Woroni has learned from leaked meeting minutes that Wilson Security, a subcontractor used by the Australian Government for detention centre security on Nauru and Manus Island, has “commenced the provision of guarding services” at the ANU on January 31, this year.
The minutes were leaked by an anonymous source close to the UniSafe Committee, who expressed concern that ANU is contracting a security provider alleged to have committed and covered up abuses in Australia’s offshore detention centres.
Reservations about ANU’s contracting of Wilson come amidst a recent Guardian leak of documents pertaining to the Nauru detention centre. They are currently accused of downgrading serious crimes perpetrated against asylum seekers in their reporting system, and withholding evidence of further abuses from Parliament.
The minutes, dated 15 March 2016, read: “The end result of the national tender for Security Guarding Services resulted in Wilson Security being awarded the contract for this service. On the 31 Jan 2016 SNP Security [ANU Security’s former contractors] completed their last shift at 0700; Wilson Security commenced the provision of guarding services from this point.”
“The transition was an accelerated process over a period of approximately 2 weeks, this lead to an accelerated learning curve for Wilson Security. The Wilson staff recruitment process resulted in around 30% of existing guards transitioning across to Wilson.”
Earlier in the minutes, it also noted that “many of the new staff are new to the security industry.”
Evidence of Wilson’s management of ANU Security can also be viewed publicly on the “Current Contracts” page in ANU’s official website. The end of their contract with the ANU is listed as June 30, 2019.
Associate Professor John Minns at the School of Politics and International Relations, who is heavily involved with Canberra’s Refugee Action Committee, expressed disappointment with the ANU for contracting Wilson.
He told Woroni, “the ANU has taken a strong stance against harassment and abuse on campus. But this is a company which is closely involved with a system of off-shore detention which has now been shown by international and domestic human rights bodies to be one of intense sexual and physical abuse of asylum seekers and refugees.”
His statement continued, “The ANU should consider its ethical position in relation to this company. It is likely that most students and staff at the ANU would reject a connection with a company which makes profits from an internationally reviled system of off-shore incarceration of people who have done nothing worse than ask for our help.”
When Woroni reached out to the Chancelry for a response to student and staff concerns, a spokesperson replied “the safety and security of staff, students and visitors to campus is the number one priority for the University.”
“ANU engaged the services of Wilson Security in late 2015 following a competitive tender process that required Wilson Security to meet the University’s stringent security standards and safety requirements. Wilson Security was engaged following appropriate due diligence checks.”
Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt was not available to comment given his absence overseas, and the ANU spokesperson directed Woroni to Wilson Security for any comment regarding its activities on Nauru and Manus Island.
Wilson was not able to provide comment in time for publication.