Hawthorn, Victoria Australia (PressExposure) November 01, 2006 -- Management of health and psychological services in immigration detention has been transferred to the direct control of the Immigration Department, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone said today.
"The change is one of a series of improvements to the current detention services contract," the Minister said.
"The move is in response to recommendations made in the independent Detention Services Contract Review by Mick Roche, which was released in March. The Roche Review was recommended by the Palmer Report.
"Mr Roche's recommendations are shaping the current detention services tender process for new contractual arrangements to be put in place next year.
"Shifting management of health and psychological service to my department will help ensure the more effective management of individuals' mental health needs by allowing direct communication between the Department and those with responsibility for provision of day to day health care. This will help ensures that complex health issues can be dealt with in a timely manner.
"The Government has been committed to making appropriate changes within the detention centre environment ahead of the next contract and this move is the latest in a series of such changes, which have included:
* Removal of razor wire from Villawood and Maribyrnong Immigration detention facilities (there was no razor wire at Baxter).
* Improvements to food quality and food management arrangements within detention centres.
* Sporting facilities and new reception centre at Baxter.
* The new Residential Housing Centre in Sydney.
In amendments to the detention services contract with detention services provider Global Solutions Limited (GSL), a new performance monitoring system is also being introduced with a greater emphasis on quality improvement.
"These contract changes mean that the quality of service within all immigration detention facilities will now be more proactively managed by the department," the Minister said.
"Changes include ensuring appropriate staffing to ensure all food preparation can occur without detainee involvement.
"Detainees will still be able to volunteer their time in the kitchen under the Purchasing Allowance Scheme but there must always be enough staff to perform regular kitchen duties, regardless of whether detainees are involved," the Minister said.