSL's security manager, Jim Keegan, revealed exclusively in The Sunday Age last week. Anti-private prison activist Charandev Singh said the report shows that more needs to be done to address serious systemic problems in the prison. His concern is backed by Vanessa Westcott, daughter of a man who died of an asthma attack at the prison in November after a help button he pressed apparently did not work. Ms Westcott said the prison was leaving people like her father, remanded alleged offender Ian Westcott, 55, in cells not monitored between 8pm and 8am. His death, after he reportedly left a note saying he had called for help, is the subject of three inquiries. Ms Westcott, a University of Melbourne doctoral student researching in outback Western Australia, wants to prevent such tragedies occurring. Her solicitor, Fitzroy Legal Service's Stan Winford, said not enough had been done to implement the findings of inquests conducted into deaths at the prison in the late 1990s. GSL was recently given a penalty of almost $200,000 over "Sausagegate", which happened last May. The penalty appears to have included other incidents. In another embarrassment this week, the company's transport manager, Rod St George, was dressed down by Judge John Nixon in Geelong County Court over a bungle that left a prisoner late for court and without food or water for almost seven hours. The problems come at an awkward time for GSL and the Bracks Government, which is in the midst of a scheduled review of GSL's contract. Minister for Corrections, Tim Holding told The Sunday Age: "The Government will not accept failure in the management of any of our prisons." Under the terms of its 20-year contract, begun in 1997, GSL was to face a review after five years, then every three years. If renewed, the second of its three-year terms would begin on July 1. Mr Singh, a human rights advocate with Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre, said the penalty faced by GSL was "tokenistic" compared to its annual revenue of $147 million. Police have investigated "Sausagegate" and have forwarded their investigation to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

March 16, 2006 Geelong Informant
PORT Phillip Prison operator Global Solutions Limited (GSL) was yesterday called to account over its bungling of a prisoner's delivery to Geelong County Court on Tuesday. The mishap resulted in a prisoner being forced to go without food or drink for seven-and-a-half hours. Judge John Nixon requested the attendance of GSL's Transport Operations Manager at court after the prisoner, due to stand trial in Geelong County Court at 10.30am, was not delivered at court until 2.30pm. When he arrived, concerned court staff discovered the man had been locked in a holding cell at Port Phillip Prison since 7am and had not been given anything to eat or drink since breakfast. It was also discovered that after collecting the prisoner from Port Phillip at noon, the prison vehicle travelled to Geelong via Melbourne Assessment Prison and other places. Judge John Nixon described the situation as absolutely outrageous. At 10am yesterday GSL Transport Operations manager Roderick St George appeared in Geelong County Court where he was questioned under oath by Crown Prosecutor Andrew Moore about the incident. Mr St George said a jail order had been faxed to the prison at 3.31pm on March 13 but because Monday was a public holiday, the jail order sat in the tray until it was read at 7.15am Tuesday morning. He said no one knew the prisoner was to come to Geelong until the fax was read, despite the prisoner already having been taken to the holding cell at 7am to await transport. Mr St George said any jail order received after 4pm would be regarded as ad hoc, yet he had already told the court the jail order had been faxed to the prison half an hour earlier. He said there was no indication the job was of high priority and said he was unaware the prisoner was required for trial, even though a letter was attached to the jail order, to the contrary. Mr St George said he had collected the letter before attending court yesterday and had not been made privy to its contents earlier. When asked why the man had not been given food or drink for seven and a half hours, Mr St George said it was the prison's responsibility to feed and water prisoners. Judge Nixon told Mr St George that what had taken place was an inxecusable blunder on GSL's part and Mr St George agreed.

March 12 2006 The Age
THE private company running Port Phillip Prison, GSL Australia, has been fined almost $200,000 and four officers have been suspended over a practical joke that humiliated and hurt a vulnerable prisoner last year. Known in prison circles as "Sausagegate", the incident involved the prisoner being coerced into hiding a package of supposed contraband inside his body and then being strip-searched by officers who were in on the "joke". A scathing internal GSL report on the case, obtained by The Sunday Age, reveals that the prisoner rejected efforts to make him cover up the incident, which left him angry, humiliated and physically hurt. The scandal is likely to revive debate over the use of private companies to run prisons and immigration detention centres. Last year GSL was fined almost $500,000 by federal authorities over mistreatment of immigration detainees, and an independent review has decided against an automatic extension of its contract to run immigration detention centres. Police who investigated the latest case have now referred files to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Victorian Corrections Commissioner Kelvin Anderson said the matter had "been taken extremely seriously", resulting in what he termed a "significant financial penalty" under its contract. The Sunday Age believes that the sum is close to $200,000.

