Information lockdown

The Yongah Hill detention centre.
The Yongah Hill detention centre.

Mr Pollard said he did not understand how the men got over three fences and overcame the heavy surveillance at the centre.

‘They’ve gone over an ‘unscalable fence’, so I can understand why people in the community are uneasy ” I’m uneasy too,’ he said.

He said the escape also sparked concerns about the conditions in the centre and the waiting period for asylum seeker processing.

‘If you are next in line for a visa you are not going to climb a fence,’ he said.

A community reference group meeting about the detention centre was held in Northam on Thursday.

Mr Pollard said he wanted to see more communication from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) about what was happening at the centre.

‘I’m mostly in the dark about the asylum seekers ” I’m being fed slightly more information than residents,’ he said.

Central Wheatbelt MLA Mia Davies said she found it difficult to obtain information from the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship’s office.

‘I was told ‘sorry, we don’t have any information’, which I find offensive,’ she said.

DIAC spokesman Steve Biddle said the refugee assessment process would be compromised if the identity of a detainee was revealed. Four of the detainees were recaptured in bushland near Bakers Hill on Wednesday.

Mr Biddle confirmed there had been at least one previous serious escape attempt from Yongah Hill.

‘But most clients enjoy being there and are positively engaged,’ he said.

Ash Dixon, regional manager at security firm Serco which administers the centre, said all security systems, including electric fences, were operational and staff levels were more than adequate at Yongah Hill at the time of the escape.