The Australian Government is focused on strengthening Australia’s border and security controls. The Australian Government’s Operation Sovereign Borders stemmed the flow of people smuggling boats carrying more than 50,000 people, including over 8000 children, between 2008 and 2013.
The reduction in the number of people in immigration detention facilities due to the success of Operation Sovereign Borders allowed the Department to close 17 immigration detention facilities, as announced in the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 Commonwealth Budgets, creating over $500 million in savings for Australian taxpayers.
The closures are part of a comprehensive long-term plan for Australia’s immigration detention network that includes the updating of infrastructure across the remaining immigration detention facilities. The Australian Government is investing in its immigration detention infrastructure to ensure it is fit for purpose for at least the next decade and can be used to manage any potential risks to community safety and security.
Included in the 2016/17 Budget, was the closure of four immigration detention facilities – Perth Immigration Residential Housing, Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, Blaxland Compound at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre and Wickham Point Alternative Place of Detention where the lease expired in November 2016 and was not renewed.
North West Point Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island will be placed in contingency to be re-opened within 72 hours if required. Similar arrangements are already in place for Construction Camp and Phosphate Hill Alternative Places of Detention on Christmas Island. Keeping selected immigration detention facilities in a state of readiness is a prudent contingency measure to ensure there is appropriate capacity in place to respond to any change in operational requirements.
Wickham Point was closed in November 2016 and Perth Immigration Residential Housing in December 2016.
The Department is preparing to close Maribyrnong IDC and Blaxland Compound in the second half of 2018.
North West Point IDC will be placed in contingency in the second half of 2018.
All detainees from Maribyrnong, Blaxland and North West Point will be transferred to other immigration detention facilities by the second half of 2018.
The Australian Border Force will continue to maintain a presence on Christmas Island. However, reduced immigration activity will have an impact on the Christmas Island economy. The need to maintain three immigration detention facilities in addition to Department-owned housing may create opportunities for local contractors. A tender will be announced by the Department in the first half of 2018 for the maintenance and upkeep of immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island.
The Department is working closely with the Christmas Island community to help them prepare for change after North West Point is placed in contingency. The Department is holding community engagement events to consult with the local community and keep community members informed of developments.
Those wishing to seek information can contact
Frequently asked questions
How many detainees are expected to be transferred from Maribyrnong, Blaxland and North West Point to other immigration detention facilities (IDFs)?
The number of detainees transferred will depend on numbers in each of these sites at the time of closure and/or movement into hot contingency.
When are the detainees being transferred to other IDFs?
Detainees will be transferred by the second half of 2018 when their IDF is either closed or placed into contingency.
What is happening to Maribyrnong IDC and Blaxland Compound?
Once vacated, the sites at Maribyrnong and Blaxland Compound will be sold.
Who is managing the closure of the immigration detention facilities?
The Department of Home Affairs is managing the process.
What community consultation has the Department done with the Christmas Island community?
The Department hosted the first community engagement event about the plans for Christmas Island in October 2017. The Department invited community and key stakeholders to attend the event and to discuss any questions they had. Further community consultation will be undertaken in the lead up to the facility's transition.