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After-incident support for survivors, residents and Commonwealth officers
This chapter examines the after-incident support provided for survivors,
Christmas Island residents and Commonwealth officers.
Given the traumatic events of 15 December 2010, it is
important to establish what support was provided to survivors, volunteers and
officers, and whether this support was appropriate to the needs of these three
First the committee examines the immediate support provided to survivors
on the day of the tragedy and the ongoing support provided to the present day.
Second the committee considers the support provided to the residents of
Christmas Island. Finally the committee outlines the support provided to
personnel from the Customs, the AFP, the ADF, and staff and contractors working
for the DIAC.
Having reviewed the evidence, the committee's view is that appropriate
care and support has been provided to all three groups.
After incident support for survivors
The committee considered the after-incident support provided to
survivors on 15 December 2010 and afterwards. As discussed in Chapter 3, the
experiences of the survivors of the tragedy were harrowing.
Support was provided by a number of different organisations. Government
organisations include DIAC (with contractors Serco and International Health and
Medical Services (IHMS)), the AFP and the Indian Ocean Territories Health
Service (IOTHS). Support was also provided by organisations such as the Australian
Red Cross, the Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) and
Asylum Seekers Christmas Island (ASCI).
As discussed earlier in the report, there were 42 confirmed survivors
from the SIEV 221. DIAC has advised the committee that 27 are from Iran, seven
from Iraq, five identified themselves as stateless and three are from
Indonesia. The survivor group is comprised of 22 adult males, nine adult
females, seven male minors and four female minors. DIAC advised the two men who
initially identified themselves as adults subsequently claimed to be minors.
Support provided to survivors on 15
Immediate medical support was provided at Rocky Point and Ethel Beach by
medical and operational personnel as part of the Christmas Island Emergency
Response. Subsequent support was provided at the Christmas Island Hospital,
Perth Hospital, and in detention, all of which is described later in this
One survivor made his way to the shore at Rocky Point and received
medical treatment at that location.
The remaining survivors were taken to Ethel Beach, which was the closest
location at which survivors could be transferred ashore, where the IOTHS had
established a triage process. This involved assessing the immediate health
needs of the survivors, before transfer to the Christmas Island Hospital. DIAC,
Customs and AFP officers assisted in this process, as well as DIAC's contracted
service providers, IHMS and Serco.
DIAC, through Serco, provided blankets, food, clothing and other
supplies at Ethel Beach to meet the immediate needs of survivors. DIAC also
ensured that interpreters were placed at Rocky Point, Ethel Beach and the
hospital. Vehicles we made available to medical and emergency workers to
transport survivors to the hospital.
Following medical assessment, two female survivors were flown to Perth on the
evening of 15 December 2010.
As part of the Christmas Island Emergency Response Plan, individuals
from many organisations provided assistance. During hearings on Christmas
Island, the committee heard first person accounts of the assistance that was
provided to survivors.
Serco Operations Director, Mr Ian Southerton, described to the
committee the action that he took that morning, after seeing the wreckage at
I made my way to Ethel Beach. I had to park my car some way
away from where the triage centre was being set up. I walked down, and it was
literally an all-hands-on-deck effort to assist the other agencies. We assisted
IHMS setting up the tents, we assisted DIAC, I called the centre, we brought
food, we brought refreshments—not for just staff but for the survivors. We
brought blankets, towels, clothing for all ages. We assisted to get the site
set up and we were just very clear as to what we needed to do with all our
colleagues from other agencies. I think there were eight colleagues of mine
from the sites who came down and then we started to assist the police to bring
the survivors and the deceased ashore when they arrived. We would literally
receive them from Customs, walk them up the jetty and then they would be handed
to IHMS services for them to undertake the triaging.
Community spirit here was just outstanding. I have never
quite experienced anything like it. It really was outstanding. 
Dr Ying Loong, Area Medical Director, IHMS, told the committee what
action she took after arriving at Rocky Point that morning:
Customs said they could offload those people picked up from
the sea at Ethel Beach. I went back to Phosphate Construction Camp and got our
responder bag and what we thought we would need for all the survivors. We
fronted up at Ethel Beach. The top of the beach was already in the process of
being prepared for receiving the wounded. There were red tents, yellow tents
and green tents. I had two doctors with me, two paramedics and about six
nurses. Dr Julie [Graham, IOTHS] and I got together and we decided what we were
going to do. We were going to send some doctors to the hospital to receive the
wounded who were going to be transported there. The Navy also wanted a doctor
on their boat to look after those people they had picked up from the sea. So I
deployed a doctor, a paramedic and a nurse to go with Dr Gary Mitchell on the
RHIB to the Navy boat to look after those people who had already been picked up
by the boat but had not yet been brought onshore.
Throughout the day, we received all the people transported to
the beach. Bear in mind that the sea was really rough and that people were
putting their lives in danger to pick up those asylum seekers. During the day,
dead bodies were being brought out. They were not enough body bags, so they
were wrapped in black plastic. After everybody, as well as the dead bodies, had
been brought up, we went to the hospital to check on all the people who had
been processed. It was not until about seven o'clock that everything was
The evidence before the committee indicates that people from many
different agencies worked together to provide support for survivors. Dr Julie
Graham, IOTHS, explained to the committee why the response to the tragedy was
[T]he team work comes about from the health service having an
external emergency plan, which had actually been updated about two months prior
to the incident. That incorporated IHMS into our plan to provide increased
capacity to deal with any emergency that happened on the island. We are a
remote isolated island with limited resources and anyone has the understanding
that if there is an emergency on this island we will be overwhelmed fairly
quickly. So it was pleasing on that day that the response plan actually came
together and the teams worked together to provide the best possible outcome on
what was an horrific day.
DIAC established an information line to receive calls from people who
had information or concerns relating to people on board the SIEV 221. This
hotline operated initially 24 hours a day, and was scaled back to business
hours at a later date. The service ceased on 13 January 2011. DIAC received
over 950 calls. Where a caller was matched to a survivor, this information was
provided to the survivor.
The committee now turns to the support provided to the survivors
after 15 December 2010.
Support provided following 15
The committee also considered the support provided to survivors in the
period following the day of the tragedy. The committee examined the
accommodation of survivors, professional support provided, communication,
special arrangements for orphans and memorial services.
Counselling and other professional
DIAC regularly sought professional advice in relation to the type of
care needed by the survivors. DIAC also made arrangements to ensure that
counselling services were available to survivors.
