There is a great deal of misinformation about the various forms of detention and the treatment of children. IDCs, APODs, IRHs and ITAs - what does it all mean? Let's be very clear, ChilOut is opposed to all these forms of detention. The Minister and DIAC often state that children are not detained. This is a matter of semantics, these terms involve a new sign, an extra shadecloth and the same abuse and denial of rights as any detention centre. Here's how we see it;
Community Detention or residence determination. The Howard Government established this to release children and their families from detention facilities into the community - NOT into renamed places of detention the way the ALP government has been doing since 2007. Community detention is the only form of detention in Australia where there is some freedom of movement. There are requirement about living at a specified location, reporting to the Department of Immigration and in some cases to always be in the company of a designated person. More info. This is the only form of detention for children that ChilOut finds acceptable and in keeping with Australia's international obligations.
Alternative Place of Detention (APOD) in the community This form of detention is the most insidious example of misinformation in the detention regime. There is nothing "community" about this detention. People remain locked in secure facilities, kept under guard and have no freedom of movement whatsoever. Many people kept in these situations are unaccompanied minors, children with no adult relative. Children aged 5-15 years are meant to attend local schools, but we hear reports that not all do. There is no pre-school or equivalent for children under 5. Many of the facilities used as APODs have been acquired by the Department of Immigration in relatively short spaces of time and are not equipped to meet the needs of children. Some are previous defence bases, some are private hotels. Recreation facilities, shade, stimulation are all lacking. Presently APODs are located in Leonora WA , Inverbrackie SA, the Darwin Airport Lodge and the Construction Camp on Christmas Island. DIAC statistics do not include a breakdown of numbers in each APOD, only a figure for Christmas Island and another figure for 'mainland'.
Immigration residential housing IRH facilities are less secure forms of detention centres. They are more flexible and supportive housing arrangements in "family-style accommodation". In Sydney, it is a group of houses with central, shared recreation and outdoor facilties. People are able to cook their own food and control many aspects of their household. In addition to onsite recreational and social activities, people are also able to go shopping and participate in community events (only occasionally and only with a specified escort). People in this arrangement remain under the control of designated officers. While still a mini-detention centre, they are certainly an improvement on IDCs. Currently these facilities are in Sydney , Perth and Port Augusta.
Immigration transit accommodation This term refers to hostel-style accommodation for people whose immigration pathway is likely to be resolved quickly. ITAs were intended only to be used for very short-term accomodation for those on 'immigration resolution pathways' however some people have been detained in the MITA for nearly three years. There is the Brisbane BITA and the Melbourne MITA. The latter has just had an extra wing built specifically for families and unaccompanied children.
Immigration detention centres IDCs These centres accommodate a range of unlawful non-citizens, mainly those who have overstayed their visa, breached visa conditions or have been refused entry at Australia's international airports. Among immigration detention centres in Australia are Villawood (Sydney), Northern (Darwin), Maribyrnong(Melbourne), Perth, Christmas Island , Curtin (North-Western Australia) and Scherger (Weipa, Far North Queensland).There are no children in these maximum-security detention centres, according to the department. (The facilities on Christmas Island, for instance, provide various levels of accommodation.)
Overseas centres, as one example Australia funds the Tanjung Pinang detention centre in Indonesia. People whose boats were bound for Australia and turned back are kept in these centres. More overseas info
This map will show you where the facilities are located and how many people are detained in each (as far as DIAC information provides).
The official line: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship provides its own information on each type of facility. Be warned, most of it is bureacratic waffle that does not accurately reflect the true picture. For example, they state that children in APODs (alternative places of detention) get to go out on regular excursions. We know that at one APOD with no outdoor playing facilities this has meant a weekly visit to the local park for 10 children at a time. There were around 80 children detained there, so each child goes to the park roughly once every 2 months. Here's how DIAC explains an APOD and other detention options.