Special team to oversee detention centres

THE nation's immigration detention network will be watched more closely, with a new team to oversee the integrity of the system, despite concerns it will not be independent.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday the team would be made up of departmental officers to "independently ensure the integrity of service providers".

The initiative follows a series of allegations of mistreatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres, which the government has begun investigating.

Mr Morrison said the team would form part of a larger "integrity and assurance framework" in the department.

While it will provide advice to the department's secretary independent of current service providers, it will not involve any stakeholders or policy experts outside the government.

The Greens border protection spokeswoman Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has questioned whether it would be independent.

While she welcomed the initiative, she urged the government to ensure the team reported directly to parliament, for added scrutiny of its work.

"When the Abbott government came to power, they immediately scrapped the Independent Health Advisory Group," she said.

"That was a bad mistake and people have been exposed to harm as a result.

"While this is a step in the right direction, it's not enough and it won't make the camps of abuse and cruelty on Manus and Nauru liveable."

Mr Morrison said the team would also audit contracts for detention centres and "identify trends and emerging issues".

The new team will start work on December 1.

- APN NEWSDESK



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