Canberra, July 29 : The Australian government today overhauled its immigration policy, putting an end to what it referred to as the "dehumanising" practice of indefinite mandatory detention.
Australia's Immigration Minister, Senator Christopher Evans, described the move as a new era in Australian immigration law in a speech in Canberra this morning.
The Senator told an audience at the Australian National University that the Rudd Government would "fundamentally overturn" the previous government's immigration policy, and implement a risk-based policy of detention.
"Under Labor's reforms, persons will be detained only if the need is established... if a person is complying with immigration processes and is not a risk to the community, then detention in a detention centre cannot be justified," he said in the speech, titled New Directions in Detention - Restoring Integrity to Australia's Immigration System.
The Senator said all those currently held in detention centres who met health and security requirements would eventually be released into the community, but could not say when that would occur.
Anyone arriving by boat to Australian shores will still be detained to undergo mandatory health, identity and security checks, but would be released into the community once they had been cleared, he added.
"The set of values adopted are designed to drive the development of a very different detention model. The values commit us to detention as a last resort; to detention for the shortest practicable period; to the rejection of indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention," said Senator Evans.
Children will also no longer be detained in Australian detention centres.
The majority of people detained under the current policy were those who had overstayed their visa.