UPDATE (7/7/15):

Thanks to the actions of ASRC supporters and other concerned people, the Government failed to get its Use of Force bill through Parliament in June.

Thousands of people wrote and phoned Labor and cross-bench Senators urging them not to support the Bill, which would give detention guards virtually unchecked power to use force against people seeking asylum, largely without recourse.  As a result, Senators Madigan and Leyonhjelm publicly said they would not support the Bill.

The Bill deferral is proof that when we act together, our voices are heard at the highest level of Government.  We expect a watered down version of the Bill to come back before Parliament later this year.  When it does, we’ll be ready to raise our voices and urge Senators to block this horror Bill – and we’ll be counting on your help to see off the Bill for good.

–  The ASRC Advocacy Team 


The Government is continuing its push for ever-more punitive, coercive powers against people seeking asylum.

The Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015 currently before Parliament will give detention centre officers essentially unchecked power to use force against people seeking asylum in any circumstance they think reasonable, which may include, for example, breaking up a peaceful protest.

This is more power to use force than is granted to prison officers.

When detention guards do use excessive force, they will effectively be immune from legal action except in the rarest of circumstances.  This virtually gives them the green light to use force without fear of repercussions.

This is another example of the Government’s ongoing push for unchecked power when it comes to their treatment of people seeking safety in Australia.

The Government should address the real causes of tension in detention centres – the poor living conditions, the lack of information about people’s cases and the arbitrary, lengthy nature of detention – with people currently being held for a record 442 days on average.

These new laws effectively sanction a culture of excessive force in detention centres. This is extremely alarming, particularly given the number of recorded incidents of poor conduct or excessive force by guards in detention centres, including:

These proposed laws are unnecessary and dangerous.  Help us oppose them.

Want to know more?

1. Our Media Statement about the Bill

2. Our two-page brief

3. For more detailed information about the impact of the bill on detained asylum seekers: Migration Amendment (MGOIDF) Bill 2015 – 25.03.2015 (1)

Letter writing tips:

  • Always be polite (abusive letters get binned)
  • Use your own words (copy/paste letters get binned)
  • State concisely why you believe the use of unrestrained force against asylum seekers is dangerous and unnecessary. Some things you could mention are:
    • The Bill does not differentiate between the use of force against adults and against children.
    • There are no limits set out in the Bill as to the circumstances in which lethal force would be used.
    • Training of guards is below that even of nightclub bouncers and yet the Bill would give them far greater power.
  • Be personal. State clearly why this matters to you as a voter and constituent of the Senator
  • Politely but firmly request a response and commitment from the Senator to block the Bill