Wilson Security on Campus: An Update

Lizzie are Dom are both members of the ANU’s Refugee Action Committee

On August 13, Woroni reported on the subcontract between Wilson Security and the Australian National University. As was revealed upon the Guardian’s publication of the ‘Nauru Files’ on August 12, employees of Wilson Security have been found guilty of the abuse of men, women and children whilst performing their function as security guards on Nauru, the Australian government-funded offshore refugee detention facility. Given the atrocious misconduct detailed within the 2000 leaked files, the widespread public outcry following their release was highly justified. National attention and support for Getup’s ‘No Business in Abuse’ campaign grew exponentially. Then, on September 1, Wilson Security announced its decision to discontinue operating on Nauru upon the end of its contract in 2017. A little over two weeks later, on September 19, Connect Settlement Services, another ‘welfare provider’ on the island, announced their decision to follow in the steps of Wilson. The decision of both companies was based off the Australian community’s response to the files, and should serve as an example of success to the sceptics who decry the effectiveness of people power in the modern era.

Despite the efforts of the ANU’s Refugee Action Committee (RAC), however, the Chancellery has maintained its position of apathy and inaction concerning its contract with Wilson Security.

On August 16, a motion was put to SRC condemning ANU’s employment of Wilson Security, which passed unanimously albeit one abstention. A month later, members of ANU RAC were successful in interrupting a televised Sky News press conference being held by Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton. Building on the momentum this action created, RAC held a protest on September 22 calling on ANU to boycott Wilson Security, with over a hundred staff and students attending. This event happened to coincide with Southern Cross University’s cancellation of its contract with Wilson Security, proving to us that the power to terminate such a contract exists within the university administration.

It is the conviction of the ANU Refugee Action Committee that actions on campus against Wilson Security will not stop until guilt is admitted and compensation is afforded to the victims who suffered at the hands of those employed by the company. Similarly, RAC’s demands to ANU administration remain steadfast. We demand that the contract with Wilson Security be terminated, but wish for those in non-managerial roles to maintain their jobs.

For members of the ANU community who would like to support our fight to bring attention to the plight of refugees illegally imprisoned in offshore detention by our government, please come to our upcoming event ‘Amps not Camps’, a night of music to raise money for the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services, which is being held at the Polish Club on October 21. Details for the event can be found on the RAC Facebook page.