Too much risk, too much misinformation.No Covid testing in MITA after guards test positive

Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 7/09/2021 Too much risk, too much misinformation. No Covid testing in MITA after guards test positive.

Refugee advocates have accused Covid commander Jeroen Weimar, and the Australian Border Force of being less than forthcoming with the truth about Covid in MITA, Melbourne's immigration detention centre.

Commander Jeroen Weimar’s quoted public statements raise serious questions about the management of Covid risk in MITA. Commander Weimar was quoted on 5 September, saying, “We have had no positive test come out of that facility at the moment...” That is not surprising because there has been no Covid testing of people in the MITA immigration detention centre.

Photo via The Age

Even four days after immigration detainees were told about the guards testing positive, there has still been no testing of anyone in the MITA detention centre. The Commander was also quoted as saying that one guard had tested positive 12 days ago, but if that is true why were immigration detainees only told of the positive cases on Saturday 4 September? If it is true that guards tested positive 12 days ago, why did vaccination only start last Wednesday, 1 September? The Commander’s statements also do not fit with the fact that security staff, both MMS and Serco guards, are only now not turning up for shifts indicating that they are self-isolating or quarantining as a result of recent exposure to Covid, not 12 days ago.



“The contradictions and misinformation in the public statements is causing confusion and anxiety inside the detention centre,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The misinformation has further eroded any confidence that they are safe inside MITA. People are being told they should trust IHMS, but IHMS cannot be trusted with their medical care.”


There is zero possibility of social distancing inside MITA. Mask-wearing by guards in MITA is not enforced. There is no hand sanitiser inside MITA.


There have been problems with Covid management at other detention centres. On 8 August the Brisbane detention centre, BITA, was reported for failing to have any Covid check in facility. Despite the breach being confirmed, there was still no check in facility by 3 September. One diabetic in MITA was recently handed used needles for his insulin injection. “The federal government 's own literature recognises detention centres as being high Covid risk environments,” said Rintoul, “Many people in detention are particularly vulnerable because they have underlying medical conditions. One person in the BRP compound has one kidney and medical advice that he should not be in detention.” “The health of people in immigration detention is not a priority for this government. Their failure to answer basic questions and their off-hand attitude to the risk of Covid infection in MITA, and other detention centres shows they cannot be trusted as well as confirming their general neglect of those supposedly in their care. “Safety, as well as humanity, demands that they are released.” For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713