Australia: Staff petition Melbourne university to cut ties with Wilson Security due to human rights violations in Manus Island & Nauru

Author: Helen Davidson, The Guardian, Published on: 5 July 2019

"Staff petition Melbourne university to cut ties with Wilson Security - but contract ended two years ago", 21 June 2019

Melbourne university executives have said they would meet anti-detention advocates in response to an open letter from more than 200 staff and academics calling for the uni to cut financial ties with Wilson Security over its involvement in Australia's offshore processing regime – even though the university subsequently acknowledged it had no contract with Wilson.

The letter was published in support of a campaign by refugee and asylum seeker-led advocacy organisation, Rise, and signed by more than 219 people including former human rights commissioner Prof Gillian Triggs, and author Prof Tony Birch.

It urged vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell to join other institutions in divesting from companies contracted by the Australian government for the assessment and detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

"There have been countless reports and inquiries regarding the deaths, torture and sexual abuse faced by refugees who have been arbitrarily incarcerated within Australia's mandatory detention centres," the letter said.

The University of Melbourne had a security contract with Wilson, a company that for many years provided security for Australia's offshore immigration detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, and which remains on Nauru, but that contract ended in 2017.

A spokesman for the university told Guardian Australia the letter had been received.

"The university's vice-president (administration and finance) and chief operating officer Allan Tait will be meeting with representatives of the Rise group to discuss the open letter and to understand their concerns," a spokesman said. The university appeared to be unaware that it no longer had a contract with Wilson.

[Company also mentioned in the report is Transfield/Broadspectrum]

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Related companies: Wilson Security