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Border Force takes control of detention centres turning them into jails smh 5 December 2015

Controversial Border Force takes control of detention centres, turns them into 'jails'
Environment and immigration correspondent
The Australian Border Force has taken control of the nation's immigration detention centres, implementing a "command and control" regime that has allegedly overseen the hand-cuffing of mentally ill detainees travelling to counselling and banning outings for children.
The Border Force, the military-style government outfit which in August proposed random visa checks that forced a Melbourne police operation to be aborted, confirmed it has taken "a more active role" in managing onshore detention centres since the force was established in July. This includes a "more uniform approach to managing the safety and security of detainees".

The Border Force this week confirmed it had cancelled a program run by nuns at the Melbourne Immigration and Transit Accommodation centre [MITA], which involved taking children outside the facility for picnics, ice-cream and trips to the playground or the zoo.
A Border Force spokesman said the outings also involved adult detainees and were scrapped due to "lack of proper oversight". He said community excursions still occur, supervised by trained staff.
Refugee advocate Pamela Curr said security provisions in detention centres such as MITA were "being stepped up to an unbelievable level" and detainees say "every day a new rule is being brought in".

She said one badly ill man with poor kidney function was restrained during a visit to a specialist doctor, which prevented him from giving a urine sample because "the guards would not undo the handcuffs".
Another man was forced to undergo a hand X-ray while wearing handcuffs and women leaving the detention centre for a medical appointment or counselling were forced to undergo pat-downs, Ms Curr said.
"That means women guards run their hands over their breasts, their bottom, their legs," she said, saying this had induced panic attacks in detainees with a history of being sexually abused.

Ms Curr said a fence more than four metres high had been built at MITA, and "children are now virtually living in a prison".
Visiting time was now highly regulated and children leaving the centre to attend school were accompanied by uniformed guards, causing them to be ridiculed by other children, she said. The Border Force confirmed a perimeter fence had been improved after a number of escapes from MITA, and did not deny the other allegations.
Amnesty International Australia refugee coordinator Graham Thom said security in detention centres was also heightened after detainees with criminal histories flooded the system.
Under recent laws, people can have their visas cancelled if they have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.
"We have great concerns about what that is doing to safety, and the increased security and therefore the mental health of asylum seekers in detention," Dr Thom said.
Dr Thom said he had heard anecdotal reports of a more "hands on" approach to security, including towards mentally ill detainees.
"Not only are people more routinely being handcuffed but … while they are outside the centre, a staff person has to have a physical hand on the individual when taking them to counselling," he said.
"You can only imagine the increased stress and pressure that puts on somebody."
Refugee advocate Jane Healey said there had been a "marked" increase in security under Border Force, including greater force towards detainees, more asylum seekers being placed in isolation and tighter visitor security.
The Border Force spokesman said it took a "compassionate approach to the care of those in detention".
"The ABF and its service providers work together in the management of detention centres, with security and safety of detainees, personnel and visitors the key priority," he said.
Meanwhile, more than 3150 doctors and other health professionals have signed a petition calling on the federal government to immediately release children and their families from immigration detention.
Sydney Children's Hospital paediatrician Karen Zwi, one of the petition's organisers, said the signatories were concerned at the time children had spent in detention.
"There appears to be no resolution to these circumstances ... and we know more harm is produced as children stay longer in detention," she said.

The government has previously said many children were in detention because their parents were subject to adverse security assessments.

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