The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on May 23.
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The private corporation that runs immigration detention centres, Serco, has recently insisted that Serco security guards watch over visitors and asylum seekers when members of the Darwin community visit the Darwin Airport Lodge.
About 50 children are detained in the Darwin Airport Lodge and the centre received national and international media attention when the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) provided to the media a letter from a 10-year-old girl who has spent more than a year in detention.
DASSAN spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom said: “This move is all about Serco and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (“DIAC”) preventing the Australian people from knowing about the reality of life for people in immigration detention.
“Serco has never insisted that security guards sit with visitors in the Darwin Airport Lodge and a member of the community should be able to visit a person in detention without being watched over by a security guard. Clearly, Serco does not want any more letters from asylum seekers coming out of detention and is using security guards to make sure this does not happen.”
The Australian Medical Association has likened the detention of children to child abuse and using security guards to stop those inside from passing messages to the Australian community does nothing to lessen the pain of immigration detention for those inside”