Action on behalf of people detained on Christmas Island

In 2014 Maurice Blackburn commenced a pro bono class action for people who didn’t receive adequate care while in immigration detention on Christmas Island. Maurice Blackburn commenced this class action in order to assist a wide number of asylum seekers who suffered harm in detention, and to hold the Australian government accountable for failing to provide adequate care to these people.

On 27 March 2017 the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered that the proceeding no longer continue as a class action.

If you were a potential group member in this matter, please see the information below and the Notice to Group Members.

Maurice Blackburn continues to act for the plaintiff pro bono in this matter.

Information about the class action

The class action was for people who sought asylum and were injured or pregnant while in detention and suffered physical or psychological injury or the exacerbation of an injury due to the failure of the Commonwealth to provide adequate medical care.

Evidence given to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention revealed a systematic failure to provide detained asylum seekers with the health care that they required. We say there is no excuse for failing to provide basic health care to people in detention.

The plaintiff is a young girl who is seeking protection from persecution who was detained on Christmas Island. She is represented by her litigation guardian Sister Brigid Arthur and is known as ‘AS’ in order to protect her identity.

Group member:

A group member was defined as any person who:

  • has been in detention on Christmas Island from 27 August 2011 to 26 August 2014 inclusive (whether or not they have since been released from detention) (the relevant period); and
  • was injured and/or pregnant during the relevant period while in detention; and
  • has, during the relevant period, suffered an injury or an exacerbation of an injury as a result of the Australian government’s alleged failure to provide him, her or his or her parents with reasonable health care; and
  • has claimed that Australia owes him or her protection obligations under section 36 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

Decision that the proceeding no longer continue as a class action

On 27 March 2017, the Court ordered that the proceeding no longer continue as a class action. This means that the case will now only concern the lead plaintiff, ‘A.S.’, and cannot result in compensation for or determine the rights of any other person.

Any person who previously met the definition of a group member who wishes to claim compensation for injury suffered while detained on Christmas Island must now commence their own court proceedings.

Appeal rights

Individuals who were group members in the class action have the right to appeal the Court’s decision that the proceeding not continue as a class action. However, the time for commencing any such appeal expires on 24 May 2017.

If you think that you may wish to appeal, please contact us on 1800 286 052.

Who is affected?

The Court’s order affects every person who meets the group member definition set out above. If you think you are affected by the order, you should seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Time limits to bring individual claims

There are time limits to bring claims for compensation in Australia, so it is important that any person who wishes to make an individual claim seeks legal advice as soon as possible for this reason also.

More Information

If you have any questions or want further details about this matter case,  please see the Notice to Group Members (below), call 1800 286 052 or send an email to: christmasisland@mauriceblackburn.com.au.