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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 6148

Asylum Seekers

(Question No. 897)


Senator Abetz asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, upon notice, on 1 August 2011:

Has the department contracted for the provision of Employment Assistance Programs for:

(a) staff on Christmas Island; and

(b) staff at other immigration detention facilities

if so:

(a) who is eligible to access these programs at these facilities;

(b) what have been the contractual amounts paid and the corresponding contract periods for these programs at each detention facility since 1 January 2008;

(c) how many people have accessed these programs at each facility in each of these contract periods above or in each 6 month period since 1 January 2008; and

(d) has the department received statistical reports identifying critical issues affecting staff, if so, in each instance and for each facility:

(i) what issues have been identified;

(ii) what numbers or percentage of staff have been affected; and

(iii) what action has been taken to address these issues.


Senator Carr: The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(a) Yes - Davidson Trahaire Corpsych (DTC) is the Department’s contracted provider and provides Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services for staff on Christmas Island.

(b) Yes - EAP programs and services are available for staff at all immigration detention facilities (IDFs).

(a) All departmental staff working at IDFs are eligible to access EAP services. EAP services may also be accessed by interpreter staff following critical incidents.

(b) EAP services, specific to IDFs, were not provided for the period 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2008. Departmental staff working at IDFs prior to 1 January 2009 did have access at all times to the Department’s existing national EAP services.

From 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2011, $2.63 million was paid to DTC for contracted EAP services provided specifically for staff working at IDFs. Table 1 provides a break down of EAP service costs associated with staff working at IDFs since 1 January 2009.

Table 1 - EAP service costs since 1 January 2009

Location/ Service

Total Cost of services

Christmas Island

$991,116

Curtin

$228,621

Leonora

$119,037

Darwin

$205,077

Scherger

$171,686

Total (onsite services)

$1,715,537

(c) Table 2 shows the number of staff who have accessed EAP services specifically provided by DTC to staff working at IDFs for each six month period since 1 January 2009, when such services commenced.

Table 2 - EAP services provided in each 6 month period since 2009

Period

Christmas Island

Curtin

Leonora

Darwin

Scherger

1/1/2009 - 30/6/2009

54

nil

nil

nil

nil

1/7/2009 - 31/12/2009

132

nil

nil

nil

nil

1/1/2010 - 30/6/2010

337

nil

nil

nil

nil

1/7/2010 - 31/12/2010

458

196

18

170

94

1/1/2011 - 30/6/2011

673

251

40

256

184

(d) Yes. Confidential site specific reports are regularly provided by DTC to each IDF manager and the national OHS team.

(i) The issues vary from report to report, but include:

staff accommodation;

isolation and close living;

travel and allowances;

workload;

work related interpersonal and relationship issues; and

personal issues (e.g. family and relationship issues).

(ii) The overall number of staff accessing EAP services at each IDF is summarised in Table 2. It is not possible to provide the percentage of staff affected by particular issues. The dynamic nature of IDF operations means that the number of staff at each IDF changes and the duration of each deployment can vary. Consequently, percentages can not be accurately calculated.

Further, the Department’s EAP provider reports on the number of instances each service is accessed rather than the number of staff accessing each service. This means that it is not possible to know (for example) whether one person accessed EAP services 13 times, or 13 people accessed the service on one occasion each. Accordingly, it is not possible to report on the percentage of affected staff.

(iii) All critical issues identified by DTC and affecting individual staff are managed by the relevant IDF manager, the Detention Operations Division and appropriate support teams in national office, as required.