Asylum-seekers on Christmas Island receive payments
By Andrea Hayward
April 29, 2009 11:43pm
A FAMILY of four asylum-seekers living on Christmas Island in community detention receives up to $1000 a fortnight from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
DIAC spokesman Sandi Logan said 33 asylum-seekers who had undergone health and security checks were living in houses in the community while awaiting outcomes of their visa applications.
A further 40 asylum-seekers, mostly family groups, women, children and those with special needs, are in alternative detention while 193 single men are detained at the Christmas Island Detention Centre.
Women and children are not housed in the detention centre itself, and instead live in alternative detention called the construction camp near the Poon Saan neighbourhood on the island.
Mr Logan said adults in community detention were given $100 cash and $360 in store credit, which can be used at one of two local stores, a fortnight to buy food and other items.
A family of two adults and two children would receive $300 cash and $766 store credit each fortnight, which is administered by the Red Cross.
There were no figures available for the number of families on the island.
Those under the age of 18 who were deemed unaccompanied minors in community detention receive $50 a week and each household consisting of up to five minors, who are looked after by a carer, is given $900 a week for food and supplies.
Mr Logan said those on community detention had to cook and buy their own food.
“We can't put them out in community detention and let them starve,” he said.
Some chose to save their money and buy luxury items including sunglasses and MP3 players, and were entitled to do so, Mr Logan said.
Inside the detention centre, detainees have 20 internet terminals.
“There is also a telephone available in each of the (eight) compounds and they are issued with a phone card each week to make phone calls, it could be to their representatives, to friends or to others …,” Mr Logan said.
The calls are unrestricted and include international calls.
Mr Logan said the detainees are encouraged to participate in activities and are rewarded for attending English classes and helping out in the detention centre.
The reward system has been in place for some time in Australian detention centres, Mr Logan said.
Detainees are free to move around the inside of the detention centre, often playing cricket and soccer on the oval, but have a night-time curfew when they go back to their single rooms.
The centre was built by the Howard government at a cost of $400 million and is located on the remote corner of Christmas Island, an Australian territory 2,600km northwest of Perth.
More than 200 people including 38 DIAC staff are on the island to support the centre.
More than 130 asylum-seekers picked up in the interception of four boats since Saturday, including two today, will also be taken to Christmas Island. It is not known when they will arrive on the island.
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