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Migration Act 1958—Section 486O—Assessment of detention arrangements—Personal identifier 1002569-O3, 1002588-O3, 1002684-O2, 1002701-O2, 1002826-O2, 1002920-O1, 1002935-O2, 1002942-O1, 1003028-O1, 1003134-O—Government response to Ombudsman's reports


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RESPONSE TO OMBUDSMAN’S ASSESSMENT NO. 22 / 2020 MADE UNDER SECTION 486O OF THE MIGRATION ACT 1958

STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT - No. 22 / 2020

General Comments

I refer to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s assessment tabled in Parliament today. This assessment refers to thirteen people who have been in immigration detention for two or more years. This assessment contains recommendations relating to seven cases.

Response to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s assessment

1. Tabling statement for case: 1002569-O3.

I note the recommendation from the Ombudsman. In line with recent guidance from the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Department decided not to refer this case for Ministerial Intervention at this time.

2. Tabling statement for case: 1002588-O3.

I note the recommendation from the Ombudsman. This person was recently found not to meet the Minister’s section 195A guidelines for consideration of a bridging visa.

3. Tabling statement for case: 1002701-O2.

This person’s placement has been carefully reviewed in the context of the COVID-19 environment and taking into account the person’s family and support networks, behavioural concerns and health and welfare needs.

The Department has determined a transfer is not appropriate at this time. The Department will regularly review this person’s placement and carefully consider any further requests they make for a transfer closer to their family.

This person is able to communicate with family via emails, letters, phone calls and skype.

4. Tabling statement for case: 1002920-O1,

The Department recently initiated an assessment of this person against the Minister’s section 195A and section 197AB guidelines for consideration of a bridging visa and a community placement under a Residence Determination (RD). The Minister’s personal intervention powers are non-compellable, meaning that the relevant Minister is under no obligation to exercise or to consider exercising these powers. Cases are only referred to the Minister if they meet the Ministerial Intervention guidelines.

The Department does not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation to commission a contemporary independent risk assessment. The Department has an adequate risk assessment tool that is applied to all detention cases and is used to inform placement decisions, including Ministerial Intervention processes.

The Department is open to discussing this recommendation in more detail with the Ombudsman.

5. Tabling statement for 1003028-O1.

I note the recommendation from the Ombudsman.

The Department has decided not to initiate an assessment of this person against the Minister’s section 195A and section 197AB guidelines for consideration of a bridging visa and a community placement under an RD. In making this decision, the Department took into account this person’s significant criminal record and the absence of any International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) clinical recommendation for a community placement

The Department does not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation to commission a contemporary independent risk assessment. The Department has an adequate risk assessment tool that is applied to all detention cases and is used to inform placement decisions, including Ministerial Intervention processes.

The Department is open to discussing this recommendation in more detail with the Ombudsman.

6. Tabling statement for case: 1002935-O2,

The Department recently initiated an assessment of this person against the Minister’s section 195A and section 197AB guidelines for consideration of a bridging visa and a community placement under an RD.

The Minister’s personal intervention powers are non-compellable, meaning that the relevant Minister is under no obligation to exercise or to consider exercising these powers. Cases are only referred to the Minister if they meet the Ministerial Intervention guidelines.

IHMS have reviewed this person’s health and welfare and determined that under the under current Department of Health guidelines they are no longer considered high risk of COVID-19.

The Department does not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation to commission a contemporary independent risk assessment. The Department has an adequate risk assessment tool that is applied to all detention cases and is used to inform placement decisions, including Ministerial Intervention processes. The Department is open to discussing this recommendation in more detail with the Ombudsman.

7. Tabling statement for case: 1003134-O.

The Department recently initiated an assessment of this person against the Minister’s section 195A and section 197AB guidelines for consideration of a bridging visa and a community placement under an RD. The Minister’s personal intervention powers are non-compellable, meaning the relevant Minister is under no obligation to exercise or to consider exercising these powers. Cases are only referred to the Minister if they meet the Ministerial Intervention guidelines.

The Department has established a range of measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in immigration detention. These measures include minimising detainee visits and moves within Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs), enhanced cleaning of

accommodation and common areas and reducing touchpoints between staff and detainees.

Detainees at high risk in relation to COVID-19 have been offered placements in either single accommodation or cohorted with other high-risk detainees. All detainees are provided with information about social distancing, hygiene requirements and guidance on reporting any COVID-19 symptoms to International Health and Medical Services (IHMS). Temperature checking of all essential staff is in place at all detention facilities.

This person is currently placed in a single room to address their high-risk COVID-19 status.

The Department does not accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation to commission a contemporary independent risk assessment. The Department has an adequate risk assessment tool that is applied to all detention cases and is used to inform placement decisions, including Ministerial Intervention processes. The Department is open to discussing this recommendation in more detail with the Ombudsman.

8. Tabling statement for cases: 1002684-O2, 1002826-O2 and 1002942-O1.

I note that the Ombudsman has made no recommendations in relation to these cases.

THE HON ALAN TUDGE MP Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs

29 / 7 / 2020