Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What happens to them?

"What we've observed is people who seem to be in detention for periods of 12 to 15 months onwards, start to develop very significant mental health problems and certainly people who've been in detention 15, 18 plus months have very high rates of psychiatric morbidity." Despite a massive debate about Australia's asylum seeker policy, few people know what life is really like inside detention camps. According to refugee activists, the reason is simple - the Government does not want the broader population seeing the conditions inside and the impact the camps are having on the detainees. Now, reporter Sarah Ferguson has gathered together startling evidence exposing the truth about life inside; how medication prescribed to asylum seekers is being misused and how many cases of self harm are going unreported, giving the public a false impression of conditions behind the wire. In the wake of the Government's failure to engineer an offshore processing solution, and with detention centres close to capacity, the Government is now exploring alternatives, such as community detention. But that does not help the people who remain locked inside the camps. With a growing body of evidence that shows detention can cause long term psychological harm, what are the consequences of the current policy? Are people being damaged for life? If they are finally given refugee status, will they ever be able to participate fully in community life - being trained, winning jobs and raising families - or will they simply become a problem that future generations will have to deal with?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

where they are

Australian government immigration detention centres in Australia and offshore
nominal; [surge]
Adelaide Immigration Transit AccommodationOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and CitizenshipJanuary 201125Kilburn, South Australia
Baxter Immigration Reception and Processing CentreClosedMaximumAustralasian Correctional ManagementSeptember 2002August 2007660; [220]Port Augusta, South Australia
Brisbane Immigration Transit AccommodationOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship200758Brisbane, Queensland
Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing CentreOperationalMaximumSerco Australia Pty. Limited2008 (temp. 2001–2008)850 [688]Christmas Island
Cocos Island Contingency Reception CentreClosedMaximumAustralasian Correctional ManagementSeptember 2001March 2002West Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Curtin Immigration Reception and Processing CentreOperationalMaximumSerco Australia Pty. LimitedApril 2010 (reopened)1,500RAAF Curtin, Western Australia
Darwin Alternative Places of DetentionOperationalMediumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship585Darwin Airport, Northern Territory
Inverbrackie Alternative Places of DetentionOperationalMediumSerco Australia Pty. Limited18 December 2010400Woodside, South Australia
Leonora Alternative Place of DetentionOperationalMediumSerco Australia Pty. LimitedJune 2010210Leonora, Western Australia
Maribyrnong Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumGlobal Solutions Limited198375; [5]Maribyrnong, Victoria
Melbourne Immigration Transit AccommodationOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship144Broadmeadows, Victoria
Nauru Detention CentreClosedMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship200120081,200Nauru
Northern Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and CitizenshipAugust 2001382; [164]Coonawarra, Northern Territory
Perth Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship198155; [9]Perth Airport, Western Australia
Perth Immigration Residential HousingOperationalMediumSerco Australia Pty. Limited200716Redcliffe, Western Australia
Port Augusta Immigration Residential HousingOperationalMediumSerco Australia Pty. Limited2010 (reopened)64Port Augusta, South Australia
Port Hedland Immigration Reception and Processing CentreClosedMaximumAustralasian Correctional Management1991April 2003600Port Hedland, Western Australia
Scherger Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumSerco Australia Pty. LimitedOctober 2010596RAAF Scherger, Queensland
Sydney Immigration Residential HousingOperationalMediumSerco Australia Pty. Limited200648Villawood, New South Wales
Villawood Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship1981510; [190]Villawood, New South Wales
Wickham Point Immigration Detention CentreOperationalMaximumDepartment of Immigration and Citizenship8 December 20111,000Wickham Point, Northern Territory
Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing CentreClosedMaximumAustralasian Correctional ManagementNovember 1999April 20031,500Woomera, South Australia

Dentention center history

July 2001: Pennsylvania Child Care, a group of private developers, sends Luzerne County an unsolicited proposal to build a 48-bed juvenile detention facility in Township and lease it to the county for $37 million over 30 years. Commissioner Stephen A. Urban calls it a “sweetheart deal.” The principal investors are identified as Greg Zappala and Robert Powell.
Aug. 14, 2001: W-Cat Inc. is incorporated listing Powell and Jill A. Moran as 50-percent shareholders and an address of 123 Warren St., West Hazleton, site of the Powell law firm.
September 2001: PA Child Care proceeds with development plans, though county commissioners say they will continue to use the existing county-owned juvenile detention center on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre.
April 23, 2002: W-Cat Inc. purchases a 37-acre parcel behind St. Jude School in Wright Township for $407,000. The land is zoned conservation and is undeveloped and mostly wooded. W-Cat buys the land from the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop James C. Timlin trustee. Powell is listed as a contact person for W-Cat on the agreement of sale.

