16 Jan 2018

Detainees on hunger strike: 'We want our rights back'

10:25 am on 16 January 2018

New Zealanders detained in Australia are on a hunger strike because of the tightening of rules in the visitors policy at Villawood detention centre.

Villawood Detention Centre

Villawood Detention Centre Photo: AFP

The centre in Sydney holds many New Zealanders who are being detained while they wait to appeal visa cancellations.

Visitors to Villawood will from next Monday need to apply online, and will be asked about their criminal history.

They will also need at least two forms of identification when they visit. The applications will take up to five business days to be processed.

One detainee, Justin, told Summer Report that people were not told of the changes until visitors arrived at the weekend. He said they feared it would mean fewer visits and more red tape.

"We want our rights back ... we want it so we can have food brought back in, because as it was we used to be able to have meals brought in," Justin said.

"They changed it to where we're not allowed to have cooked meals and that brought in for visits anymore, it's just chips, lollies and two-minute noodles."

A spokesperson for the Australian Border Force (ABF) said the changes were communicated.

The ABF said the changes had been made because of an increase in contraband - including knives, razor blades and drugs - reaching detainees.

Justin said detainees would be on a hunger strike until they could be assured the frequency and ease of visits by family would not be affected.

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