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Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee
12/06/2014
Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014

IACONO, Mr Christopher Robert, Private Capacity

JUDGE, Miss Nicole Louise, Private Capacity

[11:45]

CHAIR: Welcome. Miss Judge, the committee has received your written submission as submission No. 12, and Mr Iacono, the committee has received your written submission as submission No. 20. Do either of you wish to make any amendments or alterations to your submissions?

Miss Judge : No.

Mr Iacono : No.

CHAIR: I am going to go through some information that I need to provide. I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. The committee emphasises, however, that parliamentary privilege does not extend outside of Australia and that Australian law cannot protect individuals in another country, whether they are Australian nationals or not. For this reason, and so as not to prejudice ongoing criminal investigations and legal proceedings, the committee urges witnesses to exercise caution with regard to naming or otherwise identifying individuals located outside Australia, including Papua New Guinean nationals, who are alleged to have been involved in the incident at the Manus Island detention centre during 16 to 18 February. Is there anything you would like to add to the capacity in which you appear today?

Mr Iacono : Although I am speaking on behalf of myself, I am a former Salvation Army worker.

CHAIR: As you have both said you would like to make a short opening statement before we go to questions, I ask you to keep your statements brief.

Miss Judge : That is fine. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be able to give evidence today. My name is Nicole Judge, and I was an employee for the Salvation Army for just under 1½ years as a general support worker and stand-in case manager in both the Manus Island and the Nauru regional processing centres. I am currently a student at Macquarie University in Sydney, studying psychology.

When I heard about the opportunity to start work on Nauru with the Salvation Army, I was not affiliated with any political party, I was not a member of any advocacy organisation and, to be honest, I did not even really understand what it meant to be a refugee. I did not understand the political motivation behind the slogan of stopping the boats, and still I do not. I did, however, understand what it meant to treat a human being with respect and dignity. I knew the difference between right and wrong and all I have seen is wrong.

When I arrived on Manus Island during September 2013, I had previously worked on Nauru for one year. I thought I had seen it all: suicide attempts, people jumping off buildings, people stabbing themselves, people screaming for freedom whilst beating their heads on concrete. Unfortunately I was wrong; I had not seen it all. Manus Island shocked me to my core. I saw sick and defeated men crammed behind fences and being denied their basic human rights, padlocked inside small areas in rooms often with no windows and being mistreated by those who were employed to care for their safety. I saw expatriate guards physically beat transferees. I also saw and heard expatriate and national G4S guards insult the religious and cultural beliefs of transferees. In saying that, it was not necessarily the direct face-to-face insults to transferees that shocked me; it was the laughing and joking behind their backs on their lunch breaks and the blatant disregard and disrespect for people, real people, who we were supposed to be looking after.

Aside from general overall mistreatment, the difference between Manus Island and Nauru is that we were constantly warned about the threat to everyone's safety—not from the transferees inside, but from the PNG locals outside. I was not at all surprised when I received panicked Facebook messages and phone calls on both nights of 16 and 17 February. When I rang my colleague who was on the Bibby Progress at the time and he told me, 'They're being killed'—'they' being the transferees—I honestly believed that the morning news would tell of large-scale deaths and mass injuries. When I heard that only one man was deceased, I was more surprised at this news rather than the event itself. It was not unknown that an attack from the outside could occur. It was expected.

I do not at all believe that the catalyst for this attack was a meeting on 16 February regarding processing. It was already quite apparent that the local community expressed significant anger towards the operations of the centre, its staff and asylum seekers. It was already quite apparent that there was a direct threat to the centre's overall safety from the outside, not from the inside. I know this as I have lived it too.

I, too, felt scared for my safety because of the safety precautions that I was required to take when outside the facility and when engaging with locals. I also felt unsafe around certain expatriate and local G4S guards, as I was consistently sexually harassed and intimidated by them. Whilst working at the centre I did not feel as though I could continue to report their behaviour as, when I did, the harassment only became worse. At times, I also did not feel I could report their misbehaviour towards either staff or transferees to Salvation Army management. This was due to close personal relationships that had formed between the two management groups and what I perceived to be the collaboration of incident reports and interagency support.

