Australia | Call to Action for Australians

Post from Peter Fam · 2nd Human Rights Lawyer, Sydney

I was speaking to a fellow human rights lawyer from Japan last night. She asked me, “are they really transporting people into detention simply for being close contacts?”

I told her that it is even worse than that – that the judgment call on whether somebody should be taken to a quarantine facility is an arbitrary one, based on loose and dangerous criteria such as whether that person is ‘likely to cause a risk’ if they aren’t locked up.

It doesn’t matter if the ‘close contact’ tests negative, even multiple times (like most of Australia’s Covid measures, it’s not actually about whether people are sick, or contagious).

There is also no defined limit to the quarantine period. In NSW, where a personalised “public health order” lasts for 14 days, a new one can be issued ad hoc at the end of that period, again and again. I have spoken to people who were in quarantine for 2 months, despite repeatedly testing negative, and despite repeatedly suggesting alternative places they could isolate. One of these people, a young Sudanese mother who I am assisting with claims for false imprisonment and racial discrimination (arbitrary criteria such as ‘likely to cause a risk’ are a giant red flag for prejudicial decisions), attempted suicide during her stay.

Posted on 5 December 2021