Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another corporation set to make millions out of Australia's abuse of children and young people

The corporate takeover of Australia's human and community services continues.

Another multinational corporation is set to profit from Australia's immigration detention system and its abuse of children and young people.

The Gillard Government has signed a new contract worth $29 million with the US based Maximus Solutions to care for  unaccompanied minors held in Australia's immigration detention gulags. The contract was previously held by Life Without Barriers, an Australian not- for- profit organization.

The figure is the nominal amount of a new contract between the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the US based Maximus Solutions to provide ``care and support'' to teenage asylum-seekers who arrive by boat without a parent or a guardian. 

The extract below is from Paige Taylor's report in the Australian (July 12 2012)
There are currently 168 such teens, mostly boys, living under guard in ``alternative places of detention'' at Darwin airport, on Christmas Island and at a camp in the West Australian northern goldfields town of Leonora.

In the costly context of Australia's immigration detention network, the department finds the $29m contract represents good value.
It is a tiny sliver of the size of the five-year contract between the Immigration Department and Serco for the management of Australia's immigration detention centres on Christmas Island and the mainland; in July last year, that agreement, due to expire in 2014, was valued at $1,032,827,276.
The contract is one of the measures the federal government has in place to meet its obligations towards unaccompanied minors.
``As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Australian government takes its obligations towards unaccompanied minors very seriously,'' the Immigration Department states on its website.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen is the legal guardian of all unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Australia; as of last Friday, there were a total of 310 -- almost half, 142, had been placed in community housing under the care of the Red Cross while the rest were still in detention. ``The contract is for care and support services to unaccompanied minors in the detention network,'' a spokesman for the department said yesterday.
``It is also for `independent observer' services on Christmas Island and in mainland Australia.''

Maximus Solutions is a subsidiary of the US based Maximus Inc.

Maximus Inc is a US based multinational corporation that works in the health and human services industries in US, Canada, UK and Australia. It wins Government contracts to provide services previously delivered by Governments or not-for-profit organizations. With a motto Helping Government serve the People Maximus employs 8800 people worldwide.

Maximus is embroiled in controversy wherever it goes. Maximus settled with the US Government over corporate fraud allegations after it (the Government) bought a lawsuit against Maximus for falsifying $30.5 million of Medicare claims.  The Department of Justice statement on the settlement is here.

Maximus was also found to have doubled billed for services in New Jersey.

Maximus makes heavy use of lobbyists and payments to politicians and political parties. Maximus was reputed to have won a $72 million contract after it donated funds to current Presidential candidate Matt Romney when he was Massachusetts Governor.

In the UK Maximus and other other corporate providers have massively increased sanctions imposed on  welfare recipients have developed grassroots campaigns targeting a range of corporations, including Maximus, accusing them of profiteering and exploitation of people on welfare.

Here in Australia journalist Elisabeth Wynhausen has investigated Max Employment's provision of employment support services on behalf of the Australia Government in 84 sites and 71 outreach locations.

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