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Volunteer Activities in Detention Centres Continue

System Allowing Volunteer Activities in Detention Centres Should Continue

VPS 109/2005

Minister for Immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone, has questioned media and union attacks on the current practice of allowing immigration detainees to engage voluntarily in useful and meaningful activity.

‘Allowing people to do something productive is a necessary response to the common human need to remain active – it’s a good thing,’ Senator Vanstone said.

‘It would be a great shame if these ill-conceived attacks put this system at risk.’

Senator Vanstone said removing the capacity for people to voluntarily contribute to their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of other detainees ‘can only do harm’.

‘The present system allows people to make a real contribution and receive some token reward for that contribution. It provides both an important outlet for willing participants and gives some recognition to those who choose to get involved.’

Senator Vanstone said people attacking the right of detainees to contribute should put themselves in the place of those detainees who take pleasure in their capacity to do something worthwhile.

‘This voluntary activity is not a substitute for paid employment. All basic services are expected to be maintained without the help of voluntary participants. The scheme has been put in place for the benefit of detainees not the contractors. My understanding is that it is quite popular.’

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