On 18 October 2013, there was a gunfight between national PNG forces directly outside the centre. There was a total evacuation of all staff, leaving transferees to fend for themselves against possible armed forces. This left me and my colleagues wondering how it would be possible to run from weapon fire inside a padlocked compound. After this event it was commonly and openly discussed that, in the event of a potential riot or protest, PNG police or nationals would fire weapons into the compounds, which would most likely result in deaths.

Between September 2013 and 21 December, over five protests were held by PNG nationals, making it unsafe for staff to walk to and from the centre and to visit the town, even during daylight hours. I was constantly informed that I should never walk alone at any time due to threats to my personal safety. I was told I could be attacked or raped by PNG national people at any time. I was told to fear these people and I did fear them. I felt safer inside the centre than outside.

Again, on my second rotation, an attempted invasion into Delta compound by locals armed with machetes occurred. I was told I could not evacuate. I was told by an expatriate G4S guard that I was safer inside with the asylum seekers as my security. At this time, the asylum seekers told me they would protect me from any threat from the outside. On top of these events and comments to transferees by staff that PNG nationals were cannibals and murderous people, local PNG nationals walked outside the facility daily carrying machetes, evoking fear into the transferees. PNG navy police regularly stood outside the centre in numbers chewing the stimulant betel nut, waiting for any form of disturbance, minor or not, for the opportunity to showcase their authority of numbers.

The attacks on asylum seekers were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.

CHAIR: Thank you Ms Judge and Mr Iacono.

Mr Iacono : Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee as well. I was employed by the Salvation Army as a support worker from September 2012 until February 2014. I spent the first year on Nauru before being moved to Manus on 3 September 2013. After a year on Nauru, I thought I would be prepared for anything but Manus was a much harsher and degrading environment to live in, both for the staff and the asylum seekers as well as the hostile, upset and angry local population.

Before being given plane tickets to Manus, we were warned by email not to leave the hotel. Port Moresby was an unsafe place. You could not walk the streets or use public transport. Before we even arrived, our safety was thrown into question. On my first day on Manus Island, I was told repeatedly by fellow TSA and the G4S guy running the induction that protest action by locals had occurred in August. They had blocked access to the centre as well as closing down the rubbish tip. This was evidenced by large piles of rubbish collecting within 10 metres of the asylum seekers' accommodation. We were warned to be careful of groups of locals as they could become aggressive.

The second event occurred on 18 October. There was an armed confrontation outside the fence line, in sight of asylum seekers, between PNG police and the PNG navy personnel. There had been a mass evacuation of staff at the centre, leaving the asylum seekers to fend for themselves in case the incident escalated. When I later saw the asylum seekers they were shaken and afraid at having been left alone. From this day forward, asylum seekers were wary of PNG nationals and questioned their own safety. A TSA manager told us to ring our families and alert them that we were safe. The asylum seekers were not afforded this luxury.

The third event that forewarned these events that took place on 17 February occurred in October as well, I believe. Locals attempted to scale the fences in Delta compound, armed with machetes. I was barred from going down to Delta or Oscar during this time. After this event, the asylum seekers were terrified of the locals and they were scared that they would attempt to come again during that night. This event blatantly showed the asylum seekers were not safe and that the locals presented a real danger. Word of this incident spread through the entire centre quickly. All the asylum seekers were on high alert, especially when locals frequently walked past carrying machetes and knives. Everyone was fearful of the next attack.

During my four rotations I was constantly warned not to walk outside the centre at night by myself or in small groups because of the high risk of violence that could occur. Trips to town were cancelled regularly due to unrest within the local population. All staff were placed on high alert when the PNG naval personnel had parties at the officers bar close to the centre. We were told they could become violent and aggressive when they were drunk. One night after one of these gatherings a local man was found beaten up on the path to the staff accommodation, reportedly by navy personnel.

