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Immigration detention in Australia

We treat all people in detention with respect, dignity and fairness. While in an immigration detention facility, we provide appropriate food, medical, recreational and other support services, including mental health services.

​​​​The Australian Government, service providers and independent agencies work together to manage immigration detention in Australia.

Our shared goal is to resolve the immigration status of each person as fairly and as fast as possible.

Department of Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs manages:

  • immigration and border policy
  • Australia's visa program
  • service provision in immigration detention

Our status resolution officers work to resolve the immigration status of each detainee.

We publish statistics on immigration detention and unauthorised​ maritime arrivals.

Australian Border Force

The Australian Border Force promotes visa and migration compliance and targets threats posed to the integrity of Australia's migration program.

We make decisions about immigration detention in accordance with the legislation. Under the Australian Border Force Act 2015 (Cth), Border Force Officers exercise their powers under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) and other Commonwealth legislation. This includes the power to detain unlawful non-citizens.

Our work in immigration detention facilities is guided by a suite of detention policies and procedures.

We are responsible for the management of good order, safety and security within immigration detention facilities, including the health and welfare of detainees.

Service providers

We contract the provision of specific services for detainees to various service providers.

Serco provides a range of services at Australia's immigration detention facilities including:

  • security
  • detainee welfare
  • detainee engagement

International Health and Medical Services provides health services to detainees. Detainees receive health care broadly comparable to those available in the Australian community including:

  • primary health care through nurse-led triaging
  • access to mental health care
  • referrals to specialist health care
  • antenatal care

All of our services providers must:

  • support and promote a stable and harmonious environment
  • seek to resolve situations and tensions peacefully
  • treat everyone with respect and courtesy
  • eliminate harassment
  • behave in a tolerant, respectful and culturally sensitive way

Oversight and assurance

There are laws, policies, rules and practices that govern how people are treated in immigration detention facilities. The length and conditions of immigration detention are subject to regular internal and external review.

We use internal assurance and external oversight processes to help care for and protect people in immigration detention and to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of all detainees.

Internal

Our internal assurance processes are provided by the Department of Home Affairs separate to, and independent from, operational areas of the Australian Border Force:

  • the Detention Assurance Team reviews allegations and incidents and practices in immigration detention and recommends strategies for improvement
  • the audit committee assesses how we make decisions about immigration detention
  • the Chief Medical Officer/Surgeon General gives expert medical strategy and clinical advice
  • the Independent Health Advice Panel monitors and advises on improvements to health services

External

We give independent agencies regular access to immigration detention facilities:

We make sure detainees can contact independent agencies if they want to.

Each immigration detention facility has a process to manage complaints and feedback.

Statutory reporting obligations

We have a statutory obligation to report to the Commonwealth Ombudsman about a person who has been in immigration detention for a cumulative period of 2 or more years—and then every 6 months. We must report on their:

  • circumstances
  • health
  • case progress

The Ombudsman assesses our report and may make recommendations about things such as:

  • health issues
  • progress of a visa application
  • transfer to a different facility or community placement

The Minister for Home Affairs tables the Ombudsman's assessment in Parliament.