Individual Management Services Provided to People in Immigration Detention
The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of DIAC’s management of individual management services provided to people in immigration detention.
1. Immigration detention is one of the most complex, controversial and debated areas of government policy. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is responsible for administering immigration detention under the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act). The Migration Act requires people who are not Australian citizens and who are unlawfully in Australia to be detained in immigration detention.
2. In 2011–12, immigration detention cost $1.235 billion; $1.04 billion in administered costs and $192.44 million in departmental costs. Over half of the cost of immigration detention ($700 million) was paid to the two key service providers that are contracted to provide detention and health services in Australia’s immigration detention facilities. These contracts are managed by DIAC.
Immigration detention facilities and population
3. Australia has two types of immigration detention: ‘held’ immigration detention, where people are accommodated in immigration detention facilities; and community detention, where people are accommodated in the community. ‘Held’ immigration detention facilities (IDFs) include:
- Immigration Detention Centre (IDC);
- Alternative Places of Detention (APOD);
- Immigration Residential Housing (IRH); and
- Immigration Transit Accommodation (ITA).
4. There are currently 19 IDFs located in metropolitan and regional/remote areas throughout Australia’s states and territories. In addition, the Republic of Nauru and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea were designated as ‘regional processing countries’ under the Migration Act in September 2012 and October 2012 respectively.
5. As at 30 September 2012, there were 7670 people in held immigration detention—6552 men, 454 women and 664 children. The majority of detainees (around 72 per cent) were accommodated in IDCs and around one quarter were housed in APODs. The average time detainees spent in immigration detention as at 30 September 2012 was 83 days.1 However, some detainees continue to be detained for very long periods—956 detainees (10.2 per cent) had been in detention for over one year and, of these, 514 (5.5 per cent) for over two years.
Immigration detention service providers
6. DIAC contracts with three key providers to meet the needs of people in immigration detention. Providing detainees with services that meet their needs and expectations also supports the maintenance of good order of the immigration detention network and minimises the risk that disturbances will occur.2
Main detention service provider
7. Serco Australia Pty Limited (Serco) is the main detention service provider. DIAC has two contracts with Serco—one for the provision of detention services at APODs and IDCs and one for services in IRHs and ITAs. The contracts are currently valued at $1.67 billion and $94.36 million for five years from 2009, respectively.
8. The contracts outline a philosophy that describes the service delivery aims, as follows:
The aim of service delivery to People in Detention is to ensure that the only change to an individual’s wellbeing as a result of being in Immigration Detention is the restriction of freedom of movement. Immigration Detention is mandatory “administrative detention”; it is not indefinite or correctional detention. Arrangements and principles that underpin the requirements of Immigration Detention are detailed in the Immigration Detention Values.
The Department and the Service Provider will work together to ensure that every individual in the detention environment is treated with dignity, equality, respect and fairness, in accordance with the Immigration Detention Values. The Department and the Service Provider will facilitate a positive, safe and healthy detention environment by providing Services to maintain the physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing of the individual Person in Detention.3
9. The Immigration Detention Values (IDVs), referred to in the abovementioned contracts, were announced in July 2008 by the then Minister for Immigration and Citizenship as a key part of the Government’s New Directions in Detention policy. The IDVs are intended to guide and drive detention policy and practice. DIAC employees and the providers of services within the immigration detention network are expected to act in accordance with the values. The IDVs include that people in detention will be treated fairly and reasonably within the law (IDV 6) and that conditions of detention will ensure the inherent dignity of the human person (IDV 7).
10. The contracts with the main detention service provider set out, among other things, the individual management services to be provided to people in immigration detention. These services include the:
- programs and processes that the detention service provider employs to manage and engage with the detainee population, such as: interacting with people in detention; developing and maintaining Individual Management Plans; managing behaviour; identifying people in detention at risk; and engaging detainees in service design and provision; and
- services provided to detainees that are intended to meet their basic needs, such as: catering; clothing; programs and activities; internet access; and the Individual Allowance Program.