December 1, 2005 The Age
A JAIL inmate who died from an asthma attack at the weekend left a note telling authorities he had tried to get help but his calls went unanswered due to a faulty intercom system. Corrections Commissioner Kelvin Anderson said yesterday the body of the 55-year-old remand prisoner, a known asthmatic, was found by Port Phillip Prison staff after lockdown between 8pm Friday and 8am Saturday along with a note that stated he had unsuccessfully tried to raise the alarm using the intercom button but there had been "no response". The unit where the deceased man was staying, Scarborough South, was not staffed around the clock, he said, but patrolling checks by the 11 prison officers on duty to monitor the 750 prisoners had been conducted. Opposition corrections spokesman Richard Dalla-Riva said the death was unacceptable. "To have a prisoner to die in such circumstances, where he has had to write a note saying that the alarm doesn't work as he is dying, I think is a just a tragic set of circumstances. "It paints a very poor picture on the hapless Corrections Minister," Mr Dalla-Riva said. There have been two other serious incidents in the jail system over the past week. A man stabbed at Barwon Prison on Tuesday is in a stable condition and, in a separate incident, Noel Faure (one of three men accused of murdering underworld crime patriarch Lewis Moran) is also in a stable condition following a self-mutilation attempt.

June 7, 2005 Herald Sun
THE Corrections Commissioner is awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the alleged abuse of a prisoner at Port Phillip Prison before deciding whether to penalise the prison's private operator. Two prison guards have been stood down and could face criminal charges over the incident sources describe as a practical joke gone wrong. The incident is believed to revolve around a prisoner who was coerced into internally concealing a sausage to smuggle it out of the prison on a day leave trip, before being strip searched by guards allegedly in on the joke. Two more guards could be stood down over the alleged incident. It is believed two prisoners may also be charged with a criminal offence, possibly rape. The alleged abuse victim is understood to have later learned the event was a joke on him and reported it to authorities.

December 7, 2004 The Age
Port Phillip Prison's new youth unit was a whitewash that failed to deliver promised training and counselling programs, one of its former "peer educators" said yesterday. Martin Camm, 48, said he quit his mentoring role to younger prisoners because there were too few peer educators and too many men who needed help. Mr Camm told a coroner's inquiry into the death in custody of Anthony Douglas Kennedy that peer educators were encouraged to rate as "low" the risk of their youthful charges doing harm to themselves in written assessments, or there would be more forms to fill out and the prisoners would be isolated in their cells. Mr Kennedy, 20, was found hanging from a shower fitting in Beechworth Prison on November 21, 2002, two days after he was moved from Port Phillip Prison. An attempt a week earlier to move Mr Kennedy to Beechworth was abandoned when he threatened to kill himself if he was moved. Mr Camm said only a few of the promised programs were available to prisoners and he was unable to refer Mr Kennedy, who was distressed at the loss of both his parents, to a grief and loss program. "I could not do it," he said. "There was only three or four of us as peer educators doing 75 men. It was just a whitewash. What it was portrayed to be in the media was not what it was."

October 22, 2003
The State Government yesterday warned the private operator of Port Phillip Prison that its contract could be terminated if it did not immediately fix several security issues.  Corrections Minister Andre Haermeyer served Group 4 Securitas with a default notice, saying it had failed to deal with 24 out of the 39 security obligations identified in a review earlier this year.  Group 4 has been given two weeks to present a "cure plan" to Corrections Victoria to demonstrate how it would fix security and honour its contractual obligations.  If it fails to come up with a satisfactory plan, it could lose its contract or face financial penalties. The Government could also sue for compensation.  Ten per cent of Group 4's performance-linked fee had been held back in relation to a health service requirement in the past year.  "The operator is basically on notice," Mr Haermeyer said. "This is not something we are going to give them a great deal of time to remedy."  In 2000, the Government took control of the women's prison at Deer Park after the private operator was deemed to have failed its contractual responsibilities after repeated security and drug breaches.  The Group 4 default notice comes after a search of the maximum security prison, at Laverton, on May 7 revealed a small handgun loaded with five bullets, a mobile phone and a large stash of drugs. Another search the next day uncovered more mobile phones and a digital camera.  Corrections Commissioner Kelvin Anderson said yesterday he could not rule out guards at the prison being responsible for contraband in the jail.  There was another security breach in August when a prisoner could not be found for more than seven hours.  The decision to issue a default notice was made after Group 4 was found to have rectified only 15 out of 39 issues identified in a review after the May security breaches.  Group 4 said in a statement yesterday that it acknowledged the seriousness of the incidents. Security had been enhanced and would be tightened further.  Group 4 said it had improved human security at the prison and was looking at ways to boost electronic security to help detect contraband.  The company was awarded a 20-year contract to build, own and operate the prison by the Kennett government in 1997. It was issued with a default notice in 1998 after a riot.  In its first year of operation, nine inmates died. The State Coroner found that Group 4 and the Victorian Government had contributed to the suicide deaths of four men because Group 4 failed to provide a safe physical environment.  Neither Group 4 nor the Government would disclose the value of the prison contract.  (The Age)

September 11, 2003
Two Victorian prison officers have been arrested in relation to a drug trafficking matter.  Prison squad detectives arrested a man and woman about 6.30am at a home in Melbourne's western suburbs.  Police will be making an application to remand the male officer at Melbourne Magistrates Court later today.  The female officer is expected to be bailed and appear before court at a later date.  The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by the prison squad with the assistance of Corrections Victoria and Port Phillip Prison management.  (The Age)

