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.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Important information for visitors to an immigration detention​ facility

Updated on 18 November​​ 2022

The Australian Border Force (ABF) is committed to the health and safety of all detainees, visitors and staff in immigration detention facilities and continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation in each jurisdiction. Check our website regularly as visit information can change at any time.

General Information

We recognise that visits from relatives, friends, community contacts and relevant professionals are important for the wellbeing of detainees.

To make the visiting process as simple and efficient possible we:

A person must apply to visit a detainee. Approval of a visitor application is subject to operational considerations.

Detainees must first consent to a visit, unless required by law to accept a visitor. If you wish to visit an immigration detention facility, you must undergo security screening and follow COVID-19 measures. If you do not wish to undergo screening, you cannot enter an immigration detention facility.

Conditions of Entry

All visitors must comply with the conditions of entry. This includes enhanced safety measures such as physical distancing and screening measures.

If you do not comply with the conditions of entry, including safety measures and instructions from staff, your visit may be refused or terminated. It may also negatively impact the approval of any application you make for future visits.

Health screening requirements

All visitors will be requested to undergo health screening as a condition of entry. The health screening process is designed to reduce the risk of illness, including COVID-19, entering our immigration detention facilities. This may include, for example, a health screening questionnaire, temperature triaging and/or COVID-19 surveillance testing.

Health screening measures are regularly reviewed and updated and can change at short notice pending COVID-19 community outbreaks, public health advice and applicable health orders.

If you do not pass the health screening process, or there is doubt about your health status, you will be refused entry to the immigration detention facility and you will need to reschedule your visit.

The health screening process takes approximately 15 minutes per person. This is subject to variation due to individual circumstances therefore we ask you to be patient.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Reducing the risk of COVID-19 in immigration detention facilities is a key priority of the ABF. We follow the advice of the Public Health Units and other health officials

Visitors to immigration detention facilities who are aged 12 years and older are required to be up-to-date with their COVID‑19 vaccinations. Some exceptions may apply.

To be considered up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination, a person must have completed all the doses recommended for their age and health status.

You will be required to provide evidence of your COVID-19 vaccination status upon arrival at the immigration detention facility. It must be verified by the contracted service provider as part of the health screening process. Acceptable evidence includes (but may not be limited to) an Australian digital (COVID-19) vaccination certificate or immunisation history statement.

Detainees in operational or medical quarantine, or in clinical isolation, cannot have in-person visits until their isolation or quarantine has finished.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available to all detainees. For information about COVID-19 vaccinations, refer to the Department of Health. You can also contact your health care provider. 

Visiting an immigration detention facility

Visitors to any immigration detention facility who are aged 12 years or more are required to be up-to-date with the COVID-19 vaccinations. We usually limit visits to one visitor per detainee per day. We may consider exceptions in limited circumstances. This may include, for example, where a detainee’s minor children want to visit with an accompanying adult.

The following safety measures are in place to keep detainees, staff and visitors safe:

  • limits to the number of visits available. This ensures we meet the minimum physical distancing requirements. We will manage visits for each detainee fairly​
  • visits will be indoors in a designated area
  • brief physical contact is permitted at the start and end of the visit. This may include a handshake, fist-bump or hug. You must maintain physical distancing at all other times
  • all visitors aged 12 years and over must wear a disposable surgical mask issued by the immigration detention facility. Personal masks are not permitted​​
  • we will clean the area after each visit
  • food and drinks cannot be brought into the immigration detention facility by visitors
  • visitors must not share any food or drinks brought into the area by detainees
  • visitors must perform hand hygiene before and after a visit. We will provide hand sanitiser
  • visitors must pre-book all visits.

For visiting hours, contact the relevant immigration detention facility.

Other ways to contact detainees

In addition to in-person visits, we encourage community members to communicate with detainees through: 

  • phone calls
  • Skype or 
  • other audio-visual tools. 

Detainees have access to landline telephones. They can make calls to Australian phone numbers free of charge. Detainees also have unrestricted access to personal mobile phones. They can obtain phone cards using Individual Allowance Program points.