18 June 2012

Problems mount for Australian immigration authorities as report reveals escapes

While record numbers of boat continue to fuel political turmoil in Australia, a new report from the Sunday Herald Sun has revealed a new problem for Australian immigration authorities: escapes.

Australia visa

Australian immigration detention centres have been fraught with difficulties in recent months.

The report revealed that over 500 people have escaped from Australian immigration detention centres in the past decade, with almost a third of those still on the run from authorities.

The asylum seeking situation is currently a controversial topic in Australia, with more than double the number of asylum seekers arriving this month than budgeted for and politicians still locked in a stalemate over a possible solution to the growing problem.

The opposition supports much stricter measures to dissuade potential asylum seekers and has opposed seemingly 'soft' measures the government has introduced, particularly community detention and the bridging Australia visa.

The opposition has already criticised the report's findings as proof of the government's failings, with immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison claiming the immigration system is in turmoil.

"Increasing numbers of escapes are the result of a system under stress, created by the unprecedented failure of Labor on our borders," said Mr Morrison.

However, while the report's findings of 11 escapes from community detention are obvious ammunition for the opposition, the number is less than 1% of the total asylum seekers released into community detention in the past two years.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen defended his department's record, claiming escapes were 'rare' and that the private company which held the contract for the country's detention centres, Serco, had been heavily fined in the past for allowing detainees to escape.

A spokesperson for the Refugee Action Collective, Ian Rintoul, said conditions were poor in the centres and detainees desperate enough to attempt to climb electrified fences and risk their lives to escape.

"They have anti-climb fences with sheer cladding so they end up with cuts from the barbed wire and injuries if they have to jump from the fences. People do get electric shocks," said Mr Rintoul.

"They are fearful of being deported. The detention centres are hell holes."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application with the Australian High Commission

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