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Government Faces Criminal Charges Over Villawood Suicide

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE 26 April 2021

Refugee supporters will hold a protest outside the Downing Street Centre (Sydney), tomorrow, 9.00am Tuesday 27 April.

Inside the court, at 9.30 there will be a “mention hearing” of charges against the Australian government and detention medical services provider over the suicide death of an Iraqi man in Villawood in 2019.

Documents detailing the charges can be viewed below:

Download PDF • 77KB

Download PDF • 78KB

The charges – the first ever regarding a detainee death - are being laid against the government by the government’s own Work Health and Safety watchdog, Comcare, following an investigation into the health care relating to the Iraqi man’s death.

The charges allege that Home Affairs and IMHS failed ‘to comply with [its] health/safety duty and that exposes (sic) an individual to a risk of injury or death/serious injury’.

The case has the potential to expose the details of abuse and medical neglect that damages mental health and pushes detainees to take their own lives.

The charges against the Commonwealth regarding detention come years too late. In just the few months before the WHS Act was introduced (1 January 2012), there were five suicides in Australia's detention regime.

And the investigation came too late to prevent the most recent suicide in Villawood in December 2020.

“Detention centres, and IHMS in particular, are notorious for the lack of care available inside Australia’s detention regime – onshore and offshore,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Villawood Detention Centre Photo AFP

“The prosecution of the government and IHMS is very welcome. Neither Ministers of Immigration, the government nor IHMS has ever been held accountable to the courts for their mistreatment of detainees.

“We are looking forward to the details of the negligence alleged by Comcare being publicly exposed in court. For too long the abuses in detention have been hidden behind a wall of secrecy.

"But the key to saving lives and preventing the mental health distress is to abolish ‘the factories for mental illness’ and end the detention business altogether."

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713


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