Former Nauru guard claims ‘nightmare’ conditions for workers

Asylum seekers at Nauru. Photo: Angela Wylie The tiny Pacific Island of Nauru is housing asylum seekers – who arrived by boat to Australia – in a processing centre. The Age. Photo: Angela Wylie. November 19 2012. Photo: Angela Wylie
Nanjing Night Net

A Brisbane-based former security guard at the Nauru immigration detention centre claims she was forced to work alongside a superior after she had lodged a sexual harassment claim against him.

Chenoah Rose, who worked for Wilson Security on Nauru between February 14, 2014, and February 1, 2015, said she lost her job after lodging her sexual harassment claim and suffering a “debilitating” injury at work.

Wilson Security is contracted by Transfield, the private firm that runs the detention centre, to provide security at the facility.

“Things over there are out of control. The culture is horrendous and that comes right from the top,” Ms Rose said.

“There’s a real problem with things being swept under the carpet, complaints from workers being ignored and issues that should have been fixed being left to deteriorate.”

Ms Rose said she lost her house, 23 weeks of wages and was nearly bankrupt as a result of her injury.

And the sexual harassment claim was also not dealt with, she said.

“After suffering sexual harassment from a superior, I notified Wilsons and provided screenshots in May 2014,” Ms Rose said.

“I was forced to keep working with the perpetrator and heard no more from Wilson about the issue until October 2014, after kicking up a fuss about it.

“The perpetrator has since been promoted. That’s the kind of culture we’re dealing with here.

“Bullying and sexual harassment is just rife, but there’s no one you can talk to and nowhere you can go to report it.

“The strain on workers is just huge.”

A spokeswoman for Wilson Security said the company would have to seek approval from Transfield before commenting, but was aware of the claims.

A United Voice union spokeswoman said Brisbane was the “point of hire” for Wilson Security’s offshore detention operations, with about 80 per cent of staff coming from the city.

United Voice co-ordinator Damien Davie said a survey of members who worked on both Nauru and Manus Island found 27 per cent had either experienced or witnessed bullying by management.

Mr Davie said it found 25 per cent believed Wilson had covered up or not acted upon incidents and 88 per cent thought they would be sacked if they spoke out.

“We’ve had many more workers, who don’t wish to be identified publicly, speak to us about similar issues, including the lack of workers’ compensation for workers, the prevalence of bullying and sexual harassment and a culture that encourages sweeping everything under the carpet and leaving it there,” he said.

“One of the challenges for us as a union is effectively advocating for our workers when it’s often so difficult to speak with them.

“We’re not allowed onto the islands, phone lines are often down, emails are monitored and Facebook is banned.

“It’s our firm belief that things in offshore detention can’t improve for workers or detainees unless something is done to break down the culture there, and its United Voice’s position that can’t happen until a new contractor takes over.”

Mr Rose said there were times when she was on the island that she was unable to speak to her four-year-old son for weeks.

“There were other workers who missed parents’ funerals because Wilson wouldn’t provide leave or didn’t arrange flights out in time,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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