The threat posed by the PNG nationals was very real and was often the source of intimidation used by G4S against asylum seekers. Stories of cannibalism being rampant, of high levels of criminal activity especially towards foreigners, as well as of the high level of HIV in the PNG population were told to asylum seekers constantly. In September the asylum seekers learnt of a fatal attack against a group of Australian trekkers in PNG. They had been attacked by locals armed with machetes. This scared the asylum seekers and reinforced the belief that they would not be safe anywhere in PNG.

The government website Smartraveller advises people to 'exercise a high degree of caution in PNG because of the high level of crime' and to 'reconsider your need to travel' there. Smartraveller also states that 'ethnic disputes continue to flare up around the country' and that there has been an increase in reported incidents of sexual assault, including gang rape, targeted at foreigners. This is the same government that wants to settle these foreigners in that country.

There is no doubt in my mind that the government and all stakeholders were fully aware of the very real danger to everyone in that centre, including the asylum seekers, especially after the increasing aggression displayed by locals in the five months leading up to 17 February.

The first peaceful protests held by asylum seekers in January in Oscar compound consisted of chanting 'Freedom' and parading around. This occurred daily while I was there and continued afterwards. The asylum seekers assured me they would not assault anyone or damage anything, as they had learnt what had happened to the alleged rioters on Nauru and the fate that could await them. The asylum seekers told me they were protesting to get media attention and show the world the extremely harsh conditions they were living in. They also stated they did not want to be settled in a hostile country with little opportunity.

On the night of the attack I was in Melbourne with Nicole, a former support worker as well. She received a call from an asylum seeker from Mike compound at around 11 pm, telling her the electricity had been cut and they were being attacked and killed by locals. They were scared and did not know what to do. They reported many people had been injured and many could be dead. Nicole directed him and the group he was with to barricade their door with library shelves and remain safely inside.

Following the call, Nicole was able to get in contact with a TSA employee on Manus Island. He stated they had been evacuated long ago but they had heard many gunshots already. Contact with this employee continued late into the night. He related information of asylum seekers being treated in the makeshift hospital out the front of the Bibby and that he had heard more gunshots afterwards. He was adamant that people would die that night, and he was right. One man did.

I have heard from asylum seekers and staff that the locals attacked the centre that night, and the day before local cleaners had cleared rocks from the compounds. The facts I hear from these people never change, although the immigration minister has changed his story on multiple occasions and it still does not add up. Why, if there was a riot, are there no reports of injured locals, whereas one asylum seeker was murdered and many more were maimed and severely injured? It appears to be yet another attack against some of the world's most vulnerable people.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mr Iacono.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thanks very much for coming along. It must be a bit nerve-racking to come to a Senate inquiry and to give evidence openly as you have done. Thanks for doing that. Have you ever met a politician before?

Miss Judge : No, but we watch you on TV.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You cannot have much of a life if that is what you do!

Miss Judge : No, not any more.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: What work experience had either of you had before you started with the Salvation Army?

Miss Judge : I had a little bit of experience working with the homeless in Sydney, but I worked at JB Hi-Fi.

Mr Iacono : I was a Macdonald's manager. That is it.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Have either of you been to any third-world country?

Miss Judge : We had; yes.

Mr Iacono : We had. We had been to China.

Miss Judge : I have been to a few.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am not sure that China would call itself Third World these days but—

Mr Iacono : Not these days, no.

Miss Judge : It is not similar to PNG, no.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You described some very difficult circumstances in Manus but I think you also acknowledge that that is PNG. You knew that before you went up there. That did not deter either of you from—

Miss Judge : We had heard, when we were working in Nauru that staff were pulling out of PNG. We never wanted to go to PNG. I know I did not; I had heard horror stories about it. It was after the alleged riot that they told us we would go there and we went thinking that we would be sent back to Nauru. We did not want to go there.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You give an account of fear and all the threats made against you—

Miss Judge : Yes.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: But you did not think it was worthwhile saying, 'I'm resigning. I'm outa here! I'll go back to Australia, where it's safe.'

