INDEPENDENT NEWS

Minister Announces Action Plan for Baxter, Aust.

Published: Mon 19 Sep 2005 09:23 PM
Minister Announces Action Plan for Baxter
Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, today launched plans to improve Baxter Immigration Detention Facility.
‘These changes not only respond to the recommendations of the Palmer Report concerning the need to improve mental health services in detention centres, facilities and amenity, but go beyond Mr Palmer’s recommendations,’ the Minister said.
‘No one wants to see anyone in immigration detention. However, Australia does not have a system that says you can remain in Australia beyond the duration of a valid visa.
‘The overwhelming majority of people, approximately 80 per cent, in immigration detention centres are visa overstayers or people who have breached visa conditions and are generally in detention for only short periods of time.
‘Despite this, the Palmer report identifies changes that need to be made to improve services and amenities for detainees. The Government endorsed this view when the Palmer Report was released in July. Today’s announcement demonstrates how the Government is going beyond Palmer by constructing a whole new visitor centre, sporting oval and facilities and providing a new central cafeteria.’
‘Further to the improved mental health services I announced in May this year, an integrated mental health strategy is being introduced at Baxter,’ Senator Vanstone said.
‘There is now a mental health team managing and reviewing cases as well as proactively screening detainees to identify any mental health concerns. This team will also coordinate health care plans and case coordination to make sure that, for example, an individual’s health care plan is considered when organising their activities inside and outside the facility.
‘The environmental and structural changes will include building improvements and increased activities for detainees both inside and outside the facility.
‘These include new sports facilities such as a floodlit oval with soccer and hockey pitches, a basketball hard court and volleyball turf court.
‘As well, detainees will have the opportunity to participate in additional outside activities such as local outings for fishing expeditions, attending sporting games and shopping.
‘Structurally, a new entrance and improved visitor’s centre are to be built at an estimated cost of several million dollars.
The sports oval will cost around half a million dollars, and negotiations are continuing for the other changes.
‘Plans are also being developed to further open up the accommodation compounds to provide a more open and pleasant view.
‘Further food service improvements are planned on top of recent improvements to food services at Baxter which have included greater choice and more self-catering.
‘All of these Baxter Plan changes will significantly alter the look and feel of the facility.’
‘These changes demonstrate once again how the Government is going above and beyond the Palmer recommendations to improve facilities for detainees, while maintaining the integrity of border control,’ Senator Vanstone said.

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