(See also section on ‘Justice’)
The Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) has adopted precautionary measures including physical distancing, screening on entry and isolation and testing of detainees where considered necessary as well as suspending in-person visits by family and friends in favour of conducting visits through videoconference software. Access to the AMC by community service providers has not been prohibited, however many organisations have temporarily suspended their physical presence within the AMC. Other places of detention, like the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre, are continuing to receive visitors, albeit subject to strict physical distancing and hygiene measures.
Denial of access to family visits can result in significant mental health concerns for people in closed environments, who are also at greater risk of infection than the general population due to the nature of the facilities and the lack of ability for suspected or confirmed cases to be fully isolated within them. Visits by family and friends provide an additional means of monitoring that vulnerable people in closed environments are continuing to be treated humanely and with due respect for their inherent dignity.
Restrictions on visits must therefore be only as onerous as strictly necessary with regard to public health advice. The Commission is continuing to monitor lockdown practices across closed environments to gain a clearer picture of whether they are being applied fairly and equitably. The Commission can be contacted regarding a discrimination, health service, disability or community services complaint or if advocacy support is required to assist young people and adults detainees who are concerned that their rights are being breached.
European Committee on the Prevention of Torture, Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic (20 March 2020)
COVID-19 Prison Watch, Australia (including summaries of restrictions in Australian prisons, updates, and resources for advocacy)