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SCU ditches security firm linked with detention centres

A March 21, 2014 file image of Asylum seekers staring at media from behind a fence at the Oscar compound in the Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea. PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says the Manus Island detention centre will close following a decision by the PNG Supreme Court that declared it to be unconstitutional, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AAP Image/Eoin Blackwell) NO ARCHIVING
A March 21, 2014 file image of Asylum seekers staring at media from behind a fence at the Oscar compound in the Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea. PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says the Manus Island detention centre will close following a decision by the PNG Supreme Court that declared it to be unconstitutional, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AAP Image/Eoin Blackwell) NO ARCHIVING EOIN BLACKWELL

SOUTHERN Cross University has replaced Wilson Security as its security contractor after community groups called on institutions to boycott the company, alleging it was complicit in human rights abuse at offshore detention centres.

SCU's executive director of Information and Physical Resources, Allan Morris, stated in an email last week: "Over the past few months SCU has been undertaking a process to tender, evaluate and award a new contract to provide Security Services for the Gold Coast, Lismore & NMSC Campuses."

MSS Security commenced as the new provider on Sunday.

"The majority of existing security staff will remain in their current roles and will undertake the same duties as currently provided by Wilson Security," Mr Morris said.

Wilson Security had provided security services to SCU for the past three years.

In March, East Lismore mum and TAFE teacher Melinda Marshall heeded calls from The No Business In Abuse campaign, promoted by GetUp, to investigate and lobby institutions using companies that she said were "complicit in human rights abuse".

The self-initiated investigations of Ms Marshall earlier this year found SCU was preparing to renew its security contract.

Ms Marshall believes it was community lobbying that influenced SCU's decision to decline to renew Wilson Security's contract.

"Southern Cross University has shown that it is an institution that we as a community can be truly proud of. It is the first university in Australia to have taken a stand on this issue," Ms Marshall said.

Wilson is a major subcontractor at the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.

"These are facilities that have been shown time and time again to violate the human rights of the men women and children in their care.

"SCU's brave decision shows that the days of brutal imprisonment of vulnerable people in the Pacific are well and truly numbered," Ms Marshall said.

"Our community has spoken and SCU listened. I think SCU deserves to be proud that it has made this stand and shown true leadership."

"It seems like no one wants to be associated with offshore detention any more. All around Australia institutions like local councils are saying enough is enough.

"Even Wilson Security itself is withdrawing from offshore detention. It has declared it won't renew its contract. But it won't withdraw for another year, and that is far too long to wait. Wilson needs to exit the camps now."

"Around Australia, ordinary people like us are calling for an end to the abuse that is happening on Nauru and Manus Island to people who have come to us fleeing for their lives and asking for our protection. Decisions like SCU's to ditch Wilson Security are adding to the pressure to bring them here to Australia now.

"Bit by bit, communities like ours are chipping away at the system and I hope and have to believe that change is coming and justice is coming for these people."



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