October 2002: County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Conahan announces that judges will stop sending youth to the Water Street center at the end of the year because the building is too rundown.
November 2002: State Department of Public Welfare representatives say the county’s Water Street center is “safe and satisfactory to house juveniles,” which raised questions about the court’s refusal to send youth there. Judge Mark Ciavarella criticizes the state’s plan to renew the facility’s license, saying the center has a multitude of problems.
December 2002: County majority commissioners approve the court’s budget request, which includes the removal of funding for workers who staffed the county’s North River Street center. The court returns the center’s license to the state, essentially closing the place.
February 2003: PA Child Care facility opens. Commissioners agree to allow county juvenile offenders to be lodged there, but only for up to two years while the county builds its own detention center. Commissioners agree to seek zoning approval to build a new detention center on county-owned land near Valley Crest Nursing Home in Plains Township.
March 2003: Urban and then-Commissioner Tom Makowski vote to design a new detention center using roughly $9 million borrowed for that purpose. They say building is the most prudent option because PA Child Care investors want to charge too much, and there are
no guarantees state and federal subsidies will continue.
PA Child Care is willing to sell its center to the county without furnishings for $12 million to $14 million, but county studies peg the value of the unfurnished structure at $7.39 million.
February 2004: Judge Peter Paul Olszewski denies the county’s request for a zoning variance to build a detention center on land adjacent to Valley Crest. Newly elected majority commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid put construction plans on hold. Urban unsuccessfully urges majority commissioners to look for another detention center building site.
May 2004: Acker Associates Inc., a Moscow, Pa.,-engineering firm, submits a proposal titled “The Sanctuary” to Wright Township Board of Supervisors on behalf of W-Cat. Moran is identified as president/secretary/treasurer of the corporation. W-Cat requests a zoning change from conservation to residential.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dinner and other things

DETENTION CENTER FOOD PROBLEMS *Detention Center Food Problems* Allegations of spoiled food and air conditioning problems, and no, we're not talking about Food 4 Thought. This story involving some detainees and security guards at the Willacy County detention center who are speaking out about life for two-thousand immigrants. We have obtained internal documentation from the Willacy detention center where not only detainees complain about the conditions inside, but also security guards have recorded in their logbooks dozens of undocumented immigrants that have found maggots in their food. The federal detention center located in Raymondville which houses two-thousand undocumented immigrants has received criticism for allegedly feeding detainees contaminated or rotten food. An action 4 News investigation reveals that in one instance, over 30 detainees reported that the quantity and quality of food are deplorable, an allegation confirmed by at least two security guards. One of those anonymous guards says: "the reason it gets contaminated it's because of the storage facility, they don't have the storage facility. They were trying to blame the companies that supposedly the food is coming in spoiled which is not true." Detainees say they don't have toiletries to keep their most basic sanitary needs, that they have problems communicating with the outside world, nevertheless finding an attorney or any kind of legal assistance. Anthony Matulewicz is an immigration attorney in south Texas and tells action 4 news he's seen what those immigrants go through. "things in Willacy was so bad that I actually saw first hand people eating with their hands" Sais Matulewicz. Security guards have also recorded that 50 detainees complained because they found maggots in their food, and refused to eat. The situation was so bad for an immigrant that he attempted to commit suicide. "He was being moved from one dorm to another because we were having a lot of problems with him. The detainee was depressed, he was hungry and he was not getting enough" said a Willacy detention center security guard. "so he was stealing from the other detainees on the commissary, you know Fritos, candy, whatever they get with their own money". Another detainee reported he lost $99-dollars when he was transferred from del Rio to Laredo,, he says his wife is eagerly awaiting to hear from his my new not so fondly found 'prison' life". Security guards say they can not believe what they see, they make reports and advice superiors but the situation is the same. Detainees are desperate and things may get out of hand. "My concern is that one of these officers one of these days is going to get hurt or one of these officers is going to hurt a detainee" emphasized the security guard. Inside the windowless, dome-shaped tents, they have bunk beds and communal showers. But immigration and customs enforcement officials tell Action 4 News, "we try to maintain the dignity and respect within each person, so the only way we can do that is have a set guideline to follow". But according to security guards two ladies fainted because of air conditioning problems last week, a problem frequently experience during the summer and winter time. Allegations range from giving rotten food to detainees, problems with air conditioning and heating, and immigrants attempting suicide due to what they call inhumane treatment Immigration and customs enforcement also tells Action 4 News they will look into each allegation and get back with us. Immigration officials insist those held at the facility are "detainees" and not prisoners.


