New Zealanders detained in Sydney go on hunger strike

  • 16/01/2018
Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney holds many Kiwis who are appealing visa cancellations.
Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney holds many Kiwis who are appealing visa cancellations. Photo credit: Reuters

New Zealanders detained at Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney are protesting the tightening of visitor policy rules by going on a hunger strike.

The centre holds many Kiwis, who are appealing visa cancellations.

From next Monday, visitors to the facility will need to apply online and will be asked about their criminal history.

Applications, which currently require 24 hours' notice, could take up to five business days to process.

Refugee Coalition Action spokesman Ian Rintoul told Newshub visitors would only find out when they arrived if their application had been successful.

"There's a series of very high bars being placed," he claimed. "There's a five-page document that visitors will have to fill out, including a lot of details about detainees that they may or may not know.

"It certainly seems like an invasion of privacy."

A spokesman for the Australian Border Force told RNZ the changes had been well communicated and were a result of an increase in contraband - such as knives and drugs - being brought into Villawood by visitors.

But Mr Rintoul insists that this is a case of a Government agency trying to justify its own existence.

"These enormous restrictions are going to play havoc with people's lives who are in the detention centres," he says. 

"It means they will be deprived of visits from relatives and family - there are already restrictions on food being challenged in the courts.

"Immediately, we just need those restrictions dropped. There are no overriding security concerns - Border Force has tried to dress these things up as necessary, but that's just a nonsense."

NZN