Blockade to prevent Wilson Security running Australian refugee detention centres

Police shove blockade from Wilson Group carpark entry and exit in Ann Street, Brisbane. Photo: Daniela Sunde-Brown, Brisbane Times

About 30 people blocked entry and exit of a Wilson’s group car-park in Ann Street, Brisbane this morning (Friday, 6 November 2015). The blockade lasted for around 45 mins before getting forcibly pushed out of the space by a police line. Police aggressive action produced a scuffle but there were no arrests or injuries reported.

The group then picketed for another 45 mins or so.

Media arrived just as the group were leaving and did some interviews about the contracts that the Wilson group has on Nauru and Manus in Australian refugee detention centers.

Wilson Security Profits off Mandatory Detention
Wilson Parking and Wilson Security are part of the multinational Wilson Group. Wilson Security is sub-contracted by Transfield Services to provide security services in Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Wilson Security is strongly implicated in a long line of accusations of abuse, neglect and torture of asylum seekers.

These include:

  • Failing to maintain a safe environment for asylum seekers, with 67 allegations of child abuse (30 against staff), 33 allegations of sexual assault/rape and the disciplining or dismissal of 11 Wilson Security staff members in response to sexual abuse or the use of excessive force.
  • Allegations of at least one staff member using goods and services to barter for sexual favours.
  • Torture of asylum seekers by Wilson Security guards.
  • Corrupt management.
  • Excessive use of force and inadequate training provided to staff considering the degree of force they are legally allowed to use.
  • Links to use of a tax haven and allegations of hundreds of staff being underpaid, with United Voice currently pursuing $669, 255 owed to 205 detention centre staff.
  • Reports of guards being removed from the island without investigation following rape allegations against them.
  • Neglect of sexual assault victims, including members of Wilson staff.
  • Spying on Australian senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and providing misleading evidence to parliament regarding this case.
  • Shredding reports which may reveal unethical behaviours and practices of the company.
  • With-holding information about whistleblower hotlines from staff.
  • Ignoring disorderly behaviour of guards, including intoxication at work.
  • Providing inadequate training and support services for staff dealing with extremely difficult circumstances.


Below is another report from the Brisbane Times reporter, Tony Moore.


Brisbane protest questions Wilson role in Manus, Nauru detention centre security

The giant Wilson Group was targeted by protesters in Brisbane on Friday for its part in controversial practices at refugee processing camps off the Australian coast.

The protest, run by Socialist Alternative and the Refugee Action Collective, is part of a nationwide campaign to raise the profile of Wilson Security at the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, east of Papua New Guinea.

Wilson which runs security, parking and transport services, was contracted to guard the detainees at Nauru.

Photo: Refugee protests in Ann Street

About 40 protesters in Brisbane jeered motorists as they used the Wilson car park in Ann Street, next to King George Square.  Wilson’s Parking is also part of the giant Wilson Group of companies.

At one stage police pushed protesters away from the entrance to the car park.

In June this year a former Wilson Security guard at Nauru gave evidence to a Senate committee investigating the Nauru processing centre of “a culture of cover-ups” at the processing centre.

At that inquiry evidence was also given of Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young being spied upon by Wilson Security when she visited the centre.

Wilson Security confirmed allegations of spying on the senator, but rejected allegations its employees abused asylum seekers.

Protest organiser Kat Henderson said activists picketed Wilson Security to highlight its role on Manus Island and at the Nauru Detention Centre.

Ms Henderson said Wilson Security – contracted to provide security by the company Transfield – deserved ongoing scrutiny of its role at both Manus Island and Nauru regional processing centres.

“They make profit out of misery in detention centres and they are not being held accountable,” Ms Henderson said.

Ms Henderson accused Transfield of avoiding security of their actions at both Nauru and Manus Island.

She said the public should question how and why Wilson should be legible [should read eligible, sic} for lucrative government contracts after confirming a staff member did spy on Senator Hanson-Young.

She questioned their experience in running a regional processing for asylum seeking.

“What experience do they have in this area?

“Their documented experience in providing security on processing centres is one of a ‘culture of corruption and cover-ups’, according to the staff who have actually worked for them.”

Transfield – who contract Wilson Security – recently had their contract renewed to provide security at Nauru, despite the controversy.

A former guard has alleged Senator Hanson-Young was given the codename “Raven” and covertly followed and her hotel watched when visiting the detention centre.

Wilson Security on June 4 rejected the claim a team was organised to spy on Senator Hanson-Young during the December 2013 visit, but admitted “individuals” had been disciplined for “acting beyond their brief”.

The security company had said the primary motivation was security for the senator but the activity was “not authorised”.

Tony Moore

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said the Refugee Action Collective were among the organisers of this morning’s protest.

3 thoughts on “Blockade to prevent Wilson Security running Australian refugee detention centres

  1. Free the Refugees - Benefit Concert and Dinner says:

    Free the Refugees – Benefit Concert and Dinner.
    The Refugee Action Collective end of year Benefit Concert. Join us to mark a year of struggle and help us continue the fight for Refugee rights.
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  2. City of Sydney divests from Transfield's abusive refugee detention says:

    Ten days ago, GetUp members all over the country started campaigns calling on their local councils to pull their support from companies that profit from abusive detention.
    And now, Sydneysiders have had a major win!
    The corporation that runs our brutal offshore detention camps, Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services), rakes in millions of dollars by providing services to local councils. But thanks to pressure from GetUp members, the business case for running our dangerous and harmful offshore detention camps is looking flimsier by the day.
    Imagine if councils all over the country followed in the City of Sydney’s footsteps. Together, we could pull the rug out from underneath the entire foundation on which the government’s brutal offshore detention regime is built, and open the door to change.

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