Other key service providers
11. International Health and Medical Services Pty Ltd (IHMS) provides general and mental health services to people in immigration detention. The contract with IHMS is currently valued at $679.81 million over five years from 2009 to 2014. A third contractor, MAXimusSolutions Australia (MSA), provides client support and independent observer services to unaccompanied minors. The contract covers the period July 2012 to March 2014 and is valued at $29 million.
12. The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of DIAC’s management of individual management services provided to people in immigration detention. The ANAO assessed whether:
- appropriate individual management services were provided to people in immigration detention;
- DIAC effectively monitored the individual management services provided to people in immigration detention and managed service provider performance; and
- DIAC’s administrative arrangements facilitated the cohesive provision of individual management services to people in immigration detention.
13. The audit focused on DIAC’s oversight of selected individual management services provided to people in held immigration detention. The services included within the scope of the audit were:
14. The audit did not include the performance of service providers or the services provided to detainees transferred to the Republic of Nauru or the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
15. Immigration detention is one of the most complex, controversial and debated areas of government policy. Over the past three years, the number of people in immigration detention has increased significantly. Around 1000 people were accommodated in immigration detention in June 2009, compared to around 7670 in ‘held’ detention and an additional 1688 in community detention as at 30 September 2012. Over the same period, the total number of immigration detention facilities in Australia and on Christmas Island increased from nine to 19. DIAC manages the contracts with the service providers to operate the facilities and provide a range of services to people held in immigration detention. The two five year contracts with the main detention service provider are currently valued at $1.77 billion. The contracts for health services and services to unaccompanied minors are valued at $679.81 million and $29 million, respectively.4
16. The growth in the number of irregular maritime arrivals5 in recent years has necessarily required DIAC and the key service providers to focus on immediate priorities for the provision of services to people in detention. Nevertheless, the contractual and administrative arrangements put in place by the department envisage a range of defined services being provided to detainees to meet their basic needs and to manage and engage with the detainee population. These services are expected to be provided across the full network of immigration detention facilities. In practice, however, there has been considerable variability in the level and standard of services delivered, in particular for the more complex types of individual management and engagement services.
17. The inconsistency in service provision has arisen largely because DIAC has not exercised sufficient strategic direction and national management oversight in response to the growth across the network to achieve consistent service provision by contractors. In the absence of such a strategic approach, various localised management and service provision arrangements have been developed. While some local flexibility should be expected in a national immigration detention network, service variability necessarily also impacts on a person’s experience during their period of detention. In severe cases, and particularly when significant numbers of detainees are moved around the network, the affect of inconsistency in service provision can lead to tensions within the detainee population, which may, in turn, increase the risk that good order may be jeopardised and disturbances could occur.
18. Consistent with the contracts, detainees are offered basic services, such as food, clothing and access to a range of programs and activities and are able to access the internet. Arrangements are also in place for: the development and maintenance of Individual Management Plans (IMPs); personalised staff interaction with detainees, primarily through a Personal Officer Scheme; and the management of detainees’ behaviour and detainees at risk of self harm or harm to others. However, generally IMPs were of a poor quality and were not dynamic or meaningful documents that could be used to effectively meet the individual needs of detainees. In addition, limited guidance about the Personal Officer Scheme has meant that it operates inconsistently across facilities, and the type, quality and number of programs and activities varied across the network.
19. The contracts with the detention service provider include a framework for assessing the service provider’s performance. In line with this framework, DIAC has established an adequate approach to monitoring and assessing performance, including as it relates to the provision of services to detainees. However, there are inconsistencies and a lack of clarity in parts of the contracts and the performance assessment framework, particularly in relation to the metrics used to assess the detention service provider’s performance, which DIAC has not addressed. In addition, departmental staff have not received adequate guidance to manage the complex contracts in a consistent way. Consequently, DIAC has not been in a position to effectively monitor the service provider’s performance in delivering services to detainees across the network.
