The Abbott government has defended relocating dozens of asylum seekers in Sydney to the other side of Australia while the Villawood detention centre undergoes renovations.
A group of Sydney-based asylum seekers will be relocated thousands of kilometres away at one of Australia’s most remote detention centres in a move labelled inhumane and possibly unjust.
Eighty-three Villawood detainees will be relocated to Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia on Thursday while the Sydney facility gets refurbished.
The planned move comes a day before 16 of the group, who have taken action against the federal government over the alleged leaking of personal details, are due to have their case mentioned in court.
Lawyer for the 16, Michaela Byers has told the ABC, it’ll be difficult to communicate with her clients, most of whom don’t speak English, once they are relocated.
“I can’t travel there and meet them face to face. I have no access to a free phone interpreter service, so i’d have to pay each time I call them.
“They’re mobile phones have been taken away from them, I’d assume that there’s no mobile phone coverage in north Western Australia. I’ve been given one phone number, a landline which is the centre manager for Curtin detention centre that I can call my cli9ent, but as a sole practitioner acting on a pro bono service, the phone call charges will be prohibitive.”
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said facilities across the detention network were “designed to be flexible and adaptive to changes”.
“The detention network is not run at the convenience of asylum seeker activists and detainees,” the spokesperson said.