A lot of the reason "The Chase" came to fruition was because of the money I was earning working for Serco. I was able to pay for all my features, promo, and pressings thanks to this job I had. I worked with Serco in a variety of roles, starting as a Client Services Officer, then moving up into a Client Services Manager and a Programs & Activities Manager. Basically, for you that don't know, Serco looks after the security and welfare of asylum seekers in the detention centres for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
We had copped a bit of a bad rap, and I thought I would open your eyes to what was really going on inside these centres from someone who was on the front line.
Our clientele is mainly made up of Iranians, with other cultural groups from Somalia, Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Kurdish, Palestinians and much more. Generally the clients are well behaved, but as their stay in detention stretches out past the 6 month mark, that is when we encounter problems such as self harm, protesting, assaults and riots. From my personal estimation, about 40% of the asylum seekers that arrive by boat are legitimate refugees.
With the Liberal government coming back into power, asylum seekers are not being settled in Australia anymore. As soon as they hit Christmas Island, there is a 48 hour turnaround before they are transported to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea or to Nauru, where they are to be settled. Any asylum seekers who arrived pre decision, are to be settled in Australia, but are expecting a lengthy stay in detention. I even hear they are thinking of taking the clients on bridging visas, that are in our communities, back into detention.
As for Serco services, they were very good. We never used forced on the clients unless it was approved by the department and was necessary. So the idea that we were walking around with batons and tazers is just ridiculous. We had a very good welfare system in place, which is why Serco won the contract in the first place, which touches base with every client's needs on a weekly basis. The relationship between officers and clients was generally very good. We were able to learn off each other, and respect each other. The programs and activities for the clients was also Serco's strong point. A very intensive monthly schedule was created based on client needs, which we would identify through surveying. Some examples of what we would run, English classes, art and craft, various sporting activities and competitions, about Australia, Nauru, Manus class, womens group, current affairs and stuff tailored for unaccompanied minors and children.
The welfare and activites aspects of the centre contributed to the overall security of the centre. The contingency planning that came about after the 2010 riots (which was a result of poor planning and poor client processing times) was top notch, so the centre is prepared for the correct response for any event that may occur, also supported by the AFP and other key stakeholders on the island. Very impressive indeed.
I hope this sheds some further light on what goes on in these centres. Any questions, just comment below...