DIAC engaged Recovre, an external crisis management specialist trauma
team to assist IHMS in meeting the immediate needs of survivors.
DIAC advised the committee that:
The Recovre crisis management specialist trauma team provided
regular updates to departmental staff on Christmas Island regarding the
progress of the affected children, as well as case reports for individuals affected
by the tragedy and recommendations for management of the group. IHMS also
provided the Department with regular advice around the support being provided
to the survivors on Christmas Island, and recommendations around the short and
long-term care requirements of the group.
A team of five psychologists was sent to Christmas Island on
16 December 2010. The team provided trauma support to the survivors
and assisted in managing their immediate needs.
The counsellors worked very long hours to ensure that the survivors
could access the care that they required, particularly in the days following
the tragedy. Dr Ling Yoong described to the committee the counselling
services that were provided to survivors the day after the tragedy:
The next day, the mental health team dealt with a lot of the
trauma and, on the evening of the 16th, the psychologists arrived—four of them.
I debriefed them on what had happened—they were also debriefed in the morning
by my mental health team—and they got right into it and looked after all those
people who had been traumatised. Throughout the day, we dealt with the medical
issues and the psychologists dealt with the psychological trauma. In the
evening, the psychologists came and debriefed me on what had happened during
the day. What they recognised was that the most vulnerable period was around
five o'clock in the morning, so they were out in the compound at 5 am to deal
with all those people who were awake and needing someone to talk to. There was
a shortage of interpreters, but we managed to get interpreters for the
psychologists to enable them to deal with those trauma cases.
The committee asked whether there were sufficient resources available on
Christmas Island to provide appropriate support to the survivors. Dr Yoong
advised the committee:
We were really stretched but I think everybody really got
into it and provided the care that these people needed. That includes all the
volunteers on the island and the people in the hospital. We could not have
asked for a better group of people during that crisis, because it was just
Ms Fiona Andrew acknowledged that interpreters were in high demand, but
confirmed that additional interpreters had been brought in to assist the
I recall there were additional interpreters brought on the
island. Interpreters are always a highly sought after commodity throughout
Australia, not just by immigration, but there are never enough. We did bring in
extra interpreters, but there are always shortfalls.
DIAC advised that all survivors who were affected by the incident
(either directly or indirectly) were reviewed by the IHMS mental health team.
Those survivors who required further assistance were seen by visiting
Counselling services were also made available to the six survivors on
DIAC sought specialist advice from psychiatrist Dr Stephen Fenner, who
visited Christmas Island a number of times in January 2011. Dr Fenner provided
clinical assessment and support for the survivors. As a result of this work, Dr
Fenner provided DIAC with recommendations about management of the survivors:
His initial recommendation was for the survivors to be kept
together in their natural family and support groupings, and for affected
clients to be given the opportunity to visit the wreck site to assist in
resolving their grief. His subsequent recommendations were for the survivors to
be moved to the mainland as soon as they had been provided with the opportunity
to visit the wreck site and funerals for the deceased had taken place.
DIAC sought formal advice from IHMS in relation to the anticipated
medical and health requirements of individual survivors. This information was
required to assist DIAC to make long-term placement decisions. The placement
report was provided to DIAC on 17 February 2011.
The committee considers that DIAC sought out regular professional advice
as to the best care to be provided to survivors, and provided appropriate
counselling support services. In the next section the committee discusses how
survivors were accommodated following the tragedy.
Initial accommodation and care of
DIAC advised the committee that its priority was 'to address the
immediate health and support needs of the survivors'.
DIAC received medical advice that the survivor group should be co-located. This
would provide emotional support and allow the development of family and other support
The majority of survivors were transferred to Phosphate Hill Alpha compound, a
low security facility on Christmas Island.
Some close family members who were already in immigration detention on
Christmas Island, and others who arrived subsequently, were placed with the
survivors. DIAC advised that regular visits were arranged with other extended
family members who were also detained on Christmas Island.
The committee was informed that special arrangements were made to ensure
the survivors received highly targeted support. To this end, Serco staff and DIAC
case managers were flown in especially to assist the survivors. Mr Southerton
described other measures that were taken to support the survivors:
I think what was different was that there was a much higher
staff concentration to deal with that particular group of clients, based on
their needs. For instance, we provide programs and activities, but that had to
be slightly different because it was very difficult for those clients to
engage, given how traumatised they were. It would not have been appropriate to
have gone in with a full program of scheduled activities. We purchased toys and
colouring books and so on for the children to act as a distraction for them,
because they were clearly upset. We focused as much as we could on their
emotional needs, given how traumatised they were. The children, for instance,
were crying and may have needed a cuddle from somebody. It was as basic as
Mr Southerton emphasised that the approach Serco took in caring for the
survivors occurred in the context of regular consultation with DIAC.
Everything that we do has to be approved by DIAC. That is a
contractual obligation...I have to say that there is a very productive working
relationship with DIAC and, certainly, it was very much a joint approach—as it
always is with everything that we do here. That is entirely appropriate,
because we are accountable to DIAC.
In addition to the two female survivors who were transferred to Perth on
the evening of 15 December 2010:
three male survivors were transferred on a DIAC charter flight to
Perth on 16 December 2010; and
a male survivor was flown to Perth early on 18 December 2010.
CARAD contacted DIAC and offered to provide support to survivors at
Perth Hospital. DIAC agreed to this request. CARAD described the care that it
provided in its submission:
CARAD established a roster of volunteers to visit and provide
necessary support and essential items to people in hospital and the IDC. We
were assured by a senior DIAC manager that CARAD was welcome to visit these
places and that he would convey this to Serco.
During the first Canberra hearing CARAD elaborated on the care that it
provided to survivors in Perth, and the occasions where it raised concerns with
DIAC on behalf of the survivors. Ms Rosemary Hudson Miller told the committee
that when concerns were raised, the issue was generally resolved promptly by
Following treatment and discharge from hospital, these six survivors were
accommodated in alternative places of detention in Perth.
Arrangements for orphaned survivors
DIAC advised that the three children who were orphaned by the tragedy
were placed with family members who took on a parenting role. Medical
professionals assessed the adult family members as suitable. The families of
the orphans in their home countries agreed with the arrangements.
DIAC advised the committee that it received advice from IHMS soon after
the tragedy that all the children survivors were recovering well. Despite the
tragic circumstances, the children were socialising normally and had adapted
well to their new surroundings.
