|Issue No. 133
|26 April 2002
The Struggle Continues
Interview: If The Commission Pleases
History: Protest and Celebrate
Unions: A Novel Approach
Industrial: Hare Tony, Hare Tony
International: Never Forget Jenin
Politics: Left Right Out In France
Health: Delivering A Public Health Revolution
Review: The Secret Life of U(nion)s
Poetry: May Day, May Day
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Gold Star Student
Time for a General Strike?
Detention Centre Vets Song Lyrics
A member of Sydneyï¿½s Trade Union and Solidarity choirs, who performed in last weekï¿½s Villawood concert, told Workers Online how far Government paranoia over asylum seekers had gone.
"We were required to submit all our songs for their approval and had to attend several interviews before they would give us the go-ahead," the anonymous chorister revealed.
"Such are the security restrictions that we were actually surprised when they gave us the green light."
The concert went ahead after six months of negotiations between centre management and choir representatives.
Detainees from a variety of countries, including Colombia, China, Nepal, Fiji and Spain attended a recital that included songs in some of their languages.
Our source said audience and performers were allowed to mingle and share stories after the recital.
Detention Officers Not Scapegoats
Meanwhile, workers at detention centres at Port Hedland and Curtin are caught in an impossible position and must not be used as scapegoats for the Federal government's poor policies, their union says.
The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union's Carolyn Smith, says officers working in the detention centres lack permanency, have inadequate training and suffer from chronic understaffing.
"It is an impossible situation that our members are in," Smith says. "They are expected to work in a very difficult environment, but without the support they need.
"It is grossly unfair that they should be made scapegoats because of the inability of the Federal Government to run these centres properly.
"More than 50 percent of the Detention Officers are casual employees, some receiving only one shift per fortnight.
"For the 180 detainees at present in the Port Hedland centre, there have been on occasion only seven officers on duty in the compound. This level of staffing is appallingly inadequate.
"How can our members possibly provide a proper level of care and security under these conditions?"
Smith says it is a problem which can only get worse and the Federal Government must act immediately to ensure that the safety of both officers and detainees is assured."
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