People who regularly visit refugees and asylum seekers detained in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows have reported that the rules for visiting have recently become much more restrictive.
Visitors must now give 24 hours notice. They must give the names of the specific detainees they wish to talk to, and are not allowed to talk to any others. This makes it hard for them to make contact with new arrivals in the detention centre. Requests to visit are often refused on the pretext that the visiting room will be full, whereas in fact the room is often half empty.
The restrictions at MITA are believed to be part of a national policy of restricting access to detainees.
Vanessa Dodd, a regular visitor to MITA, told Green Left Weekly that visits are very important for the mental health of detainees. "They help make refugees feel like human beings", she said.
The Refugee Action Collective has organised a vigil to protest against the restrictions. The vigil will be held at 6pm on May 20 outside MITA in Camp Road, Broadmeadows.