Rally says Serco unfit to run detention centres

Refugee rights protest, Brisbane, July 29. Photo: Jim McIlroy.
Friday, July 29, 2011

A protest for refugee rights outside the offices of security company Serco, in Coronation Drive, on July 29 called for the end of mandatory detention of asylum seekers and criticised Serco’s management of Australia’s detention centres.

More than 40 people attended the protest, which was organised by the Brisbane Refugee Action Collective (RAC).

A RAC leaflet said: “Serco is the company that profits [from] the incarceration of asylum seekers, by running Australia's network of inhumane prisons known as detention centres. Last month, it was predicted that Serco's contract with the federal government would exceed $1 billion within the next three years.”

Former Senator Andrew Bartlett told the rally: “Detention centres should be government-run, not for private profit. But really there should be no detention centres at all.

“Serco is not fit to be running refugee detention centres. Its contract should be cancelled immediately.

“Serco operates detention centres just like jails. Until we win the fight to abolish the centres altogether, and treat asylum seekers with proper humanity, the least we can do is remove Serco from control of the system," Bartlett said.

Social worker Judy Kerry, who works with asylum seekers, said: “The mental health issues of refugees are real. Self-harm and attempted suicide are genuine cries for help.

“Don’t add to asylum seekers’ traumas by locking them up indefinitely. On the contrary, we should be assisting them to establish new dreams for their lives," she said.

Frederika Steen, a long-time campaigner for refugee rights, told the crowd: “Six people have died while in the care of the Australian government and its paid jailer Serco. The real crime in this situation is that mandatory detention for asylum seekers is still the law in this country."