UPDATE 29 OCTOBER: Statement on positive COVID-19 cases at Melbourne Alternative Place of Detention

Border Operations 29/11/2021

The following information will be updated as developments dictate. 

  • The Australian Border Force (ABF) can confirm that 21 detainees at a Melbourne Alternative Place of Detention (APOD) have tested positive for COVID-19 as at 8:00 am, 29 October 2021.
  • All detainees at the facility are being tested for COVID-19 in accordance with Victorian Public Health Unit (PHU) requirements. 
  • The detention health service provider has multiple nursing staff on-site and a general practitioner has attended the site and is available via telehealth at all times.    
  • Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABF and its contracted service providers have engaged actively with Victorian state agency partners. This engagement has included preventative activities to mitigate COVID-19 risk, and an outbreak management response to the positive COVID-19 cases at the Melbourne APOD. These activities have focussed on implementing health advice and providing assurance to Victorian authorities that outbreak management strategies in the immigration detention network are consistent with other quarantine or confined facilities in the state.
  • Detainees who are unwell or show symptoms that include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, headaches and/or shortness of breath are closely monitored by the detention health service provider staff and are tested, quarantined and provided appropriate medical care.
  • Any detainees with other medical conditions not related to COVID-19 are being monitored and medically managed by the detention health service provider as required.
  • No ambulance has been denied access to the Melbourne APOD.
  • As is the case in the community, not all COVID-19 positive patients will require hospital admission. Based on the advice of medical professionals, those requiring additional monitoring or interventions are taken to hospital, and are returned once discharged by the hospital.
    • 20 detainees are being treated in their accommodation.
    • One detainee is being treated at hospital.
  • In accordance with health and Victorian PHU advice, all detainees within the facility have been advised to quarantine in their accommodation rooms to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Each detainee is accommodated in their own room with ensuite facilities.
  • The offer of vaccinations for consenting detainees has been available since early August 2021, with all detainees who initially consented having received at least one or both vaccinations.  
  • Detainees continue to have access to information in a range of languages about the vaccine in order to make an informed choice. 
  • The ABF and contracted service providers continue to educate detainees and offer COVID-19 vaccinations to any detainee wishing to participate.
  • Detainees are free to make personal decisions regarding their vaccination status. This means that detainees can take the time they need, or change their mind, as they consider their options.
  • Vaccinations are delivered in accordance with state and federal government health requirements.
  • Decisions around the containment of COVID-19, including limitations on movement to reduce the spread, are guided by state government health advice and directions.
  • Staff and contractors entering the APOD adhere to strict requirements governing physical distancing and use of Personal Protective Equipment.
  • To date, within the Immigration Detention Network (IDN):
    • 64 per cent of total detainees have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination; and 
    • 56 per cent of total detainees are fully vaccinated. 

*Percentages will alter due to changes in the IDN population caused by detainee inflows and outflows.  

  • The ABF and its service providers are working closely with Victorian health authorities to manage contact tracing, quarantining, testing and cleaning.  

General Statement on COVID-19 in the Immigration Detention Network (IDN):

  • All detainees in immigration detention facilities have been offered COVID-19 vaccination. The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program to consenting detainees commenced in early August 2021 and has taken place at all immigration detention facilities (IDF) across the Immigration Detention Network.
  • Standard departmental protocols are being followed in relation to a positive diagnosis including contact tracing, quarantining, testing and cleaning, in conjunction with the Victorian PHU.
  • The ABF and its service providers have implemented infection control measures and Outbreak Management Plans at all IDFs.
  • These measures are informed by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia's National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Correctional and Detention Facilities in Australia, public Health advice and applicable Health orders.
  • All detainees continue to have ongoing access to the medical professionals located within facilities.
  • The health care and range of services provided to detainees in immigration detention is commensurate with health care available to the Australian community through the public health system.