Artists Protest Wilson Security Contract with National Gallery Victoria
3 August 2017 at 5:17 pm
Artists and refugee and asylum seeker advocates are calling on the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) to end a security contract with Wilson Security citing the company’s human rights record in offshore detention centres.
WACA – Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance – is a community alliance which has joined with a group of Australian artists calling on the NGV to end a short term contract with Wilson Security while tenders go out for a permanent security contract at the Melbourne gallery.
The Artists’ Committee, an informal association of artists and arts workers in Australia, has written a letter to the director of the NGV Tony Ellwood demanding the organisation cancel the Wilson contract.
“As the National Gallery of Victoria takes up a new contract with Wilson Security, Wilson Security is violently enforcing the imprisonment of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia’s offshore immigration detention centres,” the letter said.
“As a community of artists, arts workers, patrons and members of the public, we are concerned with the ways in which our public institutions deal with urgent social responsibilities. We expect the NGV to acknowledge the voice of its audience – we are calling on your institution to act powerfully and immediately for justice, by cutting its ties with the detention industry.”
It’s understood that more than 1400 artists have so far signed the open letter.
WACA spokeswoman, Sam Castro told Pro Bono News that the artists had come together with WACA to get Wilson Security out of institutional structures and cultural spaces.
“We are calling on the NGV as a trusted cultural institution to