The committee received evidence during the Canberra hearing that raised
concerns about the arrangements put in place for the orphans.
Ms Michelle Dimasi, Asylum Seekers Christmas Island, submitted that
when she visited survivors in the aftermath of the tragedy, one of the orphaned
children believed that his parents were still alive. This issue was also reported
in the media. Ms Dimasi inferred that this 'raises questions about what type of
counselling and support they are being given' and had twice raised the matter
in writing with the Department and received no reply.
Given the vulnerability of the orphaned survivors, the committee considered
this issue closely.
During the second Canberra hearing, Ms Fiona Andrew advised the
committee that DIAC consulted with psychologists in IHMS about how the death of
the parents should be communicated:
The view was that it should be the family members that should
tell him. I am aware that there was some delay; that they could not actually
bring themselves to tell him that.
The committee is satisfied that this decision was open to DIAC to make,
in consultation with IHMS, and that DIAC acted reasonably and on the best
available advice. The committee notes that the aunt of one orphan arrived on
Christmas Island on 20 December 2010, which would have contributed to the delay.
The children were provided with ongoing counselling. As discussed above,
a psychiatrist visited Christmas Island in February 2011. The psychiatrist
reviewed and provided advice in relation to the long-term care arrangements for
the three orphaned children.
These recommendations were followed by DIAC.
Having considered all the evidence, the committee is satisfied that DIAC
took particular care to accommodate the special needs of the three orphaned
children who survived the tragedy.
AFP and DIAC formal processing of
DIAC immigration processing for survivors was conducted concurrent with AFP
investigations. The committee received evidence that DIAC and the AFP managed
these processes sensitively to accommodate the needs of survivors.
DIAC advised that survivors were subject to standard identity and
security checking, and that asylum claims are being assessed in line with
arrangements for all irregular maritime arrivals. DIAC assured the committee
that this process has been conducted sensitively, ensuring that appropriate
support arrangements were in place.
When asked whether survivors were treated any differently to other asylum
seekers, Mr John Moorhouse, Deputy Secretary DIAC, explained the approach:
I guess I would answer that in two ways. In terms of the
assessment that would be made, the answer to that is no. The assessment we make
in relation to a person's refugee status is based on specific criteria and that
would be no different to the assessment that would be made for anyone else. In
terms of the actual handling of their applications, the answer to that would
be, yes. We would, of course, want to take into account the particular
circumstances, the vulnerability and the sensitivity and therefore make sure
their cases were handled with appropriate sensitivity. But also in cases where
people are particularly vulnerable or have been through trauma, we will
expedite their applications and ensure that their applications are dealt with
promptly and that will be the same in any immigration caseload. We try to
process applications in a logical and appropriate way, but if there are
particular compassionate or other compelling circumstances that might result in
an application being assessed ahead of others. There is a delicate balance that
we do in that area. We do not want to disadvantage people but we do want to
take account of people's circumstances.
My answer to the question is, yes, they would have been
handled in a slightly different way, in a more sensitive way and, hopefully,
given priority. But that would be something that we would do across any type of
The AFP advised that it worked closely with DIAC, and provided after
incident support to survivors during the witness interviews and the Disaster Victim Identification
(DVI) process. The AFP commenced interviewing survivors on 16 December
The AFP told the committee during the Canberra hearing that children were not
[I]n consultation with the Western Australia Police, who had
the lead in collecting information for the Western Australian coroner, we
arrived at the decision that we would not interview anyone under 17 years of
age. We felt it was too traumatic.
The committee heard that when conducting witness interviews the AFP
the statement was obtained in the presence of an interpreter and
the interview was undertaken in private;
the witness was given time to reflect and grieve if necessary;
where appropriate, a DVI form was completed for a deceased
relative or friend; and
access to a DIAC psychologist was available if required.
The AFP described the process that was followed which involved survivors
in visual identification of the deceased as part of the DVI process. The AFP
officers ensured that
the identification process was explained;
only the deceased's face was visible;
the survivor was accompanied by a friend, welfare officer or
psychologist during the process;
the survivor was given time to grieve with the deceased as
the survivor was asked for their preference as to where the
deceased should be buried; and
a DNA sample was taken where necessary.
DIAC advised that IHMS staff were available to survivors 'at all hours'
to provide psychological support following the DVI process.
CARAD raised concerns in its submission and during the Canberra hearing
that one AFP witness interview of parents who had lost a child in the tragedy
went for 12 hours.
The committee raised this directly with the AFP, and was assured by Mr Andrew
Colvin that no interview went for 12 hours:
[T]he interviewing of any victim in a circumstance like this
is never a straightforward and easy process. After I saw the CARAD submission,
I obviously made inquiries into the claim of 12 hours. I assure the committee that
we did not interview these people for 12 hours. What I understand occurred with
a number of people over a number of days was witnesses who were prepared to
talk to us for a start were brought into our police headquarters and over a
lengthy period we gave them the opportunity to speak to us, to provide
statements. Certainly it was not a 12-hour interrogation, if you like. It was a
12-hour period where they were afforded all sorts of breaks, opportunities to
stop talking to us and do something else. Obviously they were given food in
terms of their religious tolerances. All of it was done in a very controlled
manner in terms of ensuring their medical condition and their mental state. As
I said in my introductory comments, at all points they were voluntary. We kept
checking the voluntary nature, as we did with all the witnesses, not just the
ones referred to in the submission, and we checked they were happy to continue.
In any instance where anyone gave us the slightest inclination that it was too
traumatic or too stressful we stopped the process. That is why for some people
it took two, three or four days to get the information.
As I said, sometimes this is a thankless task from the police
because we need to identify bodies and establish as quickly as we can what
happened. I assure the committee that we did it in the absolutely most
sensitive manner that we could. We are as concerned and distressed to see
inferences that we did not do that.
In relation to the particular survivors referred to in CARAD's submission,
Mr Colvin advised that
[A]t no point did that couple who tragically lost one of
their children say that they wanted us to stop the process. In fact, someone
else spoke to the supervisor who oversighted it. While they were distressed,
absolutely, they were happy to continue. We gave them as many breaks and
opportunities to reflect on the tragedy as they needed. So this concerns me. I
am sure that, in making that submission, CARAD were relaying comments that were
made to them. I am not disputing that in any way at all. I guess I am just
saying to the committee that the AFP are very conscious of this and we did
everything as sensitively as we possibly could.
