An Immigration detainee was served food containing maggots and told they could not have a replacement meal because they were “just eating vegetables”.
An ombudsman’s report on Australia’s treatment of immigrant detainees drew the Home Office out and found that the use of hotels as reception facilities made it much more difficult to guarantee basic human rights.
A detainee at Melbourne’s Park Hotel – where tennis champion Novak Djokovic was held before his eviction last year – complained when they found maggots in their food, but was effectively told to eat it anyway.
“It was clear that there was insufficient awareness of the importance of the contaminated food and how important it is that people in detention have confidence in the quality and safety of the food provided,” said the ombudsman.
“The staff advised us at the time of the incident, finding an alternative was not considered by the staff because the maggots were ‘just on the vegetables’.”
The food was cooked by the hotel staff, with no risk of contamination incidents.
The ombudsman made 18 recommendations, noting that several had been made before but ignored.
One of those recommendations was to keep detainees in hotels for no longer than four weeks.
“Our visits to hotel (detention) have shown time and time again that (they) are not suitable for housing people in immigration detention for a longer period of time,” said the ombudsman.
“It is difficult for these facilities to meet basic human rights standards for housing people in immigration detention, including appropriate access to fresh air, exercise and other programs and activities.”
The ombudsman also recommended reducing the number of people in detention, improving the use of mechanical restraints and refining the complaints management system.
The Australian Border Force, which runs the detention network, has been contacted for comment.
The agency has previously denied the maggot-infested food incident and insisted that staff followed food standards.