Miss Judge : No, because we knew that there was work to be done there. I do not think we knew the extent of how unsafe it was. We knew that PNG was dangerous. We were working with asylum seekers in Manus Island; we did not expect what happened.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Manus Island is a different country, of course. With regard to PNG, I love them all, and they are proud of their country but you cannot work down a street in Lae, at all—the second biggest city—and in Port Moresby you have to be careful where you go.

You would probably both be pleased that there are no more asylum seekers coming to Australia since the boats have been stopped—that one-line slogan that you mentioned—so there will be no more new transferees going to PNG. Are you happy about that?

Miss Judge : I would not say that I was happy. We are turning boats back. I do not think that is something that I am happy about but I am happy that no more people are being put in the conditions that they are in in Nauru and Manus. But I would not go as far as to say that I am happy that people are not coming.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: We will not have a debate. There is evidence that the asylum seekers were calling the PNG nationals 'niggers' and 'cannibals' and 'gay people' and all the abuse of racist and sexist terms. Did you experience any of that sort of behaviour by the asylum seekers?

Miss Judge : I think they were obviously upset at their situation. I never heard them insult the colour of their skin or their sexuality, ever. There was no cross-cultural awareness of either group but I would not say that they were calling them racist names.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Did the asylum seekers shout abuse in whatever form? Did they call them 'cannibals' or 'black fellas'?

Miss Judge : They were told by staff that they were cannibals. So they used to come and ask us, 'Are these people cannibals?'

Senator IAN MACDONALD: No, my question is: did you see the asylum seekers shouting at PNG nationals—who were there in once capacity or another—these derogatory terms?

Miss Judge : The only person I saw them shouting out at was Scott Morrison, when he came in November.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Okay. Yes. When you first went there and discovered all these problems did you write to your local MP, or perhaps to Mr Rudd, the Labor Prime Minister who sent them there?

Miss Judge : No.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You did not feel offended enough then to take some action like that?

Miss Judge : I think when you are asking questions like that you have to consider the context of the situation that we were in. We did not feel that we could speak to anyone. We were bound by these confidentiality agreements—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Do you think if you wrote to Mr Rudd, as Prime Minister—who actually started the Manus and Nauru thing—and said, 'Dear Mr Rudd, these conditions are appalling; you shouldn't have done it,' you would be, somehow, penalised.

Miss Judge : Yes.

Mr Iacono : Yes. You would think that as the Prime Minister he would know what was happening over there.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Do you think he knew what was happening?

Mr Iacono : I think he did know and he did not care.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: He did not care.

Mr Iacono : The conditions were set up to make these people return home, I believe.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Did many of the people that you came in contact with want to go home—that is, to where they came from?

Mr Iacono : No. I believe that none of them wanted to return. Why would you make the journey if you wanted to return home? That just sounds silly to me. People want to return home now as they fear for their lives over there.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Their purpose of gaining asylum was because they feared for their lives in their home country yet they now fear for their lives in PNG. They would rather go back—

Mr Iacono : Yes; that is the situation they are in now. They stay there and fear for their lives or they go home and fear for their lives with their families. At least they have their families there. In PNG they do not have their families.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Whereas Mr Rudd arranged for them to stay in PNG, the current government is looking at other places that are, perhaps, more 'civilised'—places like Vietnam, Cambodia—

Miss Judge : I think they are shirking their responsibility. They came to Australia; they did not come seeking asylum in PNG or Cambodia or any other country.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You are aware that there are literally millions of people waiting in refugee camps to come to Australia—waiting their turn? Are you aware of that?

Miss Judge : I just think that, as a signatory to the refugee convention, using the argument that people are waiting in line is not valid. The facts of the matter—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You do not think that people who are following the rules—waiting in squalid refugee camps right around the world to be one of the 13,000 that get into Australia—should be overborne by wealthy, very often well-educated people who take the risk to come here illegally?

Miss Judge : Personally—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am asking for your view.

