Muslim refugees not getting adequate nutrition due to lack Halal certified food in Brisbane detention centre

Media Release

10 September 2020

Around 60 people from refugee and Muslim backgrounds detained at the Kangaroo Point detention centre in Brisbane have not had access to Halal certified food since arriving in Australia, more than a year ago.

A small group of people suspected that the food they were being given was not Halal certified. They contacted catering companies to investigate and questioned SERCO and Australian Border Force (ABF).

They found that the catering companies did not have Halal certification and have complained to SERCO and ABF, who have taken no action to correct the issue.

Some of the people are clients of ASRC’s detention advocacy program and have told caseworkers their mental and physical health has deteriorated because they have not been able to practise their religion as have unknowingly eaten non Halal certified food for many months before the discovery.

Since the discovery several months ago, people have not been eating proper full meals provided at the detention centre, surviving on snacks, two-minute noodles and rice, thus not getting adequate nutrition

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) caseworkers have assisted people affected to lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission on grounds of discrimination and that their human rights have been breached by a Commonwealth Government body.

Human rights activist and person detained at Kangaroo Point, Amin Afvai said:

“I didn’t come to Australia to seek asylum because I needed to be given food, I came for freedom and a safe home.”

”But the Australian Government has held us in detention for eight years and we have no control over our lives or freedom to practise our culture or religion.”

“We have asked many times for Halal certified food from Australian Border Force and SERCO, but they don’t respect our religious freedom or cultural rights.”

“The Australian Government should release us from detention so we can practise our religion freely in the community and access real Halal certified food for our physical and mental health.”

ASRC Detention Advocacy Caseworker Nina Field said:

“This blatant disregard of religious and cultural rights is a real body blow for the people held at Kangaroo Point detention facility.”

“Faith was one of the few things that had not already been taken from them in offshore processing and onshore detention facilities.”

“People feel betrayed, distressed and many have stopped eating the meals provided because they can’t trust that it is safe for them to eat.”

Detention Advocacy Manager Sadaf Ismail said:

“Originating from a Muslim cultural background, I can’t imagine the distress people must be feeling at being forced to eat food that interferes with their faith and stops them practising integral part of their religion.

“Australia is a multicultural nation and this is a disgraceful breach of freedom of religion and human rights.”

“Halal certified food ensures spiritual purity of food being consumed and therefore eating non-Halal food violates the faith which people grow up with from birth, harming mental and physical health.”

Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Jana Favero said:

“People detained at Kangaroo Point Hotel were brought to Australia for medical treatment under the Medevac laws and have already deteriorating mental and physical health.”

“The ASRC calls on the Morrison Government to release people from detention so that they can access independent support, medical treatment and practise their culture and religion freely.”


Click here for images of meal package label and Kangaroo Point detention centre

Media contact: Jana Favero, 0438 829 651

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