Ward 5d - Precursors



2004: Transfer of Asylum seekers from Baxter Immigration Detention Centre (SA) to Marybyrnong Detention Centre (VIC)

The convoy included an escapee from the infamous Woomera camp for asylum seekers. A report found ‘Serious violations of the Immigration Detention Standards and of GSL’s External Transport and Escort Services Generic Operational Procedure’.

A separate complaint made by two of the prisoners, investigated by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, found that during the first leg of the journey from Maribyrnong IDC to Mildura the human rights of the detainees were breached under Articles 7 and 10(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

These cases exemplify the manner in which custodial regimes of necro-transport operate across a racialised spectrum that encompasses both Indigenous and refugee detainees. As these different cases evidence, detainees’ lives are placed at risk through the systemic breaching, by both state and non-state actors, of a number of basic rights.


2006: Sandfire Roadhouse Incident

14 Aboriginal prisoners being transported from Broome to Roebourne were locked in confinement cells in the back of a van after the air conditioning broke down. In response to this, former Minister for Corrective Services Margaret Quirk stated, ‘It is intolerable that in this day and age people should be treated to such inhumane conditions, and I have requested the Department that we scrutinise existing procedures to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.’ 

Following this incident and Mr Ward’s death, the necrotransport of prisoners has continued. The death in 2009 of the non-Aboriginal man Mark Holcroft in a prison van operated by the New South Wales Corrective Services indicates that dangerous conditions were not confined to private prison transport, the treatment of prisoner transport as a commercial operation now works to amplify the manner in which prisoners lives are placed at risk within custodial regimes managed by both state and non-state actors.

In  mid-2017, the transfer of two women from Bandyup Women’s Prison in WA to the Frankland Centre (secure forensic mental health facility) triggered a review by the Office of the Inspector for Custodial Services (OICS). This included an Aboriginal woman who was transported while naked and distressed and a woman who was forced to complete 2 hours of punishment and confinement before being taken to the centre. The review notes, ‘…staff did not consider these incidents to be unusual, and did not recognise the need for the incident to be reported. This reflects an acceptance of events in a custodial environment, which would not be acceptable to the wider population‘.






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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.