PIAC seeks information for potential handcuffing class action

PIAC is seeking information from people who have been handcuffed while being held in Australian onshore immigration detention for a potential class action lawsuit.

PIAC recently brought a landmark test case against the Commonwealth and its security contractor, Serco, on behalf of Yasir*, an asylum seeker who was handcuffed while in immigration detention. The case settled before the trial was heard in the Federal Court.

PIAC is now investigating a class action challenging the use of handcuffs on others who have been detained in Australian immigration detention like Yasir.

‘The experience of our clients and findings by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Commonwealth Ombudsman indicate there is widespread and on-going misuse of handcuffs in immigration detention,’ PIAC Senior Solicitor Grace Gooley said.

‘We believe handcuffs are routinely and inhumanely used when detainees attend medical appointments offsite and during transfers between immigration detention centres.  We would like to understand other people’s experiences of handcuffing in immigration detention to assist us to investigate a potential class action lawsuit.’

‘The routine use of handcuffs in immigration detention is unacceptable and often deters detainees from accessing necessary medical care. This is particularly so as many people seeking asylum have a history of torture or trauma. The community should be confident that immigration detention staff are only using handcuffs as a last resort when absolutely necessary.’

We want to hear from people who were handcuffed while detained in Australian immigration detention in:

  • in Western Australia (including Christmas Island) or the Northern Territory, at any time from 2021 until now; or
  • in any other state or territory of Australia, at any time from 2018 until now.

Current or former detainees in those categories are invited to fill out a short online survey detailing their experiences.

Please share this information and survey with any individuals or organisations that may be interested.


Grace Gooley, Senior Solicitor, Asylum Seeker Rights Lead

Phone: +61 2 8898 6554

Email: [email protected]

*Name changed to protect anonymity.

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Towards Truth is a partnership between PIAC and UNSW Indigenous Law Centre.
Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes settled a dispute over a 'humiliating and distressing' experience.
We secured a settlement for our client Yasir* who alleges he was forced to wear handcuffs to access healthcare.

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