Protests, fires at Perth immigration detention centre after ‘suicide attempt’

Compound burns and man taken to hospital amid disturbance by detainees.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 11:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 11:37am

Protests and fires broke out at a Perth immigration detention centre on Sunday night, after the alleged attempted suicide of a young man inside.

Australian Border Force confirmed a detainee of the Yongah Hill centre was taken to hospital for medical treatment, but would not provide further details.

Early reports that the man had died were incorrect.

The spokesman said there was a “disturbance by a small number of detainees” and police and fire service officers were on site.

The incident began before midnight and continued until at least 4am, but had ended by Monday morning with no reported injuries.

According to one detainee, a young man had been ill all week. “He was so sick,” he said.

“They take him to the hospital, just give him blood and bring him back. Yesterday he was so angry and so tired.”

The detainee said he had spoken with the man earlier on Sunday evening, asking if he was OK. The man was later taken to hospital but the detainee did not know what had happened.

Some time before midnight parts of the Falcon Compound began to burn, and guards, accompanied by dogs, moved detainees out one by one and searched them.

“They want to take us, I don’t know where. It was so scary.”

A 2017 review by the Human Rights Commission of conditions at Yongah Hill found a “significant level of concern about the standard of physical health care provided … and the impact of detention on mental health”.

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The review noted the centre clinic was “well-equipped” but only operated from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Facility staff reported to the commission the limited range of services and limited hours “could place significant pressure on staff, who support a large number of people with complex and chronic health conditions”.

The department of home affairs said it would be making a full assessment of the damage from Sunday night’s disturbance.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of those in immigration detention and will not tolerate violent and aggressive behaviour within IDCs,” the spokesman said.

“We will take all appropriate steps to stamp out such activity and if criminal offences have occurred, they will be referred to police.”