August 20, 2002
RMIT University yesterday backed out of its bid to team with a private prison operator to run Australia's refugee detention centres after a heated university forum on the issue.  The university had proposed to provide education and recreational activities to asylum seekers in detention centres run by Group 4 Falck, which runs Victoria's Port Phillip Prison.  The plan has faced mounting opposition from staff, including several academics on the university's 20-member council, and students since it was revealed last month.  RMIT Student Union Council president Emily Anderson applauded the decision as a victory for staff and students who had campaigned against the bid.  Ms.Anderson said most of the 250 people at the forum were against RMIT's involvement believing it legitimised mandatory detention.  "That was quite clear from the reaction speakers got," she said.  (The Age)

August 10, 2004
A MOBILE phone has been found in a cell at the maximum security Port Phillip Prison.  The phone was found in the cell of Mark Wilcox, an inmate of the jail's Scarborough South section of the privately run Laverton prison.  It is the ninth mobile to be found at Port Phillip in the past three years and has again sparked concern at how contraband could be getting in.  A prison officer using a phone detecting device on night duty found the Nokia mobile and a charger about two weeks ago.  In October last year, the operator of Port Phillip Prison, Group 4, was warned after a string of security breaches.   Last year, career criminal Hugo Rich was found with three phones and a digital camera in his cell.   Weeks earlier, another mobile had been found with a loaded revolver and syringes in the cell of kidnapper Kevin Farrugia.  (Herald Sun)

May 15, 2001
Victorian prison managers have rejected claims that inmates are being subjected to illegal daily body searches.  The claims were made by prisoners at the privately run Port Philip and Fulham jails.  John Myers, the general manager of Australasian Correctional Management, which also runs the Fulham prison at Sale, says the allegation about cavity searches is wrong.  "Searching is an important aspect of any prison operation."  (ABC News)

Prisoner Transport
, Australia
Jan 18, 2014 abc.net.au

The Premier Colin Barnett has ruled out ending the prison transport contract with Serco despite several recent prisoner escapes. 27-year-old Bradley John McIntosh-Narrier escaped from two prison guards at Joondalup Hospital on Friday afternoon. He is the third prisoner to escape from Serco guards in the past two weeks. Mr Barnett says Serco's performance is being scrutinised. "Obviously we're going to look very carefully at the performance of Serco, but as the minister has said you also get escapees where you have government run prisons, but the situation that happened a few weeks ago was clearly unacceptable," he said. The search for McIntosh-Narrier is continuing. He is believed to have stolen a car from the hospital car park, a black 2002 Toyota Rav 4 with the registration 1BFW 590. Police say he is considered unpredictable and should not be approached. Sightings should be reported to police.

Serco says McIntosh-Narrier vandalised property and threatened staff at the hospital, prompting the guards to shut him in a bathroom, where he made his escape. It says an initial assessment shows staff followed procedures in escorting and restraining the prisoner and that an investigation will begin immediately with the Department of Corrective Services. It also says it is having discussions with the department over the possible introduction of new prisoner restraint device, not currently in use in WA. The Department of Corrective Services has confirmed it will review the incident but has declined to comment further. A woman visiting the hospital said it appeared McIntosh-Narrier escaped through the ceiling of a bathroom in the emergency department. "With the mess that I saw in the toilet, someone very violent has been in there and totally demolished it," she said. "There's a big hole right above the toilet where you can stand and reach the roof."


Jan 9, 2014 The West Australian

The boss of WA prisons has admitted weaknesses in the security of prison vans were partly to blame for the escape of a dangerous rapist last week. Cameron John Graham was just weeks into an 11-year sentence for rape when he was permitted to move closer to his family in the north of the State for Christmas. Private prison contractor Serco, which runs WA's prison transport services, was transferring Graham back to Perth last Friday when he and another prisoner, alleged armed robber Kelden Edward Fraser, broke out of a prison van at Geraldton airport. The fugitives stole a car and went on the run for 36 hours, sparking a massive manhunt and a furious public reaction. New Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon said yesterday the reasons for the escape were "procedural and mechanical". Mr McMahon refused to give details, citing security reasons, but said security had been increased since. "I have put directives in place that fix those issues . . . and that is important because I need to know I can transport prisoners securely," Mr McMahon said. _The West Australian _has copies of new directives issued to corrective services staff, which may shed some light on the circumstances of the escape. Assistant Commissioner of Custodial Operations Jon Peach issued a directive on prisoner movements on Monday. "With immediate effect, all prisons are to ensure that, unless in a secure location or for the purposes of providing food, water or emergency assistance, any escort vehicle with prisoners on board shall have all doors closed and locked at all times . . . until such time as the prisoner occupant(s) of the vehicle is physically transferred out of the vehicle," the directive said. Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said he would be addressing the issue of the recapture costs in a meeting with Serco next week.

