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Alarm at Baxter Detention Centre Isolation, Aust.

The continued use of the Baxter Detention Centre Isolation Compound is alarming say the Greens

The Victorian Greens say the continued use of the infamous “Red One” isolation compound at the Baxter Detention Centre points to a heavy handed management approach and a failed culture of incarceration at
Australian immigration detention centres.

“Two people have been locked up in Red One in the last week,” said Peter Job, the Victorian Greens Refugees spokesperson. “Both incarcerations resulted from incidents that probably would not have escalated if they had been handled properly."

“One was a Chinese asylum seeker who has been suffering from severe stomach problems for almost a year and who claims his requests for proper treatment have not been listened to. Last week, he was vomiting blood, but says his request to see a doctor was ignored. Finally, in frustration, he broke a window," said Mr Job.

“The other was a long term detainee from the Middle East, who along with other detainees, was refused permission to see visitors from Melbourne. No reason was given for the refusal at the time, so he reacted by smearing tomato sauce on the kitchen walls," said Peter Job. "Neither of these incidents should have escalated in the way they did; both point to a heavy handed management culture that belittles and ignores detainees’ opinions and requests."

“The issue of medical treatment is a particular cause for concern, and other detainees have given similar accounts of frustration when seeking proper treatment,” said Mr Job, who stressed that the blame for such failures should be attributed to a heavy handed and intransigent management culture rather than individual guards.

“Individual guards have told me privately that a confrontational approach is being actively encouraged by the present Baxter management. This is because no training in 'de-escalation strategies' is given to guards, while a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude by management leads to increased frustration among detainees and the unnecessary escalation of incidents.”

Mr Job said there was a pattern of management over-reaction in detention centres throughout Australia.

“Just last week, the Federal Ombudsman revealed that the Immigration Department had to pay compensation to a detainee who had his arm broken in Villawood. Late last year, a detainee in Baxter had his leg broken by guards. Detainees tell me of many smaller incidents that happen regularly," said Mr Job. "There has been incident after incident over the years, and the fact that the Howard government continues to ignore this pattern so long after the Palmer Report findings is an indication of its contempt for asylum seekers and its disdain for the very concept of human rights.”

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