Miss Judge : My opinion is that they do not come illegally. They come unlawfully but by calling them illegal you are just dehumanising them even more.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Do you think that that is fair to the refugees in the squalid camps around the world that have been waiting for years to get—

Miss Judge : I do not think you can consider it in relation to that. We are talking about people who have come to seek asylum in Australia and are being sent to Manus Island and Nauru and who are being treated like animals. They are here now. We have to do something about it. We should not be sending them to these places and treating them the way we are. Let's look at it in the context of them killing a man. What are we supposed to do?—let them stay there—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: There were 300 or 400 people killed on boats coming to Australia. Did you raise your voice in protest against that?

Miss Judge : At that time, before I started work, I was not thinking about refugees, as I stated in my statement, but when I got there I started thinking about—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Do you think they are better off in the camps in Manus than drowning in the Indian Ocean?

Miss Judge : I feel that the questions you are asking are not even relevant to the investigation. We are talking about Manus Island and Nauru. We are not talking about my political opinion of something in another country. We are talking about Reza Berati and the events that led up to that. We are not talking about people drowning at sea.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is legitimate for the committee to see where you are coming from in the evidence you give.

Miss Judge : Where I am coming from is that we mistreated asylum seekers in Manus Island. That is what I am here to talk about. I am not here to talk about people dying at sea. I am upset if people die at sea but I am upset that somebody killed Reza Berati and injured countless others. That is what I am here to talk about.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: But you are also upset that many hundreds died—

Miss Judge : Of course; as a human being, why wouldn't I be?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Okay.

Mr Iacono : There are other policies that could be implemented—not just Manus Island—to stop the boats.

Miss Judge : We are not going to suggest that. Can we talk about what we are here to talk about, because that is what I want to talk about.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I have read your submission. I know what you are here—

Miss Judge : Okay, can I have some questions in relation to my submission?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I thought all of my questions were relevant to—

Miss Judge : I do not think they are.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is commendable that you are concerned but it seems to be a lately acquired concern—one that you did not seem to worry about when 300 people were being killed on the boats. The boats have stopped now. That will not happen any more.

CHAIR: I will give you an opportunity to answer that question. I think there was a question implied there.

Miss Judge : When I started work I was 22 years old. I was a student. I suppose, in a way, I was focused on myself. I was not thinking about—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: How old are you now?

Miss Judge : Twenty four. I was not thinking, 'Unfortunately, these people are dying at sea.' As I said, I did not even know what a refugee really was. Now I am thinking about the bigger picture. I am upset by the whole issue but I just do not see how bringing up deaths at sea is any relation to—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is very difficult to understand what a lot of Senate committees are all about and what they ask, so you are not alone there.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Thank you both, for your testimonies today. I want to follow up on one of the questions that Senator Macdonald asked you about what you did before you were deployed to Nauru and then onto Manus Island. One of you was a Macdonald's worker and—

Ms Judge : A salesperson.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: a salesperson at JB Hi-Fi.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I have no connection with Macdonald's, I might add, unfortunately!

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What training were you given by the Salvation Army or, indeed, the department of immigration before you were deployed?

Ms Judge : I was given no training. I did not even have a job interview.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: You did not even have a job interview?

Ms Judge : No.

Mr Iacono : No job interview. I did not even hand in a resume or talk to them before I landed on the island for the first time.

Ms Judge : It sounds unbelievable, but—

Mr Iacono : We answered a Facebook post by Salvation Army on a Macquarie University website.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Do you remember what the Facebook meme said?

Ms Judge : Yes. It described going to Nauru as like a holiday, and that it would be really fun. I called the phone number and they asked me when can I go and did I know anyone that could come along. I had two friends from school. Simon Taylor submitted something as well. I called them. Then I think it was two or three days later we were in Nauru. That is what happened.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I have been to the Nauru detention centre. I have also been to Manus Island. I would not describe either of those locations as holiday destinations. The work that all of the staff do, whether they are in the welfare officer roles, as both of you were, or the security officers, my impression is that it is hard yakka, physically and emotionally. The hours are long. I have spoken to many staff off duty after I have been in the centre and they talk about the constant change between the day and night shifts plays havoc with your own body clock. Were they all things that you expected?

