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13 Shocking Allegations From The Senate Inquiry Into Nauru

The committee looking into conditions at the regional processing centre heard from service providers and the department of immigration.

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1. An unexploded bomb was found under the school tent.

Department of Immigration

Transfield Services, the company that operates the offshore detention centres, confirmed that an "unexploded ordnance" from WWII was found under the tent where primary school aged children attend school in the detention centre.

A spokesperson described it as a shell that had been defused.

The inquiry also heard evidence that children would often faint while in the school tent with the temperature reaching up to 50 degrees.

2. Transfield has only had a human rights policy for four weeks.

transfieldservices.com

Senators asked whether the company only brought in the policy as part of its bid to renew its $1.2 billion contract with the Australian government.

Transfield executive Kate Munnings denied that this was the case.

3. A staff member with Wilson Security was dismissed for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old detainee.

Department of immigration and border protection

Between November 2013 and March 2015, 11 security guards were disciplined or terminated for sexual assault or use of excessive force.

"What does that tell you, if there are 11 examples of that type of conduct?" Senator Kim Carr asked.

John Rodgers from Wilson Security explained these incidents involved hitting, pushing or smacking children, as well as using threatening language to a minor.

One female guard falsely claimed she was indecently assaulted by a detainee. After a police investigation it was revealed to be a consensual "inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old transferee." She was terminated immediately.

4. Transfield did not take responsibility for the decision to keep a child on Nauru after the child was abused by a staff member.

ABC 7:30

Sarah Hanson-Young questioned Transfield about a child who was abused by a member of staff, who was subsequently dismissed. The child then remained in detention, where the child was abused and humiliated by their abuser's friends out of retribution. Hanson-Young asked how this could possibly be justified."The responsibility for the allocation of accommodation for children is welfare so that question is best put to Save the Children," said a Transfield representative.It was then revealed that the decision to keep people in detention belongs to the department of immigration."I don't think blaming Save the Children is appropriate," said Hanson-Young.

5. The department of immigration says it has received 15 reports of sexual assault against minors from 2012 - 2015.

Australian Human Rights Commission

Transfield tabled evidence to the inquiry that there have been 30 cases of child abuse involving staff and 37 involving other detainees.

Save the Children staff reported allegations that a 7-year-old girl was sexually abused by a staff member in February this year. A Nauru police investigation found there was insufficient evidence and the child remains in detention. Sarah Hanson-Young said that the police did not interview Save the Children staff.

The department of immigration was not able to provide details on what they had done to secure the safety of the young girl.

6. The tents were never verified by the manufacturer as suitable for people to live in.

Wikipedia Commons

A Transfield representative told the Senate that it didn't ask the company who made the tents if they were appropriate to be used as dwellings.

It was revealed that the average stay for an asylum seeker on Nauru was 402 days.

7. The tents are infested with mould.

Photos I obtained showing mould in the tents in Nauru. Every single tent is now affected by mould #NauruInquiry

Transfield admitted that there was a mould problem on the island, due to the tropical climate of Nauru. They said 91 of the tents had been recently treated for mould, but couldn't guarantee that the mould would not return.

8. Staff traded marijuana or other goods for sexual favours, and joked about it with each other.

Refugee Action Coalition

It was revealed that Transfield only tested staff members for alcohol and not drugs, because they didn't have adequate facilities.

In March, the independent Moss review into sexual abuse at the detention centre, found evidence of trading marijuana for sex.

Natasha Blucher, a former caseworker for Save the Children on the island, said that she heard staff joking about it.

"These were discussed in a disturbingly casual manner, as if they were some sort of joke or not of great concern," she said.

9. Child detainees were often running out of clothes.

Australian Human Rights Commission

Blucher told the inquiry that their parents had to cut holes in their sneakers because their feet were growing too fast and their shoes were to small. She said children often asked Save the Children staff to fix their thongs, and they had to use bread ties or bits of string.

"Often their t-shirts and shorts didn't fit, they were too big, so children had to use hair ties to make sure their shorts didn't fall down," she said.

Inquiry chair senator Alex Gallacher expressed disbelief that there wasn't enough money in a $1.2 billion contract with Transfield to supply 120 children with shoes.

10. Women had to ask guards for sanitary products, and they were only ever given two at a time.

abc.net.au

Often women would not feel comfortable doing this, so they asked Save the Children staff to ask the guards on their behalf. This was permitted only if the caseworker brought the woman with her, so the guard could witness the caseworker handing the pads over.They were told this was due to security reasons, because sanitary items were used to soak gasoline in floodlights during the riots of 2013.Senator Hanson-Young pointed out that there were no women in the camp when the riot took place.

11. There were mass suicide pacts and evidence of widespread self harm.

Parliament of Australia

"People were telling their caseworkers that they had suicide pacts with other detainees to all kill themselves at the same time," said former caseworker Natasha Blucher.

12. Wilson Security apologised for spying on Sarah Hanson-Young when she visited in 2013.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

Executive manager John Rogers described the incident as the "isolated actions of a misguided individual" and offered his "unreserved apologies."

13. Asylum seekers were referred to by their boat number by staff.

Jon Faulkner / AAPIMAGE

Wilson Security told the inquiry that standard practice was to call people by their names, but a former caseworker from Save the Children said that she often heard detainees referred to by their boat number.

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at alexandra.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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