The Salvation Army has been tasked with observing detainees who may be showing signs of distress or mental health issues and referring them to the IHMS.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Major Paul Moulds, Salvation Army's Director of Social Programs
MOULDS: My observation is I think Australia is doing an amazing job in caring for these people under difficult circumstances. Certainly the facilities are still developing around but as I stand here today, I mean the ADF have been amazing, like they really come in and see a transformation of this site with new facilities going up. It is true people are under canvas. But you know the thing that I get actually being here, is that it's not what you're under that makes a home, it's not what you're under that makes security, it's actually the way you're treated, it's the fact you're free from persecution, it's the fact that you've got access to decent meals and things like that. And I have to say there is actually a good spirit in the camp and I'm just so proud of our people and the care that they're giving to the people that are in this place.
COUTTS: How many asylum seekers are in the camp on Nauru at the moment?
MOULDS: About 90-so, I wish I could think of that exact figure, but it's about 90 people that are here at the moment.
COUTTS: And have you spoken with any of them directly?
MOULDS: Absolutely, last night, I mean one of the key things about running a place like this or being involved in a place like this is actually listening to people, hearing their complaints, responding to their complaints, things about the sort of meals that are being provided, all those sort of things. So last night I went to a resident's meeting. I've been moving freely around the areas where the transferees are and had many, many conversations with them.
COUTTS: And what are some of the complaints and issues they're raising?
MOULDS: The little everyday things really about things that have been forgotten to provide for them, like mirrors to shave by and there's very small praise for the food that's being provided. Look just little things, we're still waiting for the power to be fully connected so that there can be some pans provided to them in their sleeping areas, things like that that are just the everyday things that obviously time has prevented, or everything being arranged, but I mean things are coming on board daily here.
COUTTS: How much longer before they'll be in permanent residence there?
MOULDS: That's something that I wish I could give you an accurate prediction on, I mean we're certainly asking the same questions. But I'm not sure what the answer to that question, you mean under buildings?
COUTTS: Permanent structures?
MOULDS: Yeah permanent structures yeah, yeah look there's contractors, I believe there's builders being contracted but that's something you'd have to talk to the department about around timelines and expectations on that. We're just trying to do the very best we can with this people group right at this time, and I must say that I'm just so happy with the way that I think all the providers; IHMS, Transfield and the Salvation Amy have just got to this task and doing the very best to care for these people. And can I say too there's many Nauruan people who have been employed from different contractors to deliver services, and they are just a beautiful people and are doing a wonderful job alongside of us.
COUTTS: And when they're under these permanent structures, what kind of accommodation will it be, will it be dormitory style accommodation? I'm just wondering about their privacy?
MOULDS: Look again I'd rather you talk to DIAC, I believe there's plans on that sort of thing, I'm not 100 per cent sure, I don't believe that everyone will have a single room, but I think that the rooms will be very habitable from the planning I've heard. But again you should really talk to DIAC about what their actual plans are for those structures.
COUTTS: And when will there be the next intake? When will the next detainees arrived, asylum seekers arrive?
MOULDS: Well I'm here in the tent now and I guess about an hours' time we're expecting that to happen.
COUTTS: How many in that next group do you know?
MOULDS: I think there's groups of around 30 or so coming in at a time, but that could change, we're expecting about that number.
COUTTS: Alright and women and children, none have arrived yet?
MOULDS: No that's correct.
COUTTS: So as far as you're concerned everyone's in good spirits at the moment?
MOULDS: Yes they are, and those that have shown signs of distress, I mean there's a quick response, we have clear protocols in place, IHMS have people on the ground, specialist people who can help in areas of mental health, obviously physical health is well catered for. So we've got some good protocols in place and have been responsive to those small group of people thus far that have shown signs of distress.