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Aust.: Vanstone Announces Progress on Immigration

Vanstone Announces Palmer Progress

More rigorous compliance training, a new detention services contract tender process and effective IT systems are among sweeping changes being made by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Amanda Vanstone, today provided an update on a program of continuous and substantive reform within the department in response to the Palmer report.

‘I have implemented a comprehensive change program in my department to achieve cultural reform and prevent a repeat of the problems that led to the Palmer and Comrie Reports,’ Senator Vanstone said.

‘These far-reaching improvements are based around the three themes of making my department more open and accountable, ensuring fair and reasonable dealings with clients and providing the organisation with well-trained and supported staff.

‘DIMA people need IT systems that are easy to use and that support their work, with a number of IT reports completed in response to Palmer Report recommendations.

‘Significant and innovative training programs are also being introduced to ensure staff are well-trained and supported and are particularly aware of the need to have fair and reasonable dealings with clients.

‘More than 350 DIMA staff have already been trained in areas such as compliance, identity verification and search warrants.

‘The training initiatives include a College of Immigration, Border Security and Compliance that will start in a few months as well as a national training branch to coordinate training throughout the department.

‘Last year, we set the target of improving the structure and governance of the department. These changes have been fully implemented, with the new structure establishing clear lines of responsibility and accountability.

‘An independent review of the current detention services contract found that changes were required. My department is now preparing to go out to tender on its detention services contract. There will be a separate contract to deliver health and psychological services to give a greater focus on clients’ needs in these areas.

‘Mental health care of clients is being significantly enhanced by the national rollout of an integrated mental health care program, which is already running at Baxter Immigration Detention Facility.’

The plan includes numerous construction projects, improved food services and greatly enhanced mental health services.

Major improvements are being made to individual case management, including better case management for clients with exceptional circumstances and an enhanced ability to rapidly locate client details and identify client visa status.

‘There has been tremendous reform and enhancement in the area of identity, which includes the establishment of the National Identity Verification and Advice (NIVA) in May 2005,’ Senator Vanstone said.

‘As well a number of developments are underway in the area of facial recognition software and biometrics to ensure new technology plays its part.

‘I am proud of the great change we have so far managed to achieve so far.

‘DIMA will be a department where decisions are fair and reasonable, staff are well-trained and supported, where policy is open and with clear lines of accountability throughout the department, to Government and to the broader community.’

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