    • In the early days of the United States, detention of juveniles was rare. Authorities preferred to allow parents to deal with the delinquent behavior of their children. But as the urbanization of America continued and the traditional ability of parents to monitor their offspring eroded, government became less tolerant of childhood misbehavior. Juveniles were often imprisoned with adult offenders, a practice that backfired, resulting in juvenile offenders becoming better schooled in criminal behavior through the tutelage of their incarcerated peers.


    • The largest urban area in the U.S., New York City, began incarcerating juveniles with adults after the opening of the New York State Penitentiary in 1797. But the need to move juveniles away from the adult penal system soon became apparent. "The New York Society for the Prevention of Pauperism began to lobby intensively for a separate juvenile justice institution modeled on the prison system. Their efforts led the New York State Assembly to approve construction of the House of Refuge for delinquent children in 1824," writes the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice.

    Time Frame

    • By the 1840s, 53 such houses for juvenile detention had been constructed around the country. But a deserved reputation for overcrowding, abuse, and unsanitary conditions haunted these houses, leading to the development of a new approach--training schools. Massachusetts opened the first state-sponsored training school for boys in 1847 and for girls in 1856, placing an emphasis on schooling and vocational training as deterrents to prolonged anti-social behavior. These schools became the model for the juvenile detention centers of today.

    Juvenile Court

    • Cook County, Illinois, established the first juvenile court system in 1899, an approach that all but two states adopted by 1925. "The doctrine parens patriae (the State as Parent) served as the foundation for the newly established right for the state to intervene and to provide protection for children whose parents did not provide adequate care or supervision," states the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Public perception over the past several decades of a lack of effectiveness within the juvenile system has led to the adoption of stricter detention terms for juveniles, increasing the prevalence of juvenile centers.

    Modern Trends

    • In an effort to save tax dollars, states are increasingly outsourcing the operation of juvenile detention centers to private contractors. Companies like the Sarasota-based Correctional Services Corporation operate both adult and juvenile detention centers nationwide. Additionally, both states and private contractors are employing juvenile detention options based around military-style "boot camps." These are often short-term alternatives to incarceration, designed to decrease the number of youths sentenced to more traditional juvenile detention centers.

helpers profiles

We will be introducing you to many of our volunteers and hearing what brought them to the centre and what motivates them to maintain theircommitment to the work of the centre.

Renee Pinshaw has been volunteering with One Health Organisation (OHO) at the ASC for the past four years.
April Pan has been assisting ASC during 2009 in fundraising and personnel capacities.
Lucienne Fontannaz-Howard has facilitated art workshops for asylum seekers and curated the successful 'A Place to Call Home' Art Exhibition in 2008 .
Ros Bradleyhas been a member of the ASC boardsince 2006. She is also a member of the quiz night fundraising commitee.
Professor Mark Harrisis a medical doctor who has been treating asylum seekers at our clinic since 2000 as part of the ASC health care program
Peter MacAdam has organised the Asylum Seekers Centre's annual Quiz Night fundraiser for the last six years
Riena Voss has designed and managed the production of the ASC calendarover the last three years

help out

The Asylum Seekers Centre of NSW (ASC) has a small team of salaried staff, supported by an extensive network of volunteers who contribute to our operations in a variety of ways.
We warmly thank our volunteers for their extraordinary efforts, which, over the last year, have included preparation of around 1 200 meals, delivery of around 300 English classes, and provision of around 430 on-site primary and holistic health treatments.
Congratulations - we honour your commitment and compassion.
We need volunteers to fill a variety of roles (download current volunteer Job Descriptions from front page):
If you are interested in any of the positions please fill-in and return:
If you have queries about volunteering please call (02) 9361 5606
or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it marked attention: Volunteer Program Coordinator.
Please note that our Volunteer Program Coordinator works two days per week.