Another Serco Worker in Melbourne Detention Centre is COVID Positive

Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 02/10/2021 People detained across all compounds of Melbourne’s Broadmeadows detention centre, MITA, were informed yesterday (Friday 1 October) that a Serco employee had tested positive for Covid. But in defiance of normal protocols, there was no information about how long the person had been working while infectious, where they had worked, nor was anyone informed whether they were (or could be) a close contact. The lack of information has angered MITA detainees who are a particularly vulnerable group of people. “We have just been left in the dark,” one detainee who did not want to be named, told the Refugee Action Coalition. “We asked which compounds have been exposed but Border Force would not tell us. They are just trying to cover things up.” Previously exposed detainees have not been able to get Covid test, but this time, Border Force officials told detainees that they could get a test, 'if they wanted.’ The availability of tests for detainees adds weight to the understanding that the Serco employee is a cleaner who had worked across all compounds inside the detention centre. It is understood that refugees being detained in the Park Hotel in Melbourne were given a Covid test on Friday 1 October, but it is not known if this was because the Serco worker at MITA had also been to the Park Hotel. The MITA exposure comes on top of another recent protocol failure at MITA. One detainee who became a Tier 1 contact at Northern hospital on 16 September and was required, as per protocols, to be isolated for 14 days despite testing negative after his exposure. However, at least one Serco guard who escorted the detainee at Northern hospital, and was similarly exposed, was not required to isolate. The officer continued to work in various MITA compounds, in defiance of the Covid protocols, potentially exposing dozens of detainees in a high-risk environment. There was a similar instance at Villawood in NSW where detainees who are taken out of the detention centre for medical appointments are routinely isolated for two weeks on their return. Yet on 23 September, after being taken to Liverpool hospital, one detainee was placed in isolation on his return but the escorting Serco officers were not isolated. “Serco and Border Force are making up the rules as they go along, and it is always to the detriment of the detainees. Playing fast and loose with Covid protocols is a high-risk game that is putting the health of potentially hundreds of vulnerable people in jeopardy. Border Force’s lack of transparency is a risk to detainees and to the general community,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “The best way to keep detainees safe is to let them out. They are sitting ducks in detention." For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713