A guard working in the Australian-backed detention centre on Nauru made false allegations of sexual assault against a 17-year-old asylum seeker, only for a police investigation to find the relationship had been consensual, a parliamentary inquiry has heard this morning.
The staff member was subsequently terminated for conduct described by a Wilson manager as “completely inappropriate”.
The incident was revealed today at the ongoing Senate Inquiry into the detention centre, at which staff from the private firms contracted to deliver services on the island were pushed to explain high rates of sexual assault and child abuse in the facility.
John Rodgers, Executive General Manger of Wilson Security’s South Pacific operations, confirmed to the Inquiry there had been 11 Wilson staff or subcontracted employees dismissed for inappropriate conduct, including assaults on children, the use of threatening language, and a falsified sexual assault accusation.
Rodgers told Senators that a female employee had her job terminated after making false allegations against a minor in the centre.
“A locally employed female subcontract staff member had an inappropriate physical relationship with a 17-year-old transferee,” he confirmed.
“That was actually reported by [the staff member]as an indecent assault by the transferee and it was reported to the Nauruan Police Force.
“Fortunately, the Nauruan Police Force investigated and determined that it was completely consensual. [The staff member’s] conduct was completely inappropriate and unacceptable and she was terminated.”
Rodgers also gave details about other incidents resulting in staff terminations. One Wilson staff member was fired after smacking a child on the bottom during a bus ride, while another was barred from returning to the centre after striking a child.
Evidence provided earlier to the Inquiry by lead contractor Transfield Services revealed the majority of complaints made by asylum seekers against staff relate to Wilson employees.
Wilson management defended the company’s record in the centre, and said the company had acted “entirely appropriately” in dealing with incidents and allegations of abuse, which were described as “isolated incidents”.
Wilson staff also responded to allegations that children in the centre had begun identifying with their boat number more closely than their names after guards refused to call them by name.
They told the Inquiry Committee incidents where this had occurred were counter to official Wilson policy.
Wilson found itself on the defence earlier when an employee made an anonymous submission to the Inquiry alleging staff from the company had spied on Senator Sarah-Hanson Young when she visited the island in December 2013.
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