 

Jan 5, 2014 PERTHNOW

A NOTORIOUS rapist allowed privileges at Christmas and another fugitive were captured overnight as Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis was last night trying to contact the rape victim to apologise for the debacle. The shambolic escape also resulted in Corrective Services chief James McMahon yesterday cancelling all non-essential prison transfers. Cameron John Graham, 22, sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a mother, escaped from custody after being flown from his Perth prison cell to Geraldton to be close to his family for Christmas. Graham and another prisoner, Kelden Edward Fraser, 23, were captured after police used a plane to find their bush camp in the Mullewa area, near Geraldton. Officers were deployed to the camp where they arrested Graham and Fraser just after 1am this morning. The men were taken to Geraldton Police Station and have been returned to Greenough Regional Prison. Police say charges will be laid in "due course" and the pair will appear in Geraldton Magistrates Court later this week. Mr Francis told The Sunday Times that he was "gobsmacked" to learn notorious rapist Cameron John Graham had been flown from Perth to Greenough Regional Prison at taxpayers' expense to be closer to his family for Christmas. In a press conference today, Mr Francis said he understood the van door was unlocked and the prisoners were not handcuffed. He also said he had not yet received a formal briefing on the incident, but that he was certain that would happen this week. The brutal rapist was only a month into his 11-year jail sentence for a crime a judge found "difficult for a reasonable human being to comprehend." Mr Francis said he felt for Graham's victim, who has subsequently left the country following the ordeal. When Graham broke into the woman's home on January 15 last year he threatened to murder her children. He then forced her to undress before repeatedly raping his terrified victim in her walk-in robe. Afterwards he ordered her to drive to a nearby cash machine and withdraw $400. "I am endeavouring to contact her and keep her informed and say I'm sorry for what happened," he said. "I was gobsmacked when I found out he (Graham) had been flown to Greenough.'' "It wasn't until this happened that I even knew the department moves prisoners around the state to make things easier for their families to visit. "The move for him to go to Geraldton wasn't sanctioned by me as minister or the Commissioner (prisons' boss James McMahon). Clearly the people who made the assessments on this got it wrong. I am led to believe it was some senior prison officers who made the decision. I am trying to find out (who)." Mr Francis denied he had been missing in action yesterday as the fallout from the scandal continued. The Sunday Times understands he was moving house. Earlier, acting-Premier Kim Hames appeared curious earlier in the day about his colleague's whereabouts when he was left to face questions from the media. Dr Hames said: "I don't know where he is. He is not my responsibility." "I don't know the circumstances behind Joe not being able to talk today. The Minister has a full understanding of the implications of his responsibilities as a Minister. It's up to him to make those decisions and up to the Premier to make judgments on whether those decisions are accurate or not." The escape has increased heat on Serco, the private company responsible for prisoner transfer. In a thinly-veiled threat to the contractor, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis told The Sunday Times last night: "Of course I am disappointed in Serco. They are skating on thin ice.'' He also said today that if the company were good 'corporate citizens', they would foot the bill of the manhunt. In the wake of the security failure, Commissioner McMahon also ordered a review of the prisoner transfer process, as the State Opposition called for a parliamentary inquiry into the debacle.' Mr McMahon said that as a result of the incident only prison transfers approved by him would go ahead. "At the department we take this very seriously. Our ultimate job is to provide safety to the community," he said. "We failed. The ultimate responsibility for that is me. Let me very clear about that." He added: "I think it is an outrage. I am going to get to the bottom of it." Mr McMahon also put Serco on notice. Serco was transporting the escapees. "There have been a number of incidents that have come across my desk that have involved Serco," he said. "Do I have concerns? Absolutely I do. And I am reviewing that in its entirety. "I will be making my point very strongly and clearly to Serco that the minimum requirement I require of any organisation that are trans-porting people from a custodial perspective is that it needs to be done securely." Opposition spokesman for corrective services Paul Papalia said yesterday Labor would move a motion calling for the inquiry when parliament resumes next month. Mr Papalia said it was "inconceivable" that one month after starting his jail term Graham would be transferred from maximum security at a Perth prison - believed to be Hakea - to medium-security Greenough Regional Prison to be closer to his family for Christmas. Mr Papalia said that Graham did not deserve the festive season perk and the "risks were too high''. Mr Papalia said: " Corrective Services minister Joe Francis needs to provide the community a full explanation as to why this perk was allowed. "When parliament resumes we will attempt to have this investigated and (we) want the government's support. "In this case, it would appear the prisoner was transferred to Greenough so that his family could go and see him in prison - just one month after he was sentenced. "This is a guy (Mr Francis) who chases publicity for self promotion and spin but is shy when there is an issue. I will be writing to the Minister and asking him for the specific process that occurs for transfers of Mr McMahon said a detailed investigation was also being conducted by Serco. Mr Papalia said Serco should also be part of the inquiry. "Serco has had a series of failures in the past few months,'' Mr Papalia said. Graham was being transferred back to Perth on Friday when he kicked the door out of a prison van at Geraldton airport and stole a rental car at 1pm. Fraser, 23, on remand at Greenough for alleged armed robbery, also escaped with him. The car allegedly stolen by the pair was found bogged 39km north of Mullewa. Police officers had resumed the search at first light yesterday after reports the escapees were seen refuelling at a BP service station in Cue, 651km northeast of Perth, about 8.30pm on Friday. They were seen by police travelling along Great Northern Highway but disappeared 15km north of Mount Magnet. About 2.30am, police spotted the car on the Geraldton-Mount Magnet Rd heading east. A car chase ensued but officers lost them. Police last night used helicopters and night-vision equipment to locate the men. Serco declined to comment.


