Detention is the detainment of people in the country whilst their identity and circumstances are validated. The relevant legislation to the process of detention is the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) which allows for the detainment of people withinn a country. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is responsible for the management of immigration detention services that detain people. This service is a method of detainment as opposed to punishment, functioning as a holding administration whilst its occupants’ claims are considered, but can also facilitate with immediate removal. DIAC states that a number of policy objectives are achieved for the good of the public, through Immigration detention centers.

Maintaining a person’s presence in a secure detention serves many significant purposes for the process of the migration program; the protection of the Australia community is ensured as the status and identity of the
unauthorised arrivals undergo a thorough examination before they are granted a visa, health checks can be effortlessly performed as detainees are conveniently available in order to meet the requirements for the grant of a visa, and applicants are physically available in the process of a successful or unsuccessful visa application with denials resulting in a non-problematic removal from Australian territory.

Detention centres may be viewed as an appropriate housing method for those who face unstable conditions or even death in their home country. A ‘refugee’ must have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for the reason of their race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership of a political group, which is a requirement to be considered under this definition.

People who attempt to come to Australia without a visa may be handled differently depending on their circumstances. Although it is disallowed for people to be
penalised for the reason of their method of arrival, some without a valid visa may be be put into detention centres as the relevant documents that are necessary may not exist (consequentially their status is considered ‘unlawful’, being regarded as low-security and a potential flight risk). Unlawful non-citizens are commonly those that had arrived in Australia without a visa at all, did not leave once the time the visa allowed them to stay had ended, and/or had their visa cancelled e.g. foreign illegal fishermen whose enforcement visa had ceased.

In theory, high quality immigration detention is the focus of the DIAC with the provision of supportive services that maintain the well-being of people within the centres; humane principles and standards form the basis for the caring and secure nature of accommodation. There is also an aim to develop living arrangements that are appropriate to the people’s needs, with the provision of housing and accommodation.

Immigration detention is one of the most closely
scrutinised of Government programs. Both the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Parliament are advised every six months on the status of people who have been in immigration detention for two years or more. There is regular scrutiny by external agencies, such as the: Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Commonwealth Ombudsman, United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Immigration Detention Advisory Group (IDAG).

Legal permission is the only legitimate exception to their removal from Australia, through the grant of a visa.

Immigration detention facilities are located at:

· Villawood (established in Sydney in 1976)
· Maribyrnong (established in Melbourne in 1966)
· Perth (established in 1981)
· Christmas Island (established in September 2001)
· Northern Territory (established at Darwin in 2006)

Case study:
On the 17th of April on 1998 a Kenyan visa applicant was detained within immigration detention upon entering Australia. The delegate refused his application for a protection visa but he was provided with the alternative of seeking review through the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). The review was unsuccessful resulting in his removal during August 1988 by the department. The Federal Court allowed the visa applicant to return to Australia because the time limit within which he could apply for a review had not expired yet. A bridging E visa allowed the applicant to reside in a community instead of the detention centre until his appeal was resolved. After his visa was considered no longer valid, he was placed in immigration detention again, with the resolution of his application still pending.