Covid 19 and Immigration Detention

Department of Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs oversights immigration detention, and programs associated with detention. These include the detention visitor program closure, visits by legal representatives and Consular Officials, oversight by scrutiny bodies, provision of ​Religious services, Excursions, Medical services, ​Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and suspected cases of COVID-19 in immigration detention.

Currently, there are no detected cases of Covid-19 in immigration detention. However, the two-person rule has come into effect, limiting access and contact with others who have concern and provide selfless service for those in detention.

Detention visitor program closure 

The immigration detention visitor program was ceased on Tuesday 24 March 2020. These measures are NOT permanent and we will continually review them.

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the immigration detention network.

As community transmission of COVID-19 increases within Australia, our key focus is preventing the entry of COVID-19 to facilities.

We are committed to the health and safety of detainees and staff.

The changes are consistent with those in the community and we will continue to put in place measures in detention facilities in line with advice from the Department of Health and the broader Commonwealth response.These are being regularly reviewed.

Each detainee will receive a $20 phone credit each week to support ongoing contact with family and community groups via their personal devices. This will continue until the measures are lifted for the visits program.  We understand the important role visitors play in detainees’ health and wellbeing. 

The decision to cease visits has been carefully considered in relation to social distancing and measures across all States and Territories around public gatherings and current health advice. ​

Legal Representatives and Consular Officials

We are asking legal representatives and detainees to use alternate means to engage including through phone calls, skype or other audio visual tools.

We can assist detainees with the use of audio-visual equipment and private rooms for phone calls in facilities where available. Your assistance with this is appreciated. 

​Scrutiny bodies

​We understand the importance of detainees having contact  with other departments.

We are working with the Ombudsman’s Office, the Red Cross and the Australian Human Rights Commission to ensure they can continue their ongoing work across detention facilities, although in a different format.

​Religious services

It has been observed that most religious groups are self-electing to cease visits to detention facilities as they adhere to the measures being implemented within the community.

Each detention facility has a Religious Liaison Officer (RLO) who is working with a number of religious groups to ensure alternate methods for religious observance. In some cases, pre-recorded services are being made available where a religious group does not have an alternate means to provide remote services.


In line with the health advice it has been recommended that all movements be restricted for detainees unless absolutely necessary.

Medical services

All detainees continue to have ongoing access to the medical professionals located within facilities.

Detainees have access to the Health Advisory Service (HAS) for medical advice outside of onsite clinic hours. Qualified medical personnel provide medical advice.

​Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE levels are being closely monitored to ensure there is sufficient equipment to respond to COVID-19.

We are continually working closely with the service providers to ensure a coordinated response to any infectious disease outbreak.

Our Detention Health service provider works with detainees who attend clinics on COVID-19 related measures.

Suspected cases of COVID-19

If clinically indicated detainees will be tested in line with advice from health professionals and will be isolated pending test results.

Our Detention Health service provider has conducted public health awareness activities and posted information at sites on hand hygiene and other preventive measures detainees can take.


Covid-19 and Detention


Image Source