CARAD also submitted that some of the survivors it assisted in Perth did
not understand the DIAC and AFP interviewing process.
DIAC acknowledged that many of the survivors were 'interviewed out' and
struggled to understand the significance of some of the interviews they
participated it. Ms Andrew advised the committee that special efforts were made
to communicate the formal processes to survivors:
[O]ur case manager spent a bit of time trying to explain the
process through. We were very aware that they had undergone a number of
interviews with the police and we were conscious that we were commencing entry
interviews, followed shortly thereafter by refugee status assessment
interviews. We had to spend some time with them and explain the whole process,
which we did, and we also had to clarify, to some extent, the part of the
process that they would have undergone had they arrived normally on Christmas
Island rather than under the tragic circumstances that they did. We did spend
some time going through the processes with them. We were very conscious, as I
think I mentioned earlier, that they had been interviewed out.
The committee notes that Ms Andrew was responsible for detention
arrangements on Christmas Island. The committee has not received evidence about
DIAC's communication processes with the survivors who were based initially in
The committee inquired about the arrangements for the return of property
to the survivors. DIAC explained that all property seized was placed in AFP
custody until it was released to DIAC and returned to survivors, once they were
in community detention:
The AFP, following the funerals, released that property into
DIAC. We made arrangements to have that property sent. They were already in
community detention at that stage so we made arrangements for that property to
be delivered to those people who were in community detention.
DIAC acknowledged that the survivors repeatedly asked for access for the
property while on Christmas Island, and many struggled to understand the
reasons why the property was being retained by the AFP for a period of time.
DIAC advised that it did its best to explain to the survivors that the property
would be eventually returned. DIAC advised the committee that all property that
was collected has now been returned to survivors, and relatives of the
In light of the evidence provided to this inquiry, the committee is
satisfied that the AFP and DIAC made considerable efforts to ensure that formal
interactions with survivors were conducted in an appropriate and sensitive way,
and where misunderstandings occurred, they were clarified in a timely way.
Funeral and memorial services
DIAC arranged for a memorial service to be held shortly after the
tragedy, and for relatives of the deceased to attend a funeral services in
DIAC arranged for a memorial service to be held on 19 December 2010 at
Phosphate Hill for the deceased victims from SIEV 221. DIAC estimates that 130
people attended the service, including survivors, other detainees, DIAC and
Serco staff and Christmas Island community members. Prayer sessions were also
held at the Construction Camp Alternative Place of Detention and North West
Point Immigration Detention Centre on 19 and 20 December 2010, respectively.
DIAC also facilitated the attendance of some survivors at funerals in
Sydney, following advice from the AFP that the bodies would be released.
The AFP appointed a Repatriation Commander to make arrangements to
either bury the deceased within Australia or repatriate them.
As Christmas Island does not have an undertaker, or available burial plots, the
deceased must be transferred to the mainland for burial or cremation. All
available identified relatives of the deceased were contacted by the AFP. The
AFP received requests in writing for repatriation locations. The families
requested that eight bodies be buried in Sydney.
The AFP covered the costs of the funeral and DIAC was responsible for
accommodation and transport costs for the relatives.
DIAC explained the decision to permit the families of the deceased to
have a say about where the bodies should be buried:
The Department considered it appropriate to facilitate the
families' preferences for the burial of their deceased kin and that
incorporating their wishes was consistent with the Government's Immigration
Detention values of treating clients fairly and reasonably while ensuring the
inherent dignity of the human person.
On 12 February 2011 all 30 deceased were transported from Christmas
13 unidentified deceased were flown to Perth, and placed in the
custody of the WA Coroner. Once formal identification had occurred, the 13
deceased were repatriated to Iran on 16 and 17 March 2011; and
17 identified deceased were flown to Sydney, of which 8 were
buried in Sydney, and the remaining flown to Iraq and Iran.
On 14 February 2011, direct and close relatives of the deceased were
transferred to Sydney to attend the funerals. Twenty-two people were
transferred from Christmas Island and one person from Perth. DIAC advised that
each person was selected because either they had suffered the loss of an
immediate family member, or they were a direct and close relative of a survivor
who suffered a loss and were considered a key emotional support to that person.
The group, which included survivors, was accompanied by interpreters and four
The committee understands that funeral arrangements were made in
consultation with the family members of the deceased and Islamic and Christian
religious leaders in Sydney.
Prior to their departure for Sydney, the group had been advised that
they would be returning to Christmas Island, as a group. This is because
decisions about placement on the mainland were still being made.
The committee received evidence during the first Canberra hearing that
criticised DIAC's decision to return the survivors to Christmas Island.
The committee asked DIAC to explain its decision, DIAC advised that community
detention arrangements had not yet been finalised:
The arrangements in respect of community detention for the
survivors were not in place. They were ultimately in place shortly after their
return to Christmas Island, enabling them to be placed shortly afterwards. So
within a 10-day period of the funerals community detention was finalised. It
was not something that started post the funeral arrangements; it was something
that had been in train before the funeral arrangements but could not be
finalised prior to the funeral being conducted.
The committee believes that the arrangements for the funerals in Sydney
were made in a sensitive and appropriate manner and that the decision to return
the survivors to Christmas Island was based on relevant considerations. In
particular, that it was a priority to keep the survivor group together until
all accommodation placement arrangements on the mainland had been finalised.
The Christmas Island community organised a memorial service on
5 March 2011. DIAC was consulted about the participation of
survivors in this service but decided that survivors would not attend. The
committee questioned DIAC about its decision not to allow the survivors to
attend the March memorial service. DIAC explained that its decision was based
on the best interests of the survivors, the Christmas Island community and the
fact that the survivors were expected to have left Christmas Island by the date
of the service.
DIAC also advised the committee that no survivors had asked to attend
the memorial service and that if anyone had asked to attend 'that might have
caused us to revise our position'.
The survivors were given an opportunity to prepare a message to be read at the
memorial, and a few chose to do so.
At the same time as the memorial service, survivors still remaining on
Christmas Island were taken to visit the site of the tragedy. All remaining
survivors were flown to the mainland the next day.
The committee received evidence from the Australian Red Cross and ASCI
that queried DIAC's decision not to permit the survivors to
attend the memorial, this is discussed in more detail in the next section.
