The Victorian Health Professionals Association condemns the passing of the Border Force Act in May 2015, proposed by the Liberal/National Coalition Government and supported by the Labor Opposition. This Act provides for the jailing, for two years, of any worker in the immigration detention system who speaks to the media or the community about the conditions within immigration detention centres. This could also potentially apply to any employee who publicly talks about their conditions of employment in the immigration detention facilities.
The law applies to social workers, youth workers, doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, Department of Immigration staff and anyone working for or contracted to the Department of Immigration.
It is our belief that this law was passed in response to revelations that children are being sexually and physically abused within offshore immigration detention centres, and is designed to circumvent media scrutiny of any such abuse.
Jailing workers for speaking out about the conditions of their employment is in direct contravention of the International Labor Organisation standards on freedom of expression in the work force. It runs counter to the protections for workers that the union movement has fought hard for over the decades.