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First Immigration Detention Transfers From Yongah Hill To Christmas Island

The Refugee Action Coalition understands that the first group of people being transferred from Yongah Hill immigration detention centre in Western Australia to detention on Christmas Island have been moved from the Yongah Hill detention centre, today, Friday, 14 August. They will arrive on Christmas Island this afternoon.

After initial moves last Tuesday were stalled by protests inside the centre, people slated for transfer were given superficial medical check-ups on Wednesday. The 'check-ups' however did not include a test for COVID-19 infection; the only checks were for temperature, weight, blood sugar and blood pressure.

The move to re-open Christmas Island has raised concerns of refugee advocates across Australia. The government is ignoring overwhelming medical opinion that people in immigration detention should be released, both for public health and mental health reasons.

Potentially the move is the beginning of a major reshuffle of people in immigration detention that can only magnify the risk of covid infection. Some people in immigration detention Melbourne have been told that they are liable to be moved from Melbourne to Christmas Island via Yongah Hill as part of the reshuffle

Alongside the health risks there is the on-going human rights abuse that immigration detention involves. Anyone in detention on Christmas Island will be even more isolated from family and legal support.

The tragic death of Daniel Harvey in Melbourne’s detention centre last Monday also highlights the increased dangers of remote detention.

"Daniel did not get proper medical care in a major city," said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, " There is no way that serious medical conditions can be managed on Christmas Island.

“The sensible and safe alternative is for the government to release people from immigration detention into the community. There are families and enough individual offers to provide safe community accommodation for all those in immigration detention."

In Brisbane, a protest is planned at the Kangaroo Point hotel, Raymond Park, (Wellington Rd, Kangaroo Point) Saturday 15 August 12 noon, to call for the release of all those being held in Kangaroo Point and across Australia.

A rally to “Close Christmas Island, Free Refugees from Kangaroo Point,” will be held Tuesday 18 August, 8.00am, Qld Parliament House, George Street to march to the Immigration Department, Adelaide St.

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