Jun 1, 2013 brisbanetimes.com.au

A whistleblower employee of a security company with a $1.8 billion Australian government contract says its managers routinely underplay risks of guarding asylum seekers and prisoners to cut costs, putting the public at risk. The man who holds a senior position in Serco Asia Pacific, which provides security for immigration detention centres, has leaked in-confidence documents to Fairfax Media detailing how the company misjudged recent operations that led to escapes. “The operational plans are always incomplete and usually just a cut-and-paste job,” said the whistleblower working in the company. “This is what they have been directed to do to save time ... the director calls it generic cost-effective planning.” Documents show that German-born criminal Carlo Konstantin Kohl, who escaped from Bangkok airport two weeks ago, had a history of violence, had been addicted to drugs and was rated as “dangerous” under Aviation Transport Security Regulations. But documents show that two Serco guards, a man and woman, who were assigned to travel with him on commercial flights from Australia to Germany, were given documents telling them he was unlikely to attempt to escape or to “commit an unlawful interference with aviation”. A Thai police investigation found the guards were asleep when Kohl wandered around the airport before escaping through a fire exit door on May 16. He is still on the run in Thailand with a reward for his capture. Documents show that only three Serco staff were assigned to escort 18 Vietnamese detainees from an immigration detention centre in Darwin to church on 28 April, including Van Binh Tran who had been assessed as “medium risk”. Tran and another prisoner, Van Hung Ngyuen, escaped while the guards smoked and talked outside the church during mass, said the whistleblower who asked for anonymity. Despite that escape, only six Serco staff were assigned to guard 28 Vietnamese detainees during an outing from the Darwin immigration centre to a clinic for X-rays when six of them escaped on May 21. “The planning and risk assessments were not done,” the whistleblower said. The whistleblower, who works in the company's transport and escort branch, also claimed that an inadequate security assessment was made for career PNG-born criminal and heroin addict Solomon Baker who fell to his death from a hospital in the Sydney suburb of Liverpool on April 19. Baker, 33, who was being deported to PNG after living in Australia since he was a child, had warned Serco staff at Sydney's Villawood detention centre in 2011 he was prepared to use “any violence required” to avoid being returned to his home country after he had punched a guard 10 times. He attacked two staff at the hospital before he died. The whistleblower said he decided to break the company's strict secrecy rules “in the hope the attention will force Serco to improve and stop thinking about the bottom line and more about the big picture.” “At the moment they are getting a flogging but still don't care about our reputation as long as the money rolls in,” he said. “What is happening is disgraceful and is placing not only our lives at risk but the lives and general safety of the Australian public.” Serco spokesman Paul Shaw said the company was committed to preventing escapes and protecting staff and those in detention from coming to harm. “Our policies and procedures require thorough operational planning to ensure appropriate resourcing and to mitigate risk,” Mr Shaw said. “We take failure to follow operational planning procedures seriously.” Mr Shaw said two staff have been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. A Senate estimates hearing was told on Tuesday there were 25 asylum seekers still at large out of 63 who had escaped immigration detention centres guarded by Serco in the past year. Fairfax Media revealed last month that Serco's contracts with the government had blown out by $1.5 billion as Australia's border protection strains under the weight of increased flows of asylum seekers. The British-based company has operations worldwide, running prisons, immigration detention, hospitals and traffic management, among others. It employs more than 3000 people, providing immigration services in Australia. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said sanctions could apply to Serco if the company did not meet into contractual obligations. “In the absence of more specific detail, however, it would be inappropriate for the department to speculate on this matter,” he said. Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/escapes-blamed-on-serco-costcutting-20130529-2nb0l.html#ixzz2UxtBiJaY

Private security guards
May 14, 2003
About 40,000 private security guards, some of whom are suspected of having links to organised crime, will soon be forced to go to police stations for fingerprinting in a bid to clean up the industry.  Because the prints will be cross-checked against the unsolved crimes database, police privately hope some of the state's most baffling cases may soon be cleared.  Since the Olympics, the industry has undergone phenomenal growth. After the September 11 attacks and the Bali bombings, security guards have been performing a broader range of roles, including protecting government buildings and icons such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Last year, the Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, revealed that "criminals and their associates have been able to exploit the system to obtain licences and firearms, and inside knowledge of targets, to commit crime".  "This is about providing a safe environment and if that means getting rid of cowboys in the industry, I will do it," he said. Apart from fingerprinting and gun checks, all security guards will have to be Australian citizens or permanent residents. Police also have stronger powers to expel rogue guards.  In the past five years, nearly 1800 applicants have been refused licenses. More than 830 security personnel have had their authority revoked for some breach during their time of employment.  (Smh.com.au)

