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Damning report into immigration detention problems gives govt clear path to follow

The report delivered today by the Joint Select Committee on the Immigration Detention Network contains critical recommendations that the government must urgently implement in full.

"The recommendations provide a blue print for a humane, practical and cost-effective response to asylum seekers," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"Prolonged and indefinite detention is at the heart of the crisis in our immigration detention network. The evidence gathered by the Committee and the findings presented in this report are a sobering read that require urgent action. Acting on these recommendations will not only protect already vulnerable men, women and children but would save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The report has found placing a time limit on detention of 90 days or less would relieve many of the serious mental health, overcrowding and isolation issues that persist throughout Australia's detention facilities.

"The detention of asylum seekers must be limited to conducting health, security and identity checks, with people being moved into the community within the mandated time limit days. The government must act on this recommendation and implement a time limit on detention in law.

"The report also calls for urgent improvements to mental health support for detainees and dramatically improved staff training. The report recommends that the government stop warehousing damaged and fragile people in remote and isolated locations. The Greens have advocated in our additional comments to the report that the government should decommission all remote and isolated facilities as a priority.

"The findings and recommendations in this damning report on the current detention system is an opportunity to atone for a decade of costly mistakes. But to do this, the recommendations must become law, as the need to enshrine these changes in amendments to the Migration Act and other legislation is greater than ever.

"Evidence to the committee was unequivocal about the serious damage detention causes children and their families. The Greens are extremely pleased to see the Committee recommended that the Immigration Minister be replaced as the legal guardian of unaccompanied children. This would break the conflict of interest of the Minister being both the person who locks children up and the person who is meant to look after their welfare and best interest. It is important that an independent advocate is appointed to act as the legal guardian of all unaccompanied children.

"The committee also determined that refugees who are given an adverse security assessment by ASIO must be able to have that assessment reviewed and that this mechanism be implemented through changes to the ASIO Act.

"Time limits on detention, scrapping isolated and out-of-sight out-of-mind facilities and allowing asylum seekers to live in the community would bring Australia back in line with our values of a fair go and save the government's budget bottom line. These are practical and humane measures that must be implemented in law.

"This report and the many public and private hearings were a challenging experience for everyone involved and we are grateful to all who have made submissions or appeared before the committee. I would like to thank Mr Daryl Melham MP as the Committee Chair for his professionalism and dedication throughout this inquiry. He has delivered a report that provides a path for the government to fix this human crisis and is equipped to achieve the necessary agreement around the political table.

The Greens urge the government to embrace the recommendations in this report in the best interest of ending the torture of bureaucracy and politics facing some of the world's most vulnerable people."

FINAL REPORT AVAILABLE HERE: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=immigration_detention_ctte/immigration_detention/report/index.htm

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