We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home News Moss review: lawyers say Comcare should have intervened
Text size :
DEPARTMENTSComcare, Department of Immigration and Border Protection
TAGS Comcare, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Max Costello, Greg Barns
The Commonwealth might be liable under both civil and criminal law for consistently dangerous conditions in offshore detention centres, and lawyers say it is breaking its own workplace safety laws. The watchdog, Comcare, says it’s not that simple.
The Moss review into allegations of violence, sexual assault, exploitation and intimidation made by asylum seekers detained in Nauru has given the Department of Immigration and Border Protection 19 changes to implement. It’s also led to renewed calls for the Commonwealth workplace regulator to act on health and safety in detention centres.
Max Costello, a former prosecutor with the Victorian WorkCover Authority, believes immigration detention facilities are clearly unsafe and that federal workplace regulator Comcare has apparently been “asleep at the wheel” in relation to monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in them. He argued as much in a joint submission to the Moss inquiry and in an article anticipating its release, which was shared online by human rights lawyer Julian Burnside with the approving caveat:
“I do not normally post other people’s writing on my blog. But this is important…”
Regular incidents of harm coming to asylum seekers in detention centres continue to fuel concerns in the legal fraternity about the Commonwealth breaching international law, or being liable for compensation in future civil claims. But Costello thinks it’s highly likely that criminal breaches are also taking place, in the form of systemic non-compliance with the WHS Act. He points out that detention centres are Commonwealth workplaces like any other under the act, and says the Commonwealth has the “primary duty of care” to ensure compliance with the act as the overall operator of the sites.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
Read Related Content
Most watchers of government might have suspected that restructures and redundancies were used to quietly get rid of the worst performers. Some have seen it first hand. Now, it's official.