Scherger Detention Center
Queensland, Australia
Serco

December 3, 2011 The Age
A QUEENSLAND psychiatrist says the remote Scherger detention centre is ''waiting for disaster'' and ''tragedy is very likely to occur'' because asylum seekers can't get adequate health services. Dr Bruce Gynther, of the Cairns health service, told a parliamentary inquiry the psychiatric care being offered at the former airbase in Weipa, 800 kilometres from Cairns, was ''really suboptimal''. Detention centres should be close to hospitals, where sick detainees can be admitted within 24 hours, he said. He also questioned the need to detain asylum seekers. Afghan Meqdad Hussein, 20, committed suicide at Scherger in March. Despite the federal government's recent policy shift to move more boat arrivals out of detention and into the community, Scherger will expand from housing 320 to 600 asylum seekers, the private operator Serco said yesterday. The Labor Party will debate asylum policy at its national conference today, with Labor for Refugees arguing mandatory detention should be restricted to 90 days. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Dr Gynther had confirmed that the Scherger centre was compromising mental health services in the community and indigenous population.

October 24, 2011 The Cairns Post
A TENSE stand-off remains between Tamil asylum seekers and security guards at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre after a fight which resulted in two detainees and a guard being taken to hospital. A Department of Immigration spokesman said one of the detainees remained in hospital with broken teeth and a suspected broken nose. The incident coincides with the news three more suspected asylum-seeker boats were intercepted off the northwest Australian coast at the weekend. The department spokesman confirmed the fight at Scherger, near Weipa, started about 2pm on Saturday. It lasted for three hours and involved about 100 asylum seekers angry at the Serco security staff. Ambulances and more security guards were called in to contain the fight. "The centre was calm by about 5pm," he said. "We understand the past 24 hours has remained calm, and we will await a report from Serco this week before making any further comment." The Refugee Action Coalition is demanding the removal of a Serco guard alleged to have started the fight. The group’s spokesman Ian Rintoul said yesterday reports from inside the centre claimed a Serco officer assaulted the Tamil asylum seeker in the internet room, leaving the man with several broken teeth and a suspected broken nose. "The refugees get allotted time slots for the internet use and have cards for those slots," Mr Rintoul said. "It’s common for the detainees to swap their slots. "When this guy had tried to go into the internet room with someone else’s card the guard had assaulted him." Mr Rintoul also said reports from inside the centre indicated the Serco guard had been involved in earlier altercations with two other asylum seekers; one Tamil and one Afghan. "We are extremely concerned that this incident could become a full-on confrontation," Mr Rintoul said.

July 22, 2011 The Australian
THE unrest at immigration detention centres has spread to the newest mainland facility, with asylum-seekers starting a hunger strike at Scherger. The protest began yesterday at the converted Cape York air force base near Weipa in Queensland, with 60 Afghan Hazara men refusing to eat. The flare-up follows two nights of protests at the detention centre on Christmas Island during which asylum-seekers set buildings and mattresses on fire. The Australian Federal Police had to be called in to halt the destruction, using beanbag bullets and teargas. The Australian understands that 43 of the men demonstrating at Scherger have had their claims for asylum rejected by the Immigration Merit Review process. Others have been waiting months for a decision. The men were distressed and desperate, a friend told The Australian. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said there was no deadline for the protest to finish. "If there was hope, nobody would hunger strike," he said. "Life is wasting away there, and they see Scherger as a dead-end." Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said many of the men had been in detention for between 18 and 22 months. The process of reviewing refugee claims was flawed, he said. "There is no accountability and no transparency, yet these decision-makers are making life-and-death decisions for the asylum-seekers and their families." There are 540 detainees held at the facility, which was originally designed as a six-month stopgap for 300 men. Scherger's capacity has since been increased to 596, and its lifespan as a detention centre has been extended. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the centre was calm. "We can confirm that about 50 detainees are sitting peacefully in an outdoor common area of the Scherger detention centre," the spokesman said. "The department and the detention services provider (Serco) are engaging with the detainees, and food and water are available."

Southern Queensland Correctional Center
Spring Creek, Queensland, Australia
Serco

May 22, 2013 abc.net.au

A union says administration staff performed prison guard duties during strike action at a southern Queensland jail. Some employees at the privately-owned Southern Queensland Correctional Centre walked off the job at the weekend over wages and conditions - they are threatening further action. The jail's owners Serco say some staff not rostered on offered to work during the strike and normal staff levels were maintained. However, Michael Clifford from the United Voice union says the strike did affect the prison's operation. "Nearly all the people covered by this enterprise agreement, the cooks and the dogs and custodial officers, we know that nearly all of those people were on strike," he said. "They have tried to get administrative staff to fill the custodial positions. "They're struggling to make sure they keep the place running. To say it had no impact is completely untrue." Serco says custodial duties were only carried out by "appropriately qualified members of staff with at least a Certificate III in Correctional Practice". "We are committed to running a safe and secure establishment at all times. We operate one of the safest prisons in the state," it said in a statement. Mr Clifford says the union has given notice of more industrial action this weekend but he says further talks with Serco may resolve the matter. "There's always hope that we can avoid the industrial action - it's always a last resort and our members don't take industrial action easily," he said. "They are very angry about the position that the company has adopted in negotiations."Serco says it will continue negotiating with the union.

