Detention Escapes An ‘Acceptable Risk’

Detention escapes an 'acceptable risk'

Sarah Smiles
The Age
September 4, 2008

SOME unauthorised arrivals will inevitably escape into the community under the Federal Government's new policy of community detention, a ministerial advisory body says.

But the Immigration Detention Advisory Group said there was unlikely to be an “avalanche” of escapees and they posed little threat to the community if they absconded.

Under the Government's changes only people who represent a risk to the community will be detained. Others will be released while their cases are assessed.

At a Senate inquiry into Australia's detention policies yesterday, West Australian Liberal Don Randall questioned how the Government would be able to prevent people escaping.

Advisory group chairman John Hodges said there was “no question” some would escape.

But given the low numbers of people in detention compared to previous years, he said the risk had been viewed as acceptable. “If there is an avalanche of people who don't come forward for removal when they are supposed to, there's probably going to have to be a rethink on that part of the policy.”

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has said the former detention system under which some detainees were held for many years did great damage to individuals involved. On Tuesday, a European man was finally deported from Australia after nine years in detention.