Ms Judge : No. I did not expect anything like that. I honestly thought that going into this it would be some kind of fun experience. I hate to say that because it sounds so naive, but that is what I thought. I was not expecting the heat, the hours, the change in shifts, nothing like that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What about the interaction with the asylum seekers? Let's focus now on Manus. What did you do during the day with them? What did your job comprise? Can you explain that a little bit for us?

Ms Judge : We did not have a job description, but what we did was spend 12 hours a day inside the compounds basically just trying to cheer them up. We used to sit around and talk with them. I used to help them with English and sometimes play a game of cards. Sometimes we would hand out appointments lists and things like that. We just had constant, face-to-face interaction.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Yesterday, when we had the Salvation Army present to this committee, they were asked about the issue of training, and in evidence they said that they did not believe that somebody in the roles that you both were needed training. What is your response to that as people who have actually done it?

Mr Iacono : There were a number of men who had mental conditions and talked to us directly about that, about worrying about their families overseas, about everything, about what was going to happen to them. In Australia you have to have a degree to talk to people, to counsel, which was pretty much what we were doing on a daily basis in a camp with 1,000 men with massive problems like that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Ms Judge, this might sound a little unfair, but I want to ask you and, if you do not want to answer, you do not have to.

Miss Judge : No; that is fine.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: How did you feel as a 22- or 23-year-old woman sitting in the compound having to cheer up grown men?

Miss Judge : I think that is a good question. I know when I first started I felt way out of my depth. But, in saying that, people who are asking those questions sometimes think that maybe I felt unsafe. I did not, but I did feel in a way maybe my presence was somewhat humiliating to them, because, being a young woman trying to cheer a grown man up who may be in such a state of mental anguish, crying for his mother or something like that, and here I was, an untrained university student, telling him it was going to be okay. Actually I could not even tell him that. I was not supposed to say that. So I worried that my presence was somewhat humiliating to these men. I do not know if it was, but that was a worry that I had.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Did you have people tell you they would prefer to die?

Miss Judge : Every day.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What would you say when that happened?

Miss Judge : I spent lengthy amounts of time trying to convince people that their life was still worth living and that there would be a hope at the end of all this—that this will pass. That is something that I used to always say: 'This is not forever.' But in my head at times I did not believe what I was saying. I did not know how long these people would be here for or even why they were sent there in the first place. And I did not know what their future was, but here I was trying to convince them that their future was going to be bright, and in my head I am self-talking, thinking, 'Their future doesn't look very bright to me.'

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Were you told not to speak about your experience inside the compounds and what you did every day?

Miss Judge : Yes.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Who told you that?

Miss Judge : Salvation Army management, HR management.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: What did they say to you?

Miss Judge : When we first started, they would even suggest that our phones were being listened to and our emails were being monitored and we could not contact anyone and we should not even speak to our own mother or father about what we have seen.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Someone would say to you every day that they wanted to die, and you were not allowed to walk out of that centre at night and explain to your mother or your dad, 'God, Dad; this is what I dealt with today'?

Miss Judge : I was told that I could not do that and I would be penalised or I would lose my job, or even I have been threatened with criminal action to tell me that I could go to jail for speaking about my experiences.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: That is what your managers would say to you?

Miss Judge : Yes.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: And that was a constant reminder?

Miss Judge : Constant reminder, especially near the end of the contract, when they knew that the contract would be lost—absolutely constant reminder. Every meeting, they would warn us with this.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: In your submission, Ms Judge, you talk about a specific incident where you saw an asylum seeker beaten unconscious by a security guard.

Miss Judge : Yes.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: Can you explain to us what happened and what happened to you as a consequence of that?

