At the Coalface: Advocacy in the dark: Seeking justice for asylum seekers

  • Johanne Gow
  • Mary Quilty
Keywords: immigration, Australia, refugee, asylum seekers, NGO


Two members of the Australian refugee support NGO 'ChilOut' detail the lack of public access to Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs), to the detainees within them and to the policies and procedures governing such centres. ChilOut organises visits to IDCs so ordinary Autralians can know and befriend detainees. However, stringent and sometimes arbitary control of IDC visitors mean their vists cannot ensure transparency. More formal written attempts to establish accountability such as ChilOut's submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Comission (HREOC) inquiry into children in detention and ChilOut's report in contractual compliance within IDCs have been dismissed or refuted by the Australian Government. Unaccountability also arises from confidentiality clauses in the 1998 contract betwen the Government and ACM (the private company which ran IDCs), the Government's shielding of ACM from adverse publicity, contractual incentives to cover up negative incidences, and 'commercial-in-confidence' deletions from publicly available versions of the contract. This articles argues that the lack of access to dentention centres reaches its zenith on Nauru offering further proof that Australia's current refugee policy is deliberately structured to hinder transparency and accountability. 


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How to Cite
Gow, J., & Quilty, M. (2004). At the Coalface: Advocacy in the dark: Seeking justice for asylum seekers. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 10(1), 46-56.