Oversight and assurance

There are laws, policies, rules and practices that govern the treatment of people in Australian immigration detention facilities, and the length and conditions of immigration detention are subject to regular internal and external review.


Internal oversight processes help to care for and protect people in immigration detention and to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of all detainees.

The Department has a number of internal assurance processes, including the Detention Assurance team and Internal Audit.

The Detention Assurance team is part of the Department’s corporate Integrity, Security and Assurance function, and operates independently of immigration detention management. Detention Assurance works with stakeholders to ensure continual improvement in our immigration detention processes. It strengthens assurance and integrity in the management of detention services, including the operations delivered by Australian Border Force.

The work of Detention Assurance forms part of the Department’s broader assurance activities, and provides confidence that the Department is able to achieve its strategic, operational and tactical objectives fairly and effectively. The Detention Assurance function reviews allegations or incidents within the immigration detention network.

In addition to the work of Detention Assurance, internal audits are undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the detention control framework and decision-making processes and reported to the Department’s audit committee.

In October 2015, the Department established the joint role of DIBP Chief Medical Officer and ABF Surgeon General who advises the Department and Government about health matters, including workplace health and safety. The role contributes to the overall strategic direction of the Department from a clinical health care perspective.

The Department also has an Independent Health Advice Panel, and the members are appointed by the Chief Medical Officer. The IHAP monitors health services and provides advice on improvements, to the Department.


The Department of Home Affairs—including the ABF, works with independent external bodies, the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention (MCASD), the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission, to provide regular access to immigration detention facilities to allow for review of the management of these facilities.

The members of MCASD are drawn from the community and appointed by the Minister, for their expertise. The Council gives independent advice to the Minister about policies, processes, services and programmes relating to asylum seekers and immigration detention. MCASD conducts regular meetings at immigration detention facilities with detainees and members of the community and reports back to the Minister and the Department.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman undertakes regular oversight inspections of immigration detention facilities and provides feedback to the Department about any areas of concern they identify as well as providing suggested improvements.

The Australian Human Rights Commission investigates and resolves complaints about alleged breaches of human rights in immigration detention. If a complaint is not resolved, the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission may decide to hold a public hearing to ascertain whether a breach of human rights has occurred. Should the President be satisfied that a breach of human rights has occurred, it will be reported to the Federal Attorney-General. In this report, the President can make recommendations about how to resolve the issues raised. This report is tabled in Parliament.

Immigration detainees are advised about these agencies during their induction program when they arrive at an immigration detention facility and advised about how to contact them.

The Australian Red Cross also visits immigration detention facilities. They monitor the conditions of detention and the treatment of people within the network, and offer services to restore family links.