Asylum-seekers transferred or given Australian visas following closure of detention centre

Thu, 2012-03-08 11:16 AM
Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced the closure of the Pontville Immigration Detention Centre in Tasmania on March 6.

Bowen said the last 12 detainees out of the original 113 people at the centre have now been released into the Australian community on permanent protection Australian visas, or placed in community detention or given bridging visas if they cleared health, identity and security requirements.

Bowen pointed out that Pontville was always intended to be a temporary facility for only six months to deal with an influx of asylum-seeker boat arrivals. He added that the people of Tasmania had provided valuable support to the Pontville detention centre throughout its six months of operation.

"I thank the Tasmanian community for the positive feedback the Government has received about Pontville Immigration Detention Centre and the benefits it has provided to the local community," Bowen said. "However the need for such temporary detention accommodation has been reduced with new detention accommodation now available."

The closure of the Pontville detention centre comes despite months of lobbying from local residents. Community groups in the Hobart region had been lobbying the federal government to keep the facility as a permanent processing centre, claiming its economic benefit to the region is as much as AU$14 million.

The site will now be decommissioned with the secure perimeter fence being used by the Defence Department.

Emily Conolon of the Tasmanian Asylum Seekers Support Group stated that many of the asylum-seekers who received an Australian visa or temporary residency status have chosen to remain in the area.

"Adjusting to a new country is obviously a long process," said Conolon. "I think they're at an advantage in that the Tasmanian community is so welcoming and it's a smaller community where they can get to know people more easily."

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