Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Immigration detention trial to begin in Woomera.

Download PDFDownload PDF


News Room

Immigration Detention Trial to Begin in Woomera MPS 060/2001

A trial of alternative detention arrangements for women and children will go ahead in the South Australian township of Woomera, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

The Minister said he had given approval for his Department to proceed with the trial after wide consultation with community leaders and residents in Woomera.

"I have met with the residents of Woomera on two occasions, most recently last Sunday, to respond to questions and concerns so the community is well informed about the proposal," the Minister said.

"While I recognise some members of the Woomera community have concerns, I believe we will address those concerns and that the community will be broadly supportive of the trial."

"I have now asked my Department to put the necessary administrative and operational arrangements in place so that we can proceed," Mr Ruddock said.

The Minister explained that the trial would involve a maximum of 25 volunteers and run for between three and six months, during which time it would be rigorously evaluated.

He stressed that the new arrangements did not mean trial participants would be out of immigration detention.

Mr Ruddock said volunteers wishing to participate in the trial would be required to meet certain criteria including:

accompanied women with children who have a family member remaining at the ❍

Woomera IRPC; those with applications for asylum before the Department, and ❍ those who are assessed as posing no character or management risks. ❍

"Only those volunteers who have undergone health assessments will be eligible to participate in the trial," the Minister said.

Families would be removed from the trial if any member of that family:

absconded, or attempted to abscond while participating in the trial; ❍ behaved in an inappropriate manner; ❍ had their application for asylum rejected. ❍

"Participants in the trial will be under 24-hour supervision by officers from Australasian Correctional Management and any movement outside the perimeter of the house and yard will be accompanied by an officer," the Minister said.

The Department would also endeavour to maximise the opportunities for trial participants to visit family members at the IRPC.

"I am very mindful of maintaining the family unit as much as possible during this trial," Mr Ruddock said.

The Minister said he anticipated that participants would have access to local school and medical facilities, however, this was subject to consultations with relevant government agencies.

"The Department of Defence has already identified suitable vacant housing in the township for use in the trial."

"The houses are all side-by-side and trial participants will be able to visit one another freely," Mr Ruddock said.

"The final preparations for the trial are expected to be completed in approximately four weeks, during which time my Department will hold extensive consultations with other government agencies."

The cost of the trial was expected to be in the order of $1.5 million and would be absorbed within DIMA's normal operating budget.

25 May 2001 Media Contact: Steve Ingram (02) 6277 7860

Media Release Index