Ms Fiona Andrew explained how the anger that some survivors expressed
towards the Christmas Island community in the aftermath of the tragedy informed
her decision that the survivors should not attend the community memorial. The
anger was first identified shortly after the tragedy:
I think the idea of a memorial service, or some sort of
service for the community, was first mooted sometime in the first week. On 17
December there had been a fairly substantial protest up at Construction Camp
and Phosphate Hill, and part of that protest had involved the survivors and
their families. There had been a fair amount of anger directed at the community
at that protest. Comments were made such as 'We watched you standing on the
rocks drinking cups of coffee, smoking cigarettes, and you did nothing to help
us. Our families died and you just watched.' So initially I was very against
any client involvement in the memorial service because I was very aware that
the community had suffered substantially. They had seen things that they should
never have seen and I was very concerned to protect the community. I did not
want the community in any way exposed to that anger. We certainly kept that
from the community as much as we could, up until recently really.
The following week, the Administrator visited the survivors, and witnessed
During the following week the administrator and his wife,
Brian and Joan Lacy, visited the survivors and that same degree of anger was
expressed to them. I recall that Brian was quite taken aback by it and my
impression was that he was not expecting it either.
When Ms Andrew returned from leave in mid-January, the mood of the
survivors had 'softened' and she became more open to the idea of the survivors
participating in the memorial. However, Ms Andrew also became aware that
opinion in the community was mixed. Ms Andrew explained to the committee:
But I was also aware that the community was divided. Some
felt that it was important that the survivors attend and some felt that they
should not attend. I was always very conscious of walking a very fine line
between the divided community.
Further, by 25 February 2011 there was another disturbance at
Construction Camp, and the mood of the survivors was 'fractious'. Coupled
with the impending departure of the survivors to community detention on the
mainland, Ms Andrew decided that the survivors would not attend the
community memorial service.
Ms Andrew advised the committee that the survivors' mood had changed in
the months following the tragedy, and that now many were grateful to the
community for their support:
Certainly as the mood softened so did the stance towards the
community. I think when the survivors themselves realised that there was a
positive outcome, that they were moving to the mainland, they actually became
quite grateful to the community. But to my way of thinking the service was
about the fact that 42 people were saved. I was concerned that the survivors
thought that 50 people had died, so there was a slightly different perspective.
The committee believes that DIAC's decision about survivor participation
was the correct one in the circumstances, and represented the best interests of
both the survivors and the community in a situation fraught with difficulty.
Current placement of survivors
All survivors have been moved off Christmas Island into community
detention in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth, or have been granted a visa.
DIAC has advised that the orphans and their families were released into
community detention on 24 February 2011. This decision was made once the
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship was satisfied that suitable
accommodation and access to psychological care were in place to support the
DIAC has advised that the other survivors were transferred to the mainland on 6
The three Indonesian crew are in AFP custody.
DIAC advised that as of 15 June 2011:
Twenty-nine survivors have been placed in community detention
arrangements: five in Adelaide, 11 in Melbourne and 13 in Sydney (this includes
two orphaned survivors);
nine survivors (including one orphaned child) have been granted
one survivor has been granted a Global Special Humanitarian visa;
the three Indonesian crew remain in AFP custody.
During the Canberra hearing on 16 June 2011, the committee asked DIAC
about the ongoing care and support provided to survivors who are now on the
mainland. DIAC advised the committee:
Placing survivors into community detention was the
department's priority. In community detention the survivors continue to be case
managed and have continued to receive health and mental health support. Links
with English language classes have been facilitated for all survivors. All
school-aged children have been enrolled in school and some additional intensive
English language lessons have been provided.
Some additional activities have been organised to support
them, and survivors have been helped to link with their own community members
and to stay in touch with their family members. A number of clients have been
granted protection visas and continue to be case managed and provided
settlement services through the Humanitarian Settlement Services program.
The committee is satisfied that the current placement arrangements for
the survivors are appropriate, and that adequate support continues to be
The committee is mindful of the deep trauma experienced by the survivors
of the tragedy. The committee believes that appropriate care and support has
been provided to the survivors.
The committee recommends that DIAC and its relevant contractors continue
to monitor the wellbeing of the survivors and that counselling and support
services should be provided for as long as is necessary.
After incident support provided to Christmas Island community members
Post-incident support for the
Christmas Island community
The committee has already outlined and paid tribute to the efforts of
the Christmas Island community on the day of the incident. Unfortunately,
well-deserved praise for Christmas Island residents does not tell the whole
story. Many residents who volunteered on the day saw horrific images which will
likely stay with them forever. Some continue to struggle to accept the fact
that there was nothing more they could have done to save lives. Many in this
small community, whether they witnessed the tragedy or not, are deeply affected
by what happened on their island, and they are affected in a variety of ways.
In this regard, the committee recalls a work of art by a Christmas Island
resident, depicting the emotional impact of this tragedy and the pain it
caused, which was submitted as evidence to the committee.
Given the harrowing scenes some community members witnessed on the day,
the committee took great care to establish whether an appropriate level of care
and support was afforded to residents after the tragedy.
The committee is aware that studies suggest non-professional volunteers
involved in rescue efforts are more likely to experience significant mental
health issues for prolonged periods following a traumatic event than
professional rescuers. This can be particularly pronounced for inexperienced
rescuers who witness the recovered bodies of children, as was the case on
Christmas Island is a small multilingual and multicultural community
where people deal with trauma in different ways. The committee was advised that
all support services were advertised and provided in a manner appropriate to
the different needs of Islamic, Chinese, and Caucasian members of the
community. Notices were translated into Chinese and Malay.
The Shire President, Mr Gordon Thomson, informed the committee that the
Administrator's office circulated a notice on the day of the tragedy advising
the community that a counsellor from the DIAC would be made available for
The Christmas Island Administrator also explained that counselling
services for the community were requested from the Department of Regional
Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and a leaflet advertising
the availability of counselling was put out by the IOTHS. The notice outlined
ways in which people could reduce some of the emotional pain associated with
trauma and assess whether they needed counselling.
DIAC broadened its Employment Assistance Provider (EAP) service to
provide assistance not only to departmental staff affected by the tragedy, but
also to Christmas Island residents.
The AFP also deployed a Welfare Officer to the island to provide critical
mental health support to AFP members and their families in the five week
period following the tragedy. The officer was also made available for the
Christmas Island community.
