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Thursday, 26 June 2003
Page: 17845


Mr Danby asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 3 March 2003:

(1) What are the procedures visitors must follow when delivering parcels to individual asylum seekers in detention.

(2) What can be delivered.

(3) When can items be delivered.

(4) What checks are performed on packages.

(5) Can visitors give packages directly to detainees; if not, why not.

(6) Who is responsible for ensuring a package is delivered to a detainee.

(7) Is it the case that until recently visitors could not leave packages for more than one detainee at a time; if so, (a) when was this policy changed, (b) why was this limit imposed and (c) why was the policy changed.

(8) What is the reason for this policy.

(9) Was it set by the Government or by a private security firm.

(10) Are there records on the number of packages delivered to detainees; if so, will he provide details.


Mr Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) When delivering parcels to individual detainees in immigration detention, visitors will be required to leave their possessions in a locker provided, and to hand any packages, gifts or money for the detainee to the detention officer for recording, receipting and passing on to the detainees. There are two detention officers as witnesses to receipt money and valuables.

Approved articles that are handed to visits officers on behalf of detainees are receipted by two detention officers and the visitor. Money and/or small valuables are then placed in the detainee safe deposit box (for detainees held at an IRPC, Australian currency is placed in a trust account). Detainees can access both their safe deposit box and their trust account upon request.

As a condition of entry, visitors and packages may be required to pass through a metal detector. Should this not be possible, a hand held metal detector is used. The suitability of any items that set off the alarm is assessed as to whether they can be brought into the centre. If required, the items are recorded as being brought into the centre and also recorded when they are taken out of the centre. If a visitor fails to satisfy an officer that they are not carrying a banned item, entry to the centre can be refused.

A `Conditions of Entry for Visitors' sign clearly describing conditions of entry and banned items is prominently displayed in each visit reception area. A person about to enter an immigration detention facility is given access to written information, which explains:

The screening process;

If he or she is requested to undergo a search, the legislative requirements for conducting a search;

The process to be used for the search;

The person's rights under law with regard to the search, such as the right of the person not to undergo screening;

The power to retain items, the possession of which is unlawful under the Commonwealth or State law in which a detention facility is located.

(2) Persons entering an immigration detention facility can bring into a centre any article except those considered to be contraband. Items routinely delivered include reading material and foodstuff.

Contraband is any article within a centre or in the possession of any person within a centre, not authorised by the Centre Manager and may include but is not restricted to:

Mobile telephones, handbags/wallets, cameras and radio cassettes with recording facility, canned food, glass bottles/plates and cups, cigarette lighters/matches, pornographic material, alcohol, illegal substances and items that could be used as weapons or to conceal weapons or illegal material.

Visitors wishing to bring items into the centre that they are unsure of, ie whether it is regarded as contraband, are advised to seek approval from Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), prior to bringing those items into a centre.

Detainees are also permitted to receive items from the community through the provision of mail services. ACM staff deliver mail to detainees and obtain a signature following clearance from DIMIA. Detainees are required to open mail in the presence of an ACM officer. The officer is to ensure that the mail does not contain contraband, money or any illegal substances. Items in mail are entered on the `In Trust Property Card' or given as `In Possession Property' and recorded on the individual detainee file.

Money and or valuables sent through the post are also placed in an individual safety deposit box for the detainee.

(3) Items may be delivered between normal business hours. Signage regarding visiting hours is displayed in a prominent position in the front reception area of each centre. These are published by the Centre Manager. A visitor may apply to seek approval from the Centre Manager to deliver items outside normal hours, prior to bringing those items into the facility. The Centre Manager may consult with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) as to whether it is appropriate to allow the contact in the circumstances.

WOOMERA

Visiting hours at the Centre are - Morning 0900 to 1200hrs and Afternoon 1330 to 1700hrs

A visitor may apply to have contact with a detainee at any time and the Centre Manager will consider the reason.

PORT HEDLAND

Visiting hours are 0900 to 1100 and 1400 to 1700

The only contact outside of normal visiting hours is via telephone or mail.

VILLAWOOD

Stage 1 - 1300 to 1600hrs

Stage 2 and 3 - 1330 to 1900hrs

For agents and lawyers, they can visit anytime between 0900 and 1700 hrs, as long as they have a booked appointment.

Outside visiting hours, detainees can only be contacted by phone.

PERTH

Visiting hours are 0930 to 1130, 1430 to 1700 and 1830 to 2000. Food, clothing and documents will not be accepted outside of visiting times. Visitors are not permitted to leave items for detainees once processing of visitors has ceased (20 minutes before cessation of visits session).

If the detainee is leaving early in the morning, luggage can be accepted. A receipt will be issued by Centre Control.

BAXTER

Items can be delivered to the Gatehouse (main entrance) anytime as the Centre is open 24 hours. Visit hours are - Monday to Sunday 0900 to 1200 and 1300 to 1600. On Tuesday and Thursday 1830 to 2030.

MARIBYRNONG

Items can be left at all visits sessions, however, ACM request that luggage not be brought in at evening visits. Can be done with DIMIA approval though.

Food, clothing and documents will not be accepted outside of visiting hours.

Visits sessions are 0900 - 1200 hrs, 1400 - 1700hrs and 1900 - 2100hrs

CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Items may be delivered between normal business hours. Visitors can drop off goods and not necessarily want to actually visit the detainee, ie. may be a food package for a select group (such as end of Ramadan). Visit times are Monday to Friday 1000 to 1200 and 1400 to 1600.

(4) As a condition of entry, packages and mail are required to pass through a metal detector. Should this not be possible, a hand held metal detector is used. All packages are opened by the detainee in the presence of an officer. Items again are entered on the `In Trust Property Card' or given as `In Possession Property'. Staff also hand deliver mail to detainees following clearance from DIMIA. Detainees will open mail in the presence of an officer. The officer is to ensure that mail or packages do not contain contraband, money or any illegal items.

(5) Visitors can not give packages directly to detainees for security reasons, so as to ensure that no prohibited or illegal items are allowed into the Centre (see also answer to part (2)).

(6) The detention service provider is responsible for ensuring a package is delivered to a detainee. A visitor hands approved items to the Property Officer who receipts the items, with the visitor receiving the receipt and a copy to the detainee. Money received by visitors for detainees is witnessed by two officers and receipted by the Property officer from the visitor and placed in the detainee safe deposit box.

(7) This has not been the policy of any immigration detention facility at any time.

(8) Not applicable.

(9) Not applicable.

(10) A form is completed by each visitor bringing parcels into the Centre. Receipts are issued. Records of all packages mailed or left by visitors are recorded on individual detainee's files. There is no central register.

If and when the detainees are released from the centre or depart, they are requested to sign off every item that is recorded under their names before leaving the centre.