In April 2011, there were several major disturbances at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). On 20 and 21 April, a total of nine buildings were set on fire and destroyed. The loss of amenities included the classroom, gym, medical centre and kitchen. Other protest activity included detainees demonstrating on the roof and threatening acts of self-harm. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) were called to the IDC and attempted to take control of the situation.
On the evening of 21 April 2011, the First Assistant Secretary of Detention Operations in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), on the advice of the AFP, decided to transfer 22 detainees suspected of involvement in the disturbances to the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC) at Silverwater. The transfer occurred in the early hours of 22 April 2011.
A representative of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties was the legal representative of the detainees transferred to the MRRC. In response to a complaint from the legal representative, the Ombudsman undertook an investigation to consider why the detainees were transferred and whether DIAC’s procedures had been properly followed in this instance.