20. DIAC employs a variety of mechanisms to communicate with, and facilitate the sharing of, information between its staff and the service providers. However, communications have been poorly managed at a national level and DIAC has not established an effective strategy for communicating and sharing information within the immigration detention network. As a consequence, service provision decisions and practices vary across facilities.
21. Managing the changes to the immigration program, including policy changes and the rise in the number of irregular maritime arrivals, has been challenging for DIAC and the service providers. Nevertheless, the shortcomings in DIAC’s management of the detention service provider’s performance and services provided to people in immigration detention continue to exist three years into the contract period and, naturally, impact on detainees. The variability in service delivery means that a person’s experience during their period of detention also varies, depending on where they are accommodated, that is, their placement within, and movement across, the immigration detention network.
22. DIAC has recently developed a new detention services governance framework and initiated several reviews and projects to improve its administration of immigration detention, including its management of services provided to detainees. Areas under review include: the Personal Officer Scheme; IMPs; programs and activities; contract management; and communications. Along with significant changes to DIAC’s senior management in this area, the initiatives are designed to improve the management of the services provided to detainees. It will be important for DIAC to closely monitor and review the outcomes of these initiatives and make adjustments as necessary, to enable a core level of services to be provided across the immigration detention network, while allowing sufficient flexibility to account for local and regional considerations in service delivery.
23. This report highlights a range of systemic issues in DIAC’s management of the services provided to detainees that require attention to achieve better outcomes for individuals and for the management of the immigration detention network. Specifically, the ANAO has made four recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of DIAC’s contract management of the services provided to people in immigration detention.
The detention service provider contracts (Chapter 2)
24. The detention service provider contracts are complex and lengthy documents. Currently, there are inconsistencies in some of the conditions of the contracts as well as a lack of clarity in some of the key definitions. For example, the timeframes for developing, implementing and reviewing detainees’ Individual Management Plans (IMPs), the intention of which is to identify and tailor the ongoing care and services required for the detainee, varies between the different types of facilities. This can impact on the services provided to detainees and DIAC’s management of the detention service provider’s performance. Drawing on its experience of the last three years, the department could use future contract variations more effectively to clarify or remove inconsistencies, rectify omissions, and clarify and rationalise the provisions in the contracts as appropriate. This approach would enable a core level of services to be provided across the immigration detention network, and also allow for sufficient flexibility to account for local and regional considerations in service delivery. The requirements of the contracts should also be reviewed prior to their renewal or retender.
Managing detainees (Chapter 3)
25. The service provider has established mechanisms to interact with detainees, including a Personal Officer Scheme. The majority of respondents to a survey conducted by the ANAO6 also felt that they were treated respectfully, fairly and reasonably by the detention service provider and DIAC staff. However, until late 2012 there was limited guidance available to staff at IDFs about the implementation and management of the Personal Officer Scheme, resulting in its inconsistent operation across the immigration detention network. The approach adopted by individual IDFs has meant that there are differences in locally developed IMP templates and the information captured. The IMPs for 17 of the 20 detainees reviewed by the ANAO did not meet the requirements outlined in the contracts and the relevant guidance materials. Generally, the quality of IMPs was poor and IMPs were not dynamic or meaningful documents that could be used to effectively meet the needs of detainees.
26. The detention service provider has implemented adequate procedures to manage detainees’ behaviour using Behaviour Management Plans. DIAC and the service providers have also put in place sound mechanisms to manage detainees identified as being at risk—the Psychological Support Program and Keep SAFE. These processes were understood by service provider personnel and generally adopted across the network. Detainees were engaged in the design and delivery of the services they receive through requests and complaints processes and Client Consultative Committees. These mechanisms assist to empower detainees and encourage a sense of control over aspects of their lives and contribute to maintaining the good order of each facility.