Miss Judge : What happened was they were changing the room allocations, and this particular asylum seeker was sitting outside for probably hours, I would say—maybe four or more. It had begun to rain. He came inside. He did walk in in a hurry, because it was raining and his stuff was getting wet. I was standing at the door, and he walked over to where his bed was before and put his stuff on it—and, yes, it was fast. And, then, I don't really know how to explain but two G4S guards came from the other side of the room and pushed him against the wall, and then the other asylum seekers started yelling. He yelled, and then they started punching him and they twisted his back against the metal bed frame of the bunk. Then I was told to evacuate, and he was on the floor. I evacuated. I asked my team leader, the case management team leader—I was a bit shaken up—and I said, 'I've seen something that I just don't know how to explain.' I said, 'I'm worried about retaliation attacks. They might say something in return to me.' He was like, 'No. You have nothing to worry about. You have the support of the Salvation Army.' I submitted an incident report. I was then interviewed by PNG police after asking where my report went. I did not have any support from the Salvation Army. I went into the room alone, and they interviewed and questioned me—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: The PNG police did?

Ms Judge : Yes, and they suggested that I was lying. Before they suggested that, they made me read everyone's incident reports. All the incident reports were the same—saying that the guards had acted in self defence—and there was only mine saying that they beat the asylum seeker. I just did not know what to do at that time, because here I was going against two organisations, saying something that I knew had happened, with other incident reports from people at the same time saying something completely different. I did not know how to help that man.

Senator SINGH: Thank you, Ms Judge and Mr Iacono, for your submissions and for your honesty in providing a detailed account of your experiences with the committee. From what I have heard from both of you, you certainly had a very memorable and interesting start to your working career. It is something that I think will stay with you probably for the rest of your life. Firstly, Ms Judge, you say that you worked with the Salvation Army from the period of 17 September 2012 to 2 February 2014.

Ms Judge : Yes.

Senator SINGH: Was all of that time based outside of Australia?

Ms Judge : It was a rotation. We would rotate in and out—so four weeks on, three weeks on. They would change the rotations a little bit, so the actual amount of time spent on islands was a little bit different.

Senator SINGH: What was the work that you did in Australia?

Ms Judge : It was respite. The hours that we worked we accrued as time off.

Senator SINGH: That is quite a considerable amount of time—about 18 months—that you worked for the Salvation Army in detention centres.

Ms Judge : Yes.

Senator SINGH: I commend you for sticking at it, despite the difficulties. It shows incredible bravery and courage. What was your role?

Ms Judge : For me personally, it was as a general support worker. I also worked as a case manager for about seven months as well.

Senator SINGH: And yours, Mr Iacono?

Mr Iacono : I was just a support worker most of the time. I helped out with the recreation team and education team when required.

Senator SINGH: So being a support worker can be many and varied things?

Mr Iacono : It can be anything they ask you to do. I was helping with bed allocations and that side of the management as well.

Senator SINGH: When you say bed allocations, what was that?

Mr Iacono : That was liaising with the asylum seekers themselves. We were told, '50 people need to be in this room, and there are 40 here and 30 there. You have to go in there, choose seven people and make them move.' Things like that, which would just sound crazy.

Senator SINGH: How did you do that?

Mr Iacono : I protested to begin with and said that it was unrealistic to force seven people to move. I said to choose seven incoming ones and move them in if they are the same nationality, which would cut out the problems. That is eventually what did happen after big fights inside the centre when we were made to try to do that.

Senator SINGH: With the transferees in their beds, did they have any bedding?

Ms Judge : Sometimes.

Mr Iacono : Yes. They had a mattress, a sheet and a pillow.

Ms Judge : They sometimes went without.

Senator SINGH: Ms Judge, how many women were working at the Salvation Army?

Ms Judge : I would say there were more men than women definitely. I am not sure how many exactly, but I think we were the minority—especially young women.

Senator SINGH: When you said that you experienced sexual harassment, is that something you shared with other women? Did they experience that as well?

Ms Judge : Yes.

Senator SINGH: So that was quite a common thing for the women that worked in the Salvation Army?

Ms Judge : It was so common that it was kind of part of the work environment.

Senator SINGH: Was there anywhere you could take that sexual harassment complaint?

