We are seeing changed conditions in the MITA (Melbourne immigration Transit Accommodation) which are clearly designed to frighten and intimidate the people inside.
Directions have been given and are now being implemented.
Sudden early morning room searches with 10 officers crowded into the tiny rooms searching and looking for “contraband”.
People are constantly being patted down searched. This undermines any sense of dignity as a person.
At the MITA unlike other centres, people have had mobile phones- the canteen even sold phone cards.
The Labor government brought back the no mobile phone rule for Boat arrivals in 2008.
Air arrivals are allowed phones without a camera facility.
Even worse Morrison’s Code of Conduct is creeping in – any infringement of the rules will result in a black mark which will eliminate any chance of release.
Punishment in Melbourne is transfer to MIDC where there are only a few asylum seekers and most people are either from Prison system or the Compliance Squad vans pickups of people who have overstayed their visas and are found working. MIDC is small with no outdoor space other than tiny covered courts.
Any guard or officer can report a person and the thing is logged- no judge no jury- a persons reputation as “compliant” can be destroyed by anyone who feels bad tempered on the day or who decides he does not like a person. Detention provides the roughest of justice.
A ten year old said to me last week- I am so sad i think about running away. I said that it is not such a good idea. He replied- No I cant do it- it would be black mark for my family.
MITA as many of you know has been the most humanitarian of detention camps. We have had some of the most vulnerable long term people in the system with no deaths.
There have been near misses but people look out for each other and fast responses have saved lives. The MITA has a mix of men without families and family groups.
Since the new Government arrived only one family has left detention to CD ( community detention).
It seems that BV (Bridging visas) are dead in the water under this government.
Now that all new arrivals are held on Christmas Island and sent offshore to Nauru and Manus, the pressure to move people out of detention into the community is over.
Even with the example of the success of BV policy- this government prefers to pay exorbitant amounts to keep people locked up and miserable.
Have visitors to other camps noticed or been advised of changes?
Refugee Rights Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
12 Batman St West Melbourne 3003
ph 03 9326 6066 / MOB 0417517075
“AUSTRALIA. Built by boatpeople.”