A 46-year-old New Zealand man has died in an immigration detention centre in Melbourne.
Australian Border Force confirmed on Monday the man had died while being detained at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre but did not elaborate on the circumstances of his death.
“The matter has been referred for investigation to the appropriate agencies, including the Victorian coroner,” the department said in a statement.
“As this matter will be subject to ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”
Victoria police said the man’s death was not being treated as suspicious.
“Police will prepare a report for the coroner following the death of a man in a detention facility in Broadmeadows this morning,” a spokesman said.
In an interview with the ABC on Monday, the acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge, said the man has been in the process of being “evicted” from Australia.
“What I can confirm is that he was a person with a very serious criminal background and was being evicted from the country because of that criminal background,” Tudge said.
“But he has passed away, sadly. Obviously our condolences [go] to his family. But until there is a coroner’s report, I can’t give much more.”
The acting minister said any death was a concern.
“I have no information to suggest any protocol was broken. But, of course, there’s now a full coroner’s investigation into this - quite rightly - to determine the cause of death and any lessons.”
The ABF confirmed last week that some of the people currently in immigration detention would be “temporarily” transferred to Christmas Island, but Tudge said he did not believe the man was among that group.
The man’s death came on the same day the federal court ordered the release of a 68-year-old man from the same Melbourne detention centre.
The man, who had been detained since 2019, was in poor health and the court found he could be at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 in the detention facility.
Human rights organisations have called for the minister to comply with the court order.
“There are people seeking asylum at high risk of Covid-19 held in closed centres right across the country who also face unacceptable levels of risk of contracting Covid-19, as the federal court has found in this case,” the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s principal lawyer, Carolyn Graydon, said.
“It is time for the department to accept that the only responsible way to release the pressure of Covid-19 risks in our detention centres is to release people at high risk into the community.”
Graydon said that would allow them to take “self-protective measures” which they couldn’t while being held in a communal detention environment.