Protest over Melb detention hotel outbreak

Supporters will gather at Melbourne's Park Hotel to protest the poor level of refugee healthcare.
Supporters will gather at Melbourne's Park Hotel to protest the poor level of refugee healthcare.

Protesters will rally outside a Melbourne hotel being used to detain refugees after a COVID-19 outbreak escalated, with more than one-third of those in detention testing positive for coronavirus.

On Friday the Australian Border Force confirmed 15 detainees at the Park Hotel, which is being used as an alternative place of detention, have tested positive.

Another 28 refugees have tested negative and three were awaiting results as of Friday, the ABF said.

However, the Refugee Action Coalition says an Iraqi refugee recently tested positive, bringing the number of cases among detainees to 16.

All of the refugees have been told to quarantine in their rooms to reduce the risk of transmission.

Police have given permission for protesters to gather in separated groups of 15

Refugee supporters will gather outside the Park Hotel from 2pm on Saturday to protest the level of healthcare being given to detainees, and to call for them to be removed from detention.

"The health of many refugees is deteriorating but no refugees have been seen by a doctor in person in the hotel. Only one nurse is on duty at the hotel and only during daytime," Refugee Action Collective Victoria's Chris Breen said in a statement.

"Many refugees have health conditions that make them especially vulnerable.

"We are calling to free the refugees, for the hotel to be immediately evacuated, for those with COVID-19 to be assessed by doctors and transferred to appropriate facilities, and for those residents who are negative to be transferred to ordinary hotel quarantine for their own safety."

Mr Breen said one refugee was in hospital on oxygen and had requested a vaccine "but was twice turned away from appointments and told his name was not on the list".

The RAC said the rally will be COVID-safe, with all participants required to follow directions, wear masks and check in with QR codes.

The ABF has not confirmed the vaccination status of those at the hotel, but said within the Immigration Detention Network 62 per cent of had received one vaccine dose and 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.

"All detainees in immigration detention facilities have been offered COVID-19 vaccinations," it said.

A number of people will speak at the rally, including a refugee detained inside the hotel who will speak via phone and Victorian Greens justice and health spokesperson Tim Read MP.

AAP has contacted the ABF for a response.

Australian Associated Press