No imam for detainees
Muslim detainees at Inverbrackie can attend a Catholic mass but an Islamic leader is not provided.
A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said several religious provisions were made for the 300 asylum seekers. “Immigration detainees are free to practise any religion of their choice on an individual or communal basis and have access to community religious organisations,” he said. “An imam (Islamic religious leader) is not available in the Adelaide Hills community. However, a highly regarded member of the Inverbrackie client population leads Islamic prayer and the majority of Muslim clients attend these prayers.”
The spokesman said a Hindu sermon was conducted every third Friday and several cultural and religious celebrations had been held for “clients” at Inverbrackie.
“The detention service has provided a religious liaison officer at Inverbrackie for the first point of contact for people in detention,” the spokesman said. Father John Vildzius from the Mount Barker/Strathalbyn Catholic parish leads the weekly mass that is attended by up to 20 Catholic detainees.
“It’s important that this service is provided because they are vulnerable, far from home and far from their grounding,” he said.
Most attendees at the Catholic mass are from Sri Lanka and a Protestant Iranian family occasionally joins them. Father Vildzius said several detainees of a Hindu belief sometimes attended the mass for a “spiritual blessing”. “It’s a privilege to reach out to these people. My family was a displaced-person family after World War II and were originally housed in the Inverbrackie area.”