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4 Dec 2020

Rachel Eddie & Bianca Hall, The Age

Outcry as another suburban motel is used to detain refugees

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4 December 2020

A makeshift detention centre at a suburban motel in Melbourne’s north has been "secretly" used by Australian Border Force to house asylum seekers and people awaiting deportation.

Best Western Fawkner Suites and Serviced Apartments on Sydney Road has for months been used as an alternative place of detention, similar to the Mantra Hotel in Preston where asylum seekers and refugees have been held after being medically evacuated from Manus Island.


Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow has previously condemned the detention of asylum seekers in motels, saying: "The commission ... generally considers that motels are not appropriate places of detention, given their lack of dedicated facilities and restrictions on freedom of movement and access to open space".


A spokesman for Border Force said: "There are a range of services provided at APODS [alternative places of detention], including health and welfare services and visits. Detainees accommodated at APODS have access to outdoor facilities and gym equipment, and are also able to travel to the closest immigration detention facility to engage in activities, including outdoor activities."


The owner of the Best Western in Fawkner declined to comment citing privacy laws, but added that the hotel industry had been doing it tough during COVID-19.

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