As Australia’s immigration detention continues moving out of control – over-crowding, mental trauma, privatised and unaccountable care – the British controller of the centres, Serco, is now just trying to shut down debate:
The company running Australia’s detention centres is cracking down on guards suspected of talking about what goes on behind the wire.
Serco management is on high alert for potential leakers following damaging revelations about staffing levels and work practices in detention centres published in The Australian.
The company has so far been unable to pinpoint or punish any of its employees over those reports. But Serco now believes it has found the source of the sensational allegations aired on Sydney radio station 2GB.
Serco yesterday confirmed it has stood down a female casual employee while it investigates whether she appeared on Ray Hadley’s program making claims including that rioters from Christmas Island subsequently participated in protests at Villawood.
On Friday, Hadley read out more claims, such as assaults and drug abuse were regular and some detainees were allowed to make trips to rehabilitation centres where they obtained illicit substances.
The Immigration Department has described the claims as completely false.
Serco has held a meeting with the woman, who continues to be on the payroll. Her union representative was at the meeting.
A Serco spokeswoman told The Australian yesterday that staff had access to a confidential whistleblower service but “this is not a whistle-blowing matter”.
“All employees have a responsibility to report instances of malpractice or inappropriate behaviour,” the spokeswoman said.
“Employees then have the right to report matters anonymously and be protected from adverse employment action arising from the reporting of concerns in good faith.
“However, all Serco employees who work on the DIAC contract are required to sign a deed of confidentiality.”
Hadley told listeners that his “whistleblower”, who spoke in a New Zealand accent on his program, accompanied rioters from Christmas Island to Villawood on a recent charter flight.
Hadley claimed the woman had been threatened with voice recognition software. Serco said it “strongly denies this”.