Dr Julie Graham, Director of Public Health and Medicine for the IOTHS,
informed the committee that a meeting was held the day after the incident to
identify specific people who might have had particular needs, after which the IOTHS
expanded the support it provided to the community on a regular basis. The
community was provided with the option of calling the local hospital to access
counselling services, and many people were given the opportunity see the IOTHS's
senior counsellor in their own homes or other neutral environments where they
Community use of counselling
The committee was told that only a relatively small number of community
members made use of professional counselling services available.
Many instead sought solace in their own personal support networks, family and
friends. Others left the island over the Christmas period immediately following
the tragedy, as large sections of the community routinely do over the holiday
Traditional, healthy coping methods—such as spending time with friends
and family, attending community events, talking about the incident with others
who shared the experience, finding solace in spirituality—are important healing
mechanisms. These can sometimes be as effective as professional counselling.
The committee is aware that Christmas Island residents have, by and large, used
pre-existing relationships and rituals to cope with their trauma:
Many people go back to their faith during times of great
crisis. I think people talked to the imam or cleric at the mosque and would
have perhaps sought solace in the holy book. I went to pray at my temple to
meditate on what had happened and brought questions of life and death. Support
for people who needed support was always there, and we put out flyers and so on
in the days after the disaster so people knew that the hospital was the point
Our island is very small and we know that our hospital is
very good, so everybody, if something is wrong with them emotionally or
physically, knows where to go. Talking about something like this, of the
enormity, the finality and the impossibility of it happening, in a place so familiar
took a great toll on people.
The less than expected uptake by the community of the external
counselling services brought onto the island in the wake of the tragedy does
not mirror the experiences of the IOTHS, however. The Health Service, which, as
explained earlier, provides regular health services to the community, was a
known resource the community may have been more comfortable using. The Director
In relation to 15 December, the reactions of the community
were the normal reactions to a very abnormal situation. People experienced
trauma and expressed their response to trauma in varying ways. I think we need
to be mindful that the services provided at the time were adequate, but we need
to continue to provide services because trauma manifests itself in varying time
degrees. Some of the situations that we are dealing with are not related to
SIEV221. Memories were brought up about other instances that had occurred
previously, so the health service has to play an ongoing role in supporting the
mental health of the community.
The Director of the Indian Ocean Territories Administration, Ms
Catherine Wildermuth, elaborated on other mechanisms employed by counselling
personnel. Many of these were less direct than one-on-one counselling:
...[W]hile there may not have been large absolute numbers for
one-on-one counselling, a number of mechanisms were employed by the counselling
personnel who were available in addition to providing one-on-one counselling.
Those kinds of things included going to community events occurring around the
time, having conversations with people in the community to get a sense of how
people were travelling, attending a number of meetings that happen reasonably
regularly on the island—mothers' groups and so on—and getting in contact with
some of the church groups on the island, for example, going along to services
in a very low-key way to keep an eye on what was happening. So the point that I
would like to make, I guess, is that, while they may not have been involved in
one-on-one counselling, they were certainly deployed for the time that they
were here doing the kind of work that we had asked them to do. In addition,
they were able to provide us with a great deal of advice, as has been referred
to earlier, about how we might conduct the memorial service, how we might
continue to provide services into the future and so on.
Dr Graham of the IOTHS concluded:
I think people who needed to use the service at the time used
it. Others used other mechanisms on island to provide support, whether it be
religious groups, family groups or community groups. As mentioned, people kept
an eye out for each other, and that is one of the nice things about a small
community: on that day everyone came together. It did not matter what religion
or nationality you were; you came together to help. That was seen on the rock
face, at Ethel Beach and in the days after, when people were continuing to
search for bodies. It was then seen in the recovery of the island in the
support that people provided for each other. People knew who was at risk,
people knew who might have been suffering and people touched base with them. So
I think that, as a community, they pulled together not only for the boat
survivors but for the community individuals as well.
Memorial service for the deceased
A community memorial service for the deceased was held on the island on
5 March 2011. In a touching gesture, a young woman from Christmas Island's
Chinese community made hundreds of paper flowers which were distributed at the
The service was attended by many people. The committee heard that
residents, many of whom displayed high levels of emotional distress, had hoped
to meet survivors and thought they might have an opportunity to do so on the
day of the service:
The conversation we had with DIAC was that we wanted to have
asylum seekers come to the memorial service as well because it is not
honourable to have a memorial service and not invite the people who lost people
that day. DIAC were very indecisive about whether or not I could have asylum
seekers come: they said they were not going to be there, then they were going
to be there.
In the end, no survivors of the SIEV 221 tragedy attended. DIAC's
reasons for not bringing survivors to the memorial service are outlined earlier
in this chapter. One of the considerations DIAC had to weigh up in making its
decision was the possibility of a painful outburst motivated by grief from some
of the survivors. The committee heard that conversations with survivors in
subsequent days and weeks revealed that, at times, their grieving process
included stages of anger. Some had misinterpreted rescuers' actions on the day
and felt let down:
You would have seen the photos and videos of the event that
day. If some of the survivors who were in the water, or if they needed help,
and they saw us taking photos and videos, they could not understand why we were
doing that. I found this out from some of the survivors later. We were
motioning some of them away from the rocks—'go that way'—and I found out later
that they thought we were telling them to go away and not come to the island.
We were telling them to 'go that way; the water is going to be coming that
way—don't come to the cliff'. But they could not swim so they made their way
onto the cliff and the water's force was too great when the waves came. You
would not have had a chance in hell of holding on to that cliff. So they
misunderstood what we were trying to say.
Not everybody was angry, obviously, but when you lose so many
people in your own family the grieving process in the first stage is disbelief,
then anger, and some were very angry. I think some really understood that we
did the best. You will see in the submission that we had letters from the
survivors to be read out to the community, and many of those letters expressed
a deep gratitude and thankfulness to the islanders for what we did that day.
But not everybody felt the same way, especially in the weeks immediately after,
when the survivors were asking, 'Where was the help? Where was a Navy ship?' or
'Why didn't the big Navy ship come in?'
They saw the large Navy ship on the edge but only saw the two
RHIBs come in. They do not understand, I guess, that large Navy ships cannot
come in that close to the cliff because that is not how Navy ships work—they
need a certain level of depth in the water, I guess.
Exposure to negative emotions from the survivors could have had a very
damaging effect on residents who were deeply traumatised by the human tragedy
they witnessed and were deemed to be vulnerable to further emotional distress.
The committee also heard that not all residents wanted survivors at the
memorial, as discussed above.