Services provided to detainees (Chapter 4)
27. The service provider generally provides the individual management services as required by the contracts. Detainees are provided with clothing and toiletries and their basic catering needs are being met with a variety of meals and snack food options, or self catering facilities where appropriate. Detainees could purchase additional items at the IDF shop. A range of programs and activities, including excursions, are provided above the minimum level required by the contracts. Internet access is also provided at all facilities to allow detainees to maintain contact with their families and work on their immigration cases.
28. However, there are shortcomings in a number of these services and the provision of services was inconsistent across the immigration detention network. Catering at Leonora and Darwin APODs is separately contracted and the contractual requirements are not as rigorous and extensive as the requirements at other facilities.7 The type and quality of programs and activities offered to detainees also varied. The number of programs provided for the month of May 2012 ranged from less than one to around 18 per detainee.
29. Further, the contractual requirements for programs and activities are not expressed in terms of the level of activities offered to detainees, but rather are expressed in terms of activities per facility (for example, the IDC/APOD contract requires one activity in the morning and afternoon for the whole facility). At a large facility, providing only one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon may not be sufficient to allow interested members of the detainee population to participate.
30. In addition, the Individual Allowance Program (IAP), under which detainees are allocated points that can be exchanged for items at the IDF shop, was not operating consistently, resulting in variations in the purchasing power of IAP points at different facilities. There were also variations in the items available for trade in the shops.
31. As a result, a person’s experience during their period of detention depends on where they are accommodated. While some local flexibility should be expected in a national immigration detention network, service variability necessarily also impacts on a person’s experience during their period of detention. In severe cases, particularly when significant numbers of detainees are moved around the network, the affect of inconsistency in service provision can lead to tensions within the detainee population, which may, in turn, increase the risk that good order may be jeopardised and disturbances could occur. Inconsistencies continue to exist three years into the contract period.
Placement of detainees (Chapter 5)
32. A detainee’s placement is important to their wellbeing and, given the variability in service provision across the immigration detention network, impacts on the services they receive.
33. Placement decisions are the result of complex considerations and factors. Participants in placement committees cooperate to achieve the best outcome for the detainee given operational and security concerns. However, other than bulk transfers, which describe the movement of a large group of detainees at one time from one facility to another, placements are initiated and arranged by and between DIAC’s case managers at individual IDFs. The success of these processes rely on the relationships between DIAC personnel in the various facilities. National office has limited oversight of or involvement in these placement decisions. In addition, there is an absence of data on the number of times detainees are moved within the network.
34. DIAC’s new placement model has the potential to provide a more strategic approach to placements within the immigration detention network. It should also provide detainees with more predictability and certainty about future moves. However, assessing the effectiveness and impact of the model will require DIAC to improve procedures to collect and analyse data about detainee placements and movements around the immigration detention network.
Managing service delivery performance (Chapter 6)
35. Managing the contracts for the provision of services to detainees is a complex and challenging task. However, DIAC has not exercised sufficient strategic direction and national office oversight of the detention service provider contracts or provided adequate guidance to staff to manage the contracts in a consistent way. As a result, contract management staff at individual facilities have developed localised approaches to managing the contracts and assessing service provider performance.
36. DIAC has established a process for assessing performance at the facility level that accords with the contractual requirements and allows for the calculation of fee abatements. However, the abatement indicator metrics, which DIAC uses to assess the service provider’s performance, could be better balanced to increase the focus on the quality of services provided to detainees and address some key elements of the contract, such as behavioural management and identifying detainees at risk. While there is scope in the contract to make changes to the performance management framework, to date the metrics remain unchanged.
