Federal Government must protect people seeking asylum in Park Hotel and other detention locations

ACOSS is calling for the immediate release of people seeking asylum who are detained in the Park Hotel facility in Carlton, Melbourne, into the community with support or medical care.  This follows reporting that half of 46 people in detention are now infected with COVID-19, and that there have been delays in both testing people for the virus, and providing them with suitable medical assistance if they test positive.

In hearings on Tuesday 26 October, the Federal Court has acknowledged the dangers of continuing to keep people at the Park Hotel.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said, “Advocates have been raising serious concerns about the treatment of people seeking asylum who are in detention well before this latest tragic outbreak.

“The fact that in just two weeks the virus has spread so badly within the Park Hotel facility demonstrates how atrocious the living conditions are for people who are detained there. Trapped in a building with no fresh air, poor ventilation and communal spaces, people seeking asylum are caged while COVID-19 spreads about them.”

ACOSS is concerned for the ongoing physical, mental and emotional health of people seeking asylum in detention and calls on the Federal Government to take immediate action to protect their lives.

CEO Cassandra Goldie said, “Our responsibility to protect everyone from the virus does not stop at the front doors of detention facilities. We must ensure all people seeking asylum have speedy and reliable access to the vaccination where they are”.

“Only 55 per cent of people seeking asylum are fully vaccinated. We must rapidly increase this vaccination rate, prevent any further outbreaks, and protect their lives. It is also imperative that Border Force provides regular updates about vaccination rates and COVID transmission amongst people seeking asylum so that we can all be assured that people are receiving all the support and medical assistance they need.”

ACOSS urges the Federal Government to do four things immediately:

  1. Release people seeking asylum in detention into the community with support including access to vaccination support and adequate medical care.
  2. Release all people seeking asylum at Park Hotel including people who have tested positive to COVID-19 into suitable, safe community accomodation with support and access to proper medical treatment, including access to hospital where necessary.
  3. Ensure all people seeking asylum in onshore detention have speedy and reliable access to the vaccination, supportive medical advice regarding the safety of vaccines, a commitment from the Government not to seek deportation following vaccination, and ongoing access to testing and medical support to prevent any further outbreaks at other facilities.
  4. Publish weekly data about the conditions for people seeking asylum in detention including vaccination rates, COVID cases and transmission, and greater transparency about access to medical treatment.