For these reasons the committee accepts that the decision that DIAC made
was a difficult one, but was based on the best interests of the survivors and
Decision to keep the bodies of the
deceased on the island
On 17 December 2010 the WA Coroner advised WAPOL of specific directions
and jurisdictional requirements regarding the coronial investigation into the
incident. This letter informed WAPOL that post-mortems would not be required,
and that as a result the recovered bodies of the deceased would not be sent to
mortuary facilities in Perth, in the first instance. Identification of the
bodies, following Interpol DVI was an extended process not completed until 3
March 2011. All of the deceased were transported from the island by 12 February
2011, as discussed earlier in this chapter. 
The committee is aware that the Christmas Island community was concerned
that the bodies of the deceased remained unburied on the island for a number of
weeks. The committee heard that this may have caused particular distress to the
large Chinese community on the island, whose spiritual beliefs were offended by
the length of time it took to bury the deceased:
There are many layers of impact around the boat tragedy. One
that I think is important, but easy to miss, is the spiritual impact on
Christmas Island. The Chinese community are a large part of the island, and
have significant beliefs about the circumstances in which people die, the state
of their spirits, and how this impacts on the living.
The AFP advised the committee that it had tasked a Repatriation
Commander to engage with the Christmas Island community through the
Administrator and the senior DIAC officer on Christmas Island in an attempt to
understand residents' concerns regarding the deceased being held on the island
for so long.
The committee requested further information from the AFP on this matter,
and was informed that initial consultations were in respect of 17 of the
deceased who had been formally identified. They were scheduled to be relocated
just prior to Chinese New Year. Upon consultation with the community, the AFP
learned that there was some discomfort around any bodies remaining uninterred
on the island during the Chinese New Year period. As a consequence, the AFP
requested approval from the WA Coroner for the remaining 13 unidentified
deceased to be removed at the same time as the 17 identified. Approval was
granted, and all of the deceased were evidently removed from the island to
ensure the Chinese New Year customs were observed.
The committee notes the particular trauma experienced by residents who
helped in the rescue and recovery effort, those who witnessed the tragedy,
their friends and families. Given the evidence presented, the committee
considers that an appropriate level of professional counselling was made
available for the community. This was complemented by tailored services for
individuals and groups.
As a consequence of this tragedy many residents may retain horrific
images in their memories and grapple with questions and issues which are
immensely difficult to cope with for any individual. The committee has great
sympathy for residents who hoped to meet with survivors after the incident, and
appreciates that such a meeting may have been beneficial insofar as it could
have enabled volunteers to see physical evidence of the good they did. However,
the committee also understands that authorities had extremely difficult decisions
to make in weighing the benefits of such a meeting against the possibility of
inflicting further psychological pain on the community by allowing a situation
where negative emotions could spill over.
The committee believes residents of Christmas Island share a permanent
emotional bond with those on board the SIEV 221, and many will carry memories
of the tragedy throughout their lives. It is now an indelible part of the
history of Christmas Island and its community. For this reason, the committee
would support any decision the community might reach to erect a memorial on the
island, at a site of the residents' choosing, to serve as a reminder of those
who lost their lives, and those who risked theirs to help fellow human beings
in need. DIAC has advised the committee that a plaque and memorial board will
be placed at the wreck site, and the committee supports this decision. The
committee urges that this be done with sensitivity and in consultation with the
local community in order for it to help heal emotional wounds.
The committee recommends that the Department of Regional
Australia and DIAC liaise with the Christmas Island community to explore
options for a permanent memorial to be erected on the island, at a site of the
residents' choosing, for the victims of the tragedy.
After incident support provided to Customs, Defence and other personnel
The committee received evidence on the after incident support provided
to Commonwealth officers. While each agency established its own counselling and
support programs, the agencies shared their counselling resources in the
immediate aftermath of the tragedy with each other, and the Christmas Island
After incident support to affected personnel is critical. As discussed in
Chapter 3, the personnel involved in the rescue effort, and in the aftermath, witnessed
horrific scenes. The Customs and ADF crew were directly involved in the rescue
effort: pulling survivors and deceased from extremely rough waters, while
risking their own lives. The AFP were responsible for coordinating the response
on the island, and this included the recovery of the deceased and placing all
deceased in body bags before transfer to the temporary morgue.
Staff from the IOTHS and the IHMS provided immediate and longer term medical
care to survivors, and support for personnel. Serco and DIAC staff provided day
to day care and support to distraught and grieving survivors following the
The circumstances described above are horrific, and it is very important
that all affected personnel receive appropriate and timely support. The
committee is satisfied that appropriate support – in the form of psychological
and counselling services – has been made available to all personnel.
The next section outlines the support provided to Customs personnel.
After incident support provided to
Customs described to the committee the support that was provided to
affected personnel in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
On the day of the tragedy:
regional management teams commenced planning to provide support
staff and counsellors to officers at Christmas Island;
charter flight options were identified;
available relief staff were identified;
a critical incident management organisation was established in
Comcare was advised of the tragedy in general terms;
contact was made with the Customs Employment Assistance Provider
(EAP), and a request was made for senior counsellors to wait in Perth, and to
be available to travel at short notice to Christmas Island; and
families of affected ACV Triton crew were contacted in the
afternoon, and advised that officers were safe, and that support could be
obtained from the EAP.
On 16 December 2010 the relief team arrived on an AFP chartered flight
at 1:50am and the support team conducted group and individual discussions with
staff to ascertain emotional and mental states.
On 17 December 2010 the counsellor met with Customs crew, as well as contracted
staff for group sessions on board the ACV Triton. The same
counsellor visited the HMAS Pirie on 18 December 2010 to provide support
until the ADF Critical Incident Support staff could attend. The CEO of Customs
commended the actions of the relevant Customs crew, via video conference.
While the counsellor's primary focus during this period was the wellbeing of
the Customs officers involved in the incident, meetings also took place with
other officials on Christmas Island, including members of the AFP.
In consultation with the counsellor, Customs also developed plans to
bring more support staff to Christmas Island and to ensure that staff and
families on Christmas Island were monitored and provided with the opportunity
for leave and/or recuperation. Counsellors were also provided for support staff
based in Canberra.
During the hearings on Christmas Island, the committee asked about the quality
of the support that was being provided to Customs officers. Mr Myles Pickett,
District Manager, advised the committee that
Immediately after the incident, within 12 hours of the
incident or something like that, we had people on the way. We had a counsellor
up here. I have been in constant contact with her ever since. In fact, she rang
me this morning to see how I felt about attending here. She has been excellent
and I know she has also spoken to all the other people on my staff. She rings
my wife to see how she is going—proqbably to ask sneaky questions about how I am
going as well. Certainly from a Customs perspective we have been wrapped by the
support that we have received.
