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August 23, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

“A disgraceful incident at Broome hospital today (Wednesday) has highlighted the contemptuous attitude of Serco staff to the welfare of asylum seekers they have a duty to care for,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Serco officers cancelled medical appointments at Broome hospital for three Afghan asylum seekers for talking to a refugee advocate in the hospital waiting room.

Jackie, herself a trained nurse, was waiting for her own appointment when the three Afghans along with 4 Serco guards (and an interpreter) came into the waiting room.

The Serco guards became agitated as Jackie struck up a conversation with the asylum seekers. The guards warned the asylum seekers not to speak to her and warned her not to speak to the asylum seekers.

Jackie insisted she had a right to talk to them. It was a public place and there was no law against her, to them, talking to anyone. Despite the attempted intimidation, however, one asylum seeker wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and handed it to Jackie.

Serco guards then made an attempt to take the paper from Jackie. When she pocketed the paper, Serco called the police, They then declared that they were cancelling the asylum seekers’ medical appointments and took the three Afghans and placed them in the Serco van outside.

Jackie, was also outside, when the police arrived. The police told her that it was illegal for her to be talking to the asylum seekers – and astonishingly threatened to issue a move on order for daring to talk to the asylum seekers.

At this stage, a hospital security guard, came out to offer Serco a private room so the asylum seekers appointments could go ahead. But the Serco guards said no, the appointments are cancelled and, “We are talking these guys back [to Curtin].’ From Broome to the Curtin detention centre is about a two hour drive.

“If Serco is willing to display such contempt for their duty of care in a public hospital, what is happening behind the closed doors and the razor wire of the detention centre?” asked Ian Rintoul.

“To cancel a medical appointment because someone spoke to the asylum seekers show a complete disregard for their health and well-being. Serco has shown yet again that they are not fit to have responsibility for the care of vulnerable people. There is already an inquiry into the level of self harm and suicide in detention. Serco, itself needs to be investigated.”

For media interviews contact Jackie 0403 580 028, or Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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