Miss Judge : I took it to my management at some of the peak times when I started to feel really overwhelmed and scared. One of the managers said to me, 'Well, what you expect? This kind of stuff happens at bars all the time.' So I just had to go with it. I still wanted to work there and it was something that I had to put up with. It is not something that I like to talk about—

Senator SINGH: Are you able to tell the committee the name of the manager who said that?

Miss Judge : Yes, but after the session. I do not name them publicly.

CHAIR: You would prefer to say that in camera, would you, confidentially?

Senator SINGH: Off the record.

Miss Judge : I just do not know how comfortable I feel with that, but I do have his name.

CHAIR: We can actually go into an in camera session if you want to do that before you leave.

Miss Judge : Sure.

Senator SINGH: You said in your opening statement that you were warned to be careful of locals. Who warned you to be careful of locals?

Miss Judge : Salvation Army management, and also certain members of G4S but they were not necessarily representative of the management, they were just employees. And other locals as well.

Senator SINGH: Other locals outside of the compound told you to be careful of other locals?

Miss Judge : Yes.

Senator SINGH: And were G4S staff PNG local G4S staff or expats?

Miss Judge : The ones we felt threatened by?

Senator SINGH: No, the ones that warned you of the locals.

Miss Judge : Just local people outside the centre. The threat I felt was from the G4S local staff, and the people who were warning me who were locals were just general local people in the community.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Who were also PNG nationals.

Miss Judge : Yes. Both expatriate and local G4S made inappropriate sexual advances et cetera towards me and both people warned me against them.

Senator SINGH: So when you are told by your management to be careful of locals, what did you interpret that to mean? How were you supposed to be careful? What were you supposed to do?

Miss Judge : I think we were supposed to make sure that we were carrying ourselves appropriately at all times, we were not speaking casually to them, we were on our guard essentially. I felt that we had to put on some kind of facade, just treat them as though they were dangerous and be wary of them.

Senator SINGH: Did the same management or any other people tell you or warn you to be careful of transferees?

Miss Judge : No. No, I do not think so. We were always aware of situation awareness inside the compounds and not to place ourselves in a dark corner or something like that. But the threat I always perceived to be was from local people. When I speak about the attempted invasion, asylum seekers would say, 'Don't worry, we will be caring for you.'

CHAIR: Can I interrupt. We have the press here taking photos now. If you are not comfortable with that you can indicate that. You are okay with that?

Miss Judge : That is fine.

Senator SINGH: I think you said that you were there for Minister Morrison's visit. Could you explain to the committee how that went?

Miss Judge : Terribly.

Senator SINGH: Firstly, what was the date of that: do you know?

Miss Judge : I could get the date for you.

Senator SINGH: That is all right.

Miss Judge : He just walked around the centre very indignant, if I do say so, and did not look at any of the asylum seekers, did not look at the staff, caused a protest—

Senator SINGH: How did he cause a protest?

Miss Judge : The asylum seekers knew their situation and Scott Morrison was here to tell them that they would never come to Australia, and the asylum seekers had a silent protest and made banners and what not and stood in front of him and he just walked out. Then when he walked down the road between Delta and Oscar compounds the asylum seekers started shouting out, 'Here comes the King.' They are smart, they knew what it was all about. I asked my manager at that time, Liz Cruickshank, if I should evacuate and she said, 'It is business as usual.' So I felt in the way that I was kind of standing with the asylum seekers as they protested against Scott Morrison. It was a bit weird because I wanted to join them.

Senator SINGH: Did he give a speech?

Ms Judge : He stood inside the tent in Oscar compound and said something along the lines of, 'You're never going to get to Australia; so good luck.'

Senator SINGH: He said, 'You're never going to get to Australia'?

Ms Judge : 'You have no hope of reaching Australian shores.'

Senator SINGH: Did he say anything about refugee status determinations?

Ms Judge : Not that I am aware of. He was just a bringer of bad news. It caused a bit of problems for the staff after that, because we had to answer so many questions from transferees that we just did not know how to answer.

CHAIR: I will ask you to finish there, as we now need to go in camera—that means in a private hearing—so we can actually hear that name.

Proceedings suspended from 12:30 to 14:05