When the committee asked if it was expected that this assistance would
be ongoing, and was assured that professional assistance would be provided for
as long as it is needed. Mr Pickett told the committee
I have no doubt that if I sought further help there would be
no hesitation in providing that. Certainly Marjorie, our counsellor, has said
to call her at any time.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Customs, Ms Marion Grant, assured
the committee that all necessary assistance would be provided:
On behalf of the executive of the organisation, I can confirm
that that professional help is available to our officers for as long as it is
needed. Marjorie, the counsellor, has her client case load from our
organisation, and she is progressively working through that. Some people are
suggesting to her that they are feeling fine and that they probably do not need
her to make those follow-up phone calls. As recently as yesterday one of our
other officers said he really appreciated her calling him, because she has been
ringing around thinking that the hearings may stir up memories for people. He
said to her that he appreciated it but he was handling it well and she could
cross him off her follow-up list and concentrate her efforts on those who still
needed help. She has been reporting back, not by individual name because of
privacy protection, that she feels some people are coping very well and other
people need more intervention.
Our commitment to our officers is that that service will be
provided indefinitely. I am imagining the numbers will tail off as we go
through the process. That is for our people who are on island, their families,
people on board the vessels, people who are in our Perth office now but had
come to provide additional support on island, and some of our people in
headquarters who were receiving the phone calls and making the arrangements for
response vessels—a lot of officers just felt what more could they do but
regretted the tragedy and wished they could have done more. All those issues
are being worked through but I can assure you that the support is not
The committee is satisfied that Customs is providing timely and
appropriate after incident support to personnel directly and indirectly
involved in the tragedy. This support is consistent with Recommendation 8 made
in the SIEV 221 Internal Review.
After incident support provided to
The AFP outlined the immediate support provided to its personnel in its
submission. Support included:
a Welfare Officer being deployed to Christmas Island;
provision of critical incident mental health support to AFP
personnel involved in the incident and the aftermath;
provision of psychological support services to all partners and
children of Christmas Island Police; and
provision of extensive trauma support for departing AFP
The AFP advised that 3 and 6 month follow up assessments were arranged.
Further, all Christmas Island Police Station personnel have received follow-up
care and will be monitored for a 12 month period following the incident.
During hearings on Christmas Island the committee asked AFP officers
about the quality of the support provided. Sergeant Peter Swann spoke of his
Certainly AFP has had very good support on island. As was stated
before, we had a psychologist here for a month. We have since had two follow-up
visits. We have telephone contact regularly. It is probably the most support I
have had following any incident I have attended in 29 years of policing.
Superintendent Gavin Ryan explained the AFP's general approach to
providing support to personnel:
The International Deployment Group has full-time
psychologists based in Canberra, Brisbane and Perth. As you know, we go
everywhere around the world—Afghanistan, Cyprus, Sudan, Timor, the Solomons.
They travel the world debriefing officers. For the Solomons, it is a
four-month, eight-month, 12-month debriefing process. For Afghanistan, which I
just came out of prior to coming here, we were flown back halfway for a
one-on-one process. It is a very structured process—you must attend and you
must participate before you are given a clearance by a psych and allowed to be
deployed again. Everyone is on a first name basis with them, and it is almost
like a confessional. It is very relaxed and everyone is comfortable, because
they see them so often. They know everyone by their first name and they know
all the problems; they know all the kids, and that type of thing. It is very
practised within the AFP because of the deployments.
The Committee is satisfied that the AFP is providing timely and
appropriate after incident support to personnel directly and indirectly
involved in the tragedy.
After incident support provided to
The ADF advised in its submission that a Defence Critical Incident
Stress Management Team provided counselling and care for all ADF personnel
involved in the tragedy.
As discussed above, a Customs counsellor visited the HMAS Pirie on 18
December 2010 to provide support until appropriate ADF staff arrived.
During the hearings on Christmas Island, the committee asked for more
detail on the support provided. Lieutenant Commander Mitchell Livingstone
[W]e have been very well served. At the initial time of the
event we had the Customs counsellor come down. We sailed back to Darwin with
two naval psychologists embarked, so there was a five-day session with all of
us. There was a monthly screening, and we finished our three-monthly screening
some time ago. That ongoing support is there whenever it is individually
flagged or when I think they might need a bit of support. That is open to their
families as well, and that will be available for the duration.
The Committee is satisfied that the ADF is providing timely and
appropriate after incident support to personnel directly and indirectly
involved in the tragedy.
After incident support provided to
DIAC, IHMS and Serco personnel
DIAC outlined the support that was provided to DIAC staff, as well as
the staff of contracted service providers, in its submission to the inquiry.
DIAC provides an independent and confidential counselling service for staff and
contractors, through the EAP. 
Dr Ling Yoong, IHMS, described the support that was provided:
We did have an EAP counsellor up to debrief all of us. I think
that was really useful, because it is not something you go through every day.
It is traumatic...
And we had an extra psychological counsellor come up because
we also realised that our staff needed help but Serco staff also needed help.
So we had one of our counsellors deal with the Serco staff who were right at
the front line.
Mr Ian Southerton described the support that was provided to Serco staff:
For Serco staff as well, there are some staff still
undergoing counselling. At the time we had a two-stringed approach. We had an
on-site employee assistance program here, which is a dual service: one is an
emergency service for counselling and the other is a general service where you
can book a counselling appointment. But we also have a dedicated staff
psychologist who is responsible for CI anyway. She was off-site at that
particular point, but we arranged for a staff psychologist to fly to the island
the following day and we also set up a triage service in Perth so that we could
capture all the staff that left CI. We set that up for about a month after, so
we captured all staff to make sure that they were okay and whether they needed
The committee is satisfied that DIAC, through IHMS and EAP, is providing
timely and appropriate after incident support to personnel directly and
indirectly involved in the tragedy.
The committee is mindful of the deep trauma experienced by many officers
involved in the immediate response to the tragedy and the aftermath. The
committee is satisfied that Commonwealth agencies have made all reasonable
efforts to provide appropriate support to affected personnel and their
The committee recommends that relevant Commonwealth agencies continue to
monitor the wellbeing of their personnel and that counselling and support
services should be provided for as long as necessary.
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