Thursday, June 12, 2014

Salvation Army used Facebook to recruit detention centre support workers

Former Salvation Army support workers at Nauru and Manus detention centres told a Senate inquiry today they were recruited via advertisements on Facebook and did not receive training.

Nicole Judge and Chris Iacono told the Senate inquiry into the February riots at Manus Island detention centre they responded to advertisements on Facebook in September 2012.

Ms Judge wrote in her submission to the inquiry that she was "hired by the Salvation Army without interview or job training".

The Salvation Army used their Humanitarian Mission Services Facebook Page to recruit workers for Manus Island and Nauru processing centres.

An advertisement was posted on November 21 2013 inviting people interested in supporting asylum seekers to respond:

In response to queries posted about requisite qualifications, the administrator of the page wrote that "qualifications would depend on the type of support role and individual circumstances of the applicant".

The post included a 59 second video featuring a Salvation Army employee who stated "it's a once in a life-time opportunity.

"Conditions are tough in Nauru and with anything in life there are positives and negatives.  If anyone's interested in this program I would say go for it."

A longer video was posted on November 20 2013 featuring an HR employee, Phil Donnan, talking about conditions on Manus Island.

"It's hard, it's hot, it's humid and the conditions on the island are quite harsh, difficult and challenging,"Mr Donnan said in the video.

In their submission to the Senate inquiry, The Salvation Army stated "support worker roles typically do not require individuals to have particular skills or experience.

"The Salvation Army maintains that those employees who were engaged in this role were, at all times, adequately skilled to discharge the duties required."

According to The Salvation Army, the duties included providing "sport and recreation activities, facilitating computer and telephone access, operating the kiosks and the provision of basic needs for clients".

Mr Iacono and Ms Judge told the Senate inquiry they spent time talking with and counselling asylum seekers.

Ms Judge told the Senate inquiry "I honestly thought that going into this would be some kind of fun experience".

The Federal Government did not renew The Salvation Army's contract to provide support to asylum seekers following its expiration in February 2014.

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