 

May 24, 2013  au.news.yahoo.com

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has slammed the security firm managing a remote far north Queensland detention centre after six Vietnamese men faced court charged with escaping. Seven men climbed over a fence on Thursday at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre, about 30km east of the Cape York township of Weipa. Mr O'Connor announced on Friday that his department would hold an independent review of the incident. He's asked Serco, the firm that runs the centre, to explain how the men were able to escape and what was being done to stop more breakouts. "Any escape from an immigration detention facility is unacceptable," he said. A Serco spokesman says they are taking the incident seriously and the firm is committed to providing a safe and secure centre. Six of the escapees managed to board a plane at Weipa airport and fly to Cairns, 770km away. Qantas says its staff followed correct procedures when the passengers were checked in at Weipa Airport, where all passengers are screened. "QantasLink staff became aware of some irregular activity with some passengers at Weipa Airport yesterday and contacted the police," a spokeswoman told AAP. She said the matter was now being by the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration. The group, aged 23 to 32, were nabbed by police at a popular backpackers in central Cairns later that day. They appeared in Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday, where their case was adjourned until Monday so they could seek legal advice. Magistrate Anthony Gett said any bail application would unlikely to be granted as the men had been housed at a detention centre. Through an interpreter one of the men asked Mr Gett: "Is there anyway we can get out of here?" The AFP said a seventh man who escaped had not been charged but investigations were continuing. Three other Vietnamese men, aged 24, 22, and 19 and who all hold student visas, are being held in Weipa charged with helping the men escape. Their case was heard in Cairns court on video link. They will reappear on June 3 and will likely be moved to Cairns next month. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said an "organised gang" was involved in helping the men break out of the facility. "(The detention network) shouldn't be vulnerable to organised gangs, effectively, to go and break people out and put them on aeroplanes," he said. "This has been a sophisticated breakout." Mr Morrison called for a full investigation. Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the men may have fled because immigration processing at the centre had stalled. "There is a complete lack of processing and in some instances the Vietnamese are not able to make an application for asylum," he told AAP. He said some Vietnamese had been forced to flee their home country as they had been mistreated because of their involvement in the underground Catholic Church. Weipa Mayor Peter McCulkin said the incident was "isolated" and not a good reflection of the centre. He said it was the first time anyone had escaped since the centre, which can house up to 600 people, opened in 2010.


May 17, 2013 www.brisbanetimes.com.au

More than 100 staff from a southeast Queensland high security prison are set to walk off the job for 48 hours. The Southern Queensland Correctional Centre in Gatton, west of Brisbane, is full with 330 prisoners. Private operator, Serco, is offering its staff a 2.2 per cent wage increase, which is below the 2.3 per cent being offered to Queensland's public servants. Uniting Voice union organiser Michael Clifford said rolling 12-hour stoppages would start on Sunday morning and continue until Monday afternoon. "We will then see whether further action is required later in the week," he said. He said the staff were disappointed by the pay offer after previously receiving a letter from the company's chief executive, Mark Irwin, which praised their work. "Since joining Serco in January I have been incredibly impressed by the staff I have met and your commitment to making a positive difference," Mr Irwin wrote. "So as we come together this week to celebrate our achievements from the past 25 years, I want to take a moment to thank you for your contribution, and to extend that gratitude to partners and families who support you in what you do." Mr Clifford said staff believed Serco's wage offer did not keep up with the cost of living. "CPI nationally is running at 2.5 per cent, so it doesn't even keep them up with CPI," he said. "The company is offering 2.2 per cent, while the average pay increase in enterprise bargaining agreements according to the federal government is 3.8 per cent," he said. Serco was contacted for comment on Friday afternoon, but had not replied by Friday evening.

August 15, 2011 9 News
Queensland's opposition has asked the auditor-general to review the state government's handling of a jail tender it has described as "dodgy". The government announced last month it would temporarily mothball Borallon prison in Ipswich, west of Brisbane, and transfer inmates to a new prison near Gatton due to be opened next year. Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed plans to convert the jail into immigration accommodation, however no final decision has yet been made. Security company Serco, which manages Borallon jail, has been awarded the contract to operate the new jail, Southern Queensland Correctional Centre at Spring Creek. The Liberal National Party (LNP) has labelled this a "dodgy deal". LNP corrective services spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the party had referred the matter to the auditor-general. The auditor-general's office has confirmed it received the LNP's request but as of Monday morning, it was yet to view the details. Mr Langbroek argues the government did not conduct a proper tendering process. "The way this secret deal between Serco, who currently run the prison at Borallon, and the state government has been handled raises many questions," he said. "Under the normal tendering for service process, the contract for service delivery at the new Gatton prison should have been advertised and put to the market to ensure the best value for money was achieved. "This matter deserves due consideration and that's why I have written to the auditor-general seeking advice on whether this deal is in fact legal and meets the state government's own rules and guidelines."

