The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has established a Child Protection Panel to provide independent advice on child protection in immigration detention and regional processing centres (RPCs) and four additional Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers will travel to Nauru to advise local police.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the establishment of the Panel and the dispatch of additional AFP officers to Nauru was partly in response to the recent Moss Review into allegations at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre.
"As I indicated at the time, prior to the release of the Moss Review I directed the Secretary to take an even more active role in responding to allegations than was recommended by Mr Moss," Mr Dutton said.
"The Department is progressing all of the recommendations of the Moss Review and I'm pleased that I can announce it is undertaking this additional work to examine the adequacy and appropriateness of the responses of the Department and its service providers to allegations of abuse involving a child."
Two AFP investigators with extensive experience in investigating allegations of sexual assault will provide valuable advice to the Nauru Police Force (NPF) in the management of sexual assault investigations.
The other two AFP members, at the request of the NPF, will provide guidance and advice in relation to the allegations of public disorder occurring in February and March 2015.
In agreement with the Government of Nauru, the four additional AFP officers will deploy as advisors to the NPF only and will not exercise Nauruan policing powers. The total AFP commitment in support of the NPF now totals six officers.
The Child Protection Panel consists of three highly skilled and independent individuals in the fields of law enforcement, child protection and public sector accountability.
It will work to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure the ongoing safety and welfare of children in immigration detention and RPCs and will advise the Secretary on the response of the Department and its service providers in relation to their child protection frameworks.
The Panel’s work will include reviewing allegations back to 2008 to ensure they have been handled appropriately by the Department and service providers.
Mr Dutton said the members of the Panel were chosen carefully, ensuring they have the necessary skills and experience to oversee such an important task.
"The Government takes seriously the need to protect children who are in immigration detention from any abuse, neglect or exploitation and to assist the Government of Nauru to protect children in the Nauru RPC," Mr Dutton said.
"I am confident that Departmental and service provider staff members always have the best interests of children at heart but, there are always opportunities to strengthen the tools and processes in place to adequately record, monitor and follow up these sorts of allegations.
"The Australian Government is committed to maintaining the safety of transferees in Regional Processing Centres and also refugees in the Nauruan community."
The terms of reference for the Panel will be published on the Department’s website: http://www.immi.gov.au/about/dept-info/panel.htm.
John Lawler AM APM
Mr John Lawler AM APM is a 34 year career law enforcement officer who served from 2009 to 2013 as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) before retiring in October 2013.
He previously served for 29 years with the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Mr Lawler has extensive experience in a wide range of law enforcement disciplines performing roles at the local, national and international levels including Community Policing, Investigations, Protection, Intelligence, International Operations and Executive Services.
He was Director of Internal Security and Audit performing the critical oversight role of the AFP's internal security activities.
As Chief Executive Officer of the ACC and a member of the ACC board, Mr Lawler has strong relationships with State and Territory Police Commissioners, State Police Ministers and key State and Territory Departments including the Commissioners of Corrections.
Since retiring he Mr Lawler has established a consultancy conducting investigations, reviews, assessments and assurance for government and the private sector. In addition he provides mentoring to senior law enforcement executives.
Margaret Allison was previously the Director-General of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services in Queensland and currently sits on the Queensland Police Service Board of Management.
Since retiring in 2013, Ms Allison has established a consultancy specialising in organisational strategy and leadership of change, strategic organisational reviews, executive team performance, and performance management.
She will bring to the Panel extensive legal, change management, and leadership experience, shown during her last major review: A report into matters within Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, completed in December 2014.
Dominic Downie has a 35 year career in in the Australian Public Service and associated authorities with significant roles including in the design of the APS capability framework.
He was a Senior Executive for 16 years - six years at the SES Band 2 level.
During his career he has worked in both service delivery and central policy agencies. Key roles included Assistant Commissioner in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and Head of the Corporate Development Division of the Health Insurance Commission.
Mr Downie now specialises in the development of capability frameworks, business planning, evaluations and performance audits, functional reviews, the development of governance structures and workforce planning, development and innovation.
He is the Director and Board Chair of a not-for-profit organisation working in the Disability Services Sector.