37. The lack of effective contract management guidance and limited national oversight has resulted in multiple local agreements and an inconsistent approach to assessing performance across the immigration detention network. DIAC has recently introduced changes to address some of these issues and promote a more consistent approach to managing the contracts across the network. These initiatives include a Detention Risk Assessment Toolkit, a protocol for providing policy and contractual advice, and a database to capture that advice. However, many of the initiatives are in their early stages and it may be some time before improvements are noticeable. It will be important for DIAC to closely monitor the initiatives and review the effectiveness of the outcomes in the short, and longer, term and make adjustments as necessary. Assigning responsibility to one area within the department to coordinate and oversee the many reviews and projects currently underway would also improve the management of these projects.
Information sharing arrangements (Chapter 7)
38. DIAC uses a variety of mechanisms to communicate with and facilitate the sharing of information between its staff and the service providers, including formal and informal meetings, and communications via email and telephone. Some of these mechanisms are driven by the requirements of the service provider contract, and others are informal and ad hoc. The ANAO noted the generally constructive relationships between DIAC and service provider staff, and a willingness to achieve appropriate service delivery outcomes for detainees. However, DIAC has not established a strategy for communicating and sharing information between DIAC staff at national and local levels and with key service providers. Inconsistent practices and decisions across the detention network have been, in part, a consequence of poor communication as well as contract management. In addition, DIAC’s nominated information system, the CCMDS Portal, is not an effective tool for storing or sharing information about detainees or the services they receive.
39. DIAC has developed a new detention services governance framework, which is a positive response to some of the shortcomings in its management arrangements. If implemented effectively, regularly reviewed and revised as appropriate, the framework has the potential to improve DIAC’s management of the service provider contracts and its relationships with service providers. The implementation of a communications strategy would build on the framework and enhance DIAC’s management of immigration detention services by providing greater clarity about performance management and reporting requirements, and improve communication networks and information sharing protocols and systems.
40. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) welcomes the ANAO audit report on Individual Management Services to People in Immigration Detention. The detailed examination of the detention service provider contracts, provision of services to detainees, and management of the performance of the service provider is a valuable contribution to the Department's ongoing continuous improvement processes in immigration detention
41. DIAC has made significant progress towards increasing service provider performance, through improvements in information sharing and investment in building DIAC staff capabilities in contract and performance management.
42. The recognition from the majority of respondents to the People in Detention ANAO survey that they felt that they were treated respectfully, fairly and reasonably by the detention service provider and DIAC staff is a positive reflection on the dedicated staff who work in a complex and challenging environment.
43. DIAC acknowledges that there is scope to realise further improvements through consistency in contractual requirements across the immigration detention facilities and will continue to build on the work that has already been undertaken.
|To better manage the provision of services to people in immigration detention, the ANAO recommends that DIAC, in consultation with the service providers, review the appropriateness and effectiveness of Individual Management Plans, which are currently used by the detention service provider to identify and tailor the ongoing care and services required by individual detainees.
DIAC’s response: Agreed.
To promote consistency in the interpretation and management of the detention services contracts and the provider’s performance, the ANAO recommends that DIAC:
DIAC’s response: Agreed.
To better assess the quality and effectiveness of services provided to detainees, the ANAO recommends that DIAC strengthens the performance management framework provided for under the contracts, and in particular the metrics used to evaluate the service provider’s performance.
DIAC’s response: Agreed.
The ANAO recommends that DIAC develops and implements a communications strategy that provides a framework for communicating and sharing information between DIAC staff at national office and across the immigration detention network and with the key providers of immigration detention services.
DIAC’s response: Agreed.
 Includes people in community detention.
 The detention service provider defines good order as a variable state of the immigration detention facility where the mood of the clients in detention and the security of the facility is within acceptable parameters. Good order should be conducive to the welfare of the clients, visitors, staff from Serco, DIAC and other service providers, and that risk to these cohorts is appropriately minimised.
 As part of audit fieldwork, the ANAO conducted a survey of people in immigration detention. The survey was made available to all detainees in the facilities visited during the audit. It was provided in 11 languages, including English. A total of 301 responses were received from detainees at 12 IDFs.