National Gallery of Victoria drops Wilson Security

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide it with security services and SecureCorp has been appointed as its long-term security services provider.

Wilson Security has provided security services for the Australian government’s detention centres on Nauru since 2012 and Manus Island during 2014–17. It is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, as many inquiries and reports have shown.

Despite announcing its withdrawal from the offshore detention industry, Wilson Security is allegedly still providing security on Nauru through Queensland company Canstruct.

Last August, more than 1500 artists and members of the public signed a letter urging the gallery to cancel the contract with Wilson Security. Shortly afterwards, one of the NGV’s most famous paintings, Picasso’s Weeping Woman, was covered by a cloth featuring Wilson’s insignia.

In further actions, a cello performance of a song composed by journalist, filmmaker and Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani blocked the entrance to the NGV. Later, the gallery’s famous moat and waterwall was turned blood red, a reference to Wilson’s ongoing violence. And in December, artists Candice Breitz and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer brought international attention to the issue by renaming their artworks Wilson Must Go.

Kylie Wilkinson, spokesperson for the Artists’ Committee, an artist collective dedicated to ending the contract between the NGV and Wilson Security, said: “We are so pleased the NGV has done the right thing. They have refused to allow Wilson Security to profit while abusing refugees and people seeking asylum. We thank the gallery for showing ethical leadership on this issue and for relaying the concerns of its communities to the state government.

"We hope that these discussions have resonated in the state offices and will have an impact on other contracts that the Victorian government is involved in.

“More and more, institutions are realising that there can be no business in abuse. Unethical companies, like Wilson Security, that abuse people and the environment, will face strong community opposition and will no longer be able to operate.”

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