Call for rethink on refugee security threats
Dr Thom says ASIO and immigration officials could work on getting some asylum seekers out of indefinite detention. Photo: Alastair Bett
ASIO and immigration officials should work together on strategies to enable refugees who are considered security threats to live in the community, according to one of the nation's most senior authorities on security, Dr Vivienne Thom.
Dr Thom, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, says the two groups could work on ''risk mitigation strategies and conditions'' that would enable asylum seekers to be released from indefinite detention. In an annual report to Parliament, she says the strategies would be limited to ''those vulnerable detainees where DIAC [the Immigration Department] has significant concerns about their welfare if they were to remain in an immigration detention centre''.
The report was written before last week's landmark High Court decision struck down a regulation that has prevented more than 50 refugees deemed security risks by ASIO from being granted protection visas. The refugees have been in detention for up to three years.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has yet to give a detailed response to the High Court decision, beyond saying its implications for those in detention were being assessed and a review mechanism for adverse assessments would be introduced.
Dr Thom says a ''whole-of-government approach'', including a modest increase in funding to ASIO, could result in a reduction in detention centre costs as well as contribute to better longer-term health outcomes.
ASIO responded cautiously to the proposal, saying it anticipated a role for the security agency that ''might be outside of its current legislative remit''.