The company operating Australia’s offshore detention centres insists it is “making a positive difference” to asylum seekers despite widespread reports of rapes and assaults.
Transfield Services, which runs detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, on Thursday said it was putting an “enhanced focus” on reducing its social and governance risk.
But Chief executive Graeme Hunt denied there were serious issues to address, adding that Transfield had been criticised unfairly and without proper supporting evidence regarding human rights abuses.
“Perhaps what we haven’t been clear about is what we actually do as a business,” Mr Hunt told AAP.
“Our people, particularly those in immigration contracts, are doing a tremendous job in challenging circumstances, and there’s no doubt our involvement is making a positive difference to the asylum seekers. That’s recognised by the asylum seekers themselves.”
A Senate Select Committee has been investigating allegations of physical and sexual assaults at the detention centre on Nauru, and Transfield last week defended the integrity of the evidence it has provided to the inquiry.
Mr Hunt, who is also managing director, said anger directed at Transfield was misguided.
“As a publicly listed corporate, we are a target for people who would like to attack the offshore processing policy … notwithstanding the fact that policy has been issued and implemented by two successive governments of different political persuasion, remains supported by both major parties and, so far as I can tell, the vast majority of the Australian people,” he said.
Mr Hunt said it was not Transfield’s position to support or oppose the policy.
“It is our position to execute the services we’re contracted to,” he said.
Super fund HESTA cited evidence of human rights violations when it dropped its three per cent holding in the company earlier this month, and other funds have reportedly done the same.
“While we are available for those conversations, some of those organisations have not reached out to us for our views,” Mr Hunt said.