Thomas Embling Hospital
Fairfield, Australia
Group 4

September 7, 2011 The Age
Specialist security guards at a mental health hospital that houses some of Victoria's most disturbed patients have been locked out over a pay push for an extra $2 an hour. The union representing the guards now fears there could be security breaches at the Thomas Embling Hospital, in Fairfield in Melbourne's north-east, which houses psychiatric patients from the prison system, some of them killers found not guilty on the grounds of mental impairment. The Health and Community Services Union said about 10 guards found themselves denied access to the hospital this morning and replaced by guards sent there by security contractor G4S. The hospital's guards have been campaigning for nine months to be paid the same as security officers who worked at public hospitals. They were about to put in place bans on working overtime and filling out paperwork, the union said. Union state secretary Lloyd Williams said the guards were paid about $18 an hour, despite requiring specialist qualifications in dealing with patients in a mental health hospital. The rate is about 10 per cent lower than they received by guards who patrol public hospitals. He said his members wanted pay parity with colleagues at public hospitals. Mr Williams doubted whether the replacement guards had the appropriate skills to work at the hospital, and lacked the detailed knowledge of patients and daily running of the centre. He warned of a risk to the safety of patients, hospital staff and even the public if security was breached. "That's our concern, that when - and not if - there is a security problem, these people who are there now will not be able to respond appropriately," he said. The hospital experienced one security breach yesterday, when a man considered by police to be dangerous failed to return after being sent out on day release. Dwayne Lee Spintal, 37, was apprehended peacefully by detectives in South Yarra this morning. Mr Williams said the standing down of the hospital's guards had been felt already, as one patient who was scheduled to be taken to another hospital for medical treatment had to have his treatment cancelled. "They clearly don't know how to run the facility because senior management are shadowing them as we speak, making sure that something doesn't go wrong," he said. "We know already because of the situation that a patient who needed to go out of the hospital for [medical] treatment had to have that treatment cancelled. "Clearly [G4S] are putting their profits ahead of patient treatment." G4S said in a statement it replaced the guards under provisions of the Fair Work Act.

Victoria Courts
Sydney, Australia
Group 4

September 9, 2009 Australian Associated Press
GUARDS who screen people entering Victoria's courts and providing in-court security are threatening to strike over a long-running pay dispute. The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) says a strike by the guards, employed by security contractor G4S, could shut down Victoria's court system. LHMU assistant state secretary Ben Redford says the guards just want the same pay rates as their peers at other major contractors in Victoria. "These guards keep our courts safe and secure - they ensure the wheels of justice are not derailed by criminals and terrorists," said Mr Redford. "They take their jobs very seriously - they don't want to go on strike but they are trapped on poverty wages and have an employer that won't bargain in good faith. "A strike by these low-paid guards could shut down Victoria's court system." A spokesman for G4S said the company was offering a three-year deal commencing in 2010, with annual pay rises of 4.5 per cent, four per cent and three per cent in succession. "We are very close to reaching agreement. The only sticking point is we want a three-year deal and they want two years," spokesman Tim Hall said. "We believe a three-year agreement will give the company stability in the current economic climate and the pay rises are extremely competitive." While the union is happy with the 4.5 and four per cent rises, it wants the agreement to be renegotiated late in the second year to provide a better deal for 2012. "Our members feel that it's a bit like blackmail - 'we'll give you what you want for two years in return for a dud deal in the third year'," Mr Redford said. "The three per cent for that third year is unlikely to be on a par with inflation." Guards have been in negotiations with G4S since November 2008 and say their employer is not bargaining in good faith. The UK-based G4S operates private prisons, prisoner transport, court security and immigration detention centres across Australia. It has more then 585,000 part-time and full-time employees across 115 countries.

Villawood Detention Centre
Sydney, Australia
Serco (Global Solutions, formerly run by Group 4 and Wackenhut Corrections)
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit: Expose on immigration by Nina Bernstein at the New York Times, September 28, 2011

December 12, 2011 The Daily Telegraph
RIOTING asylum seekers have caused almost $20 million in damage to immigration detention centres - nearly double original estimates. New Department of Immigration figures show five riots at Villawood in Sydney, Christmas Island and Darwin have cost an estimated $17.6 million - and that could rise. The most damage was caused at Villawood with the repair bill reaching $9.271 million. While insurance will cover much of the costs, the government revealed it would be liable for the first $1 million of each claim, or 10 per cent of the total bill. According to documents released last Friday night, the cost of the Christmas Island riot in March is now estimated at $5.05 million - double the original figure of $2.5 million. The government claimed the subsequent riots at Villawood, when inmates set fire to several buildings a month later, will cost 50 per cent more than the $6 million originally estimated. There were two riots also at Darwin and another at Christmas Island. "The total cost of estimated damage across all five events as of October 14, 2011, is $17,636,366," the department said. "This estimate is likely to change as quotations for repairs are obtained and works undertaken." The revised costs follow the release of an independent report last week which suggested overcrowding was the cause of the tension and unrest and the trigger for the riots. But, it found no fault with the Department of Immigration or the detention centre operator, Serco. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "This government's contracts with Serco require it to have full private insurance cover of its facilities, which is why the costs to the Commonwealth relating to damage caused at detention centres are so low. "In its hypocritical hysteria, the Coalition seems to have forgotten its record of passing on the costs of detention riots to the taxpayer: they had four detention centre riots in a single month - December 2002 - at a cost of many millions."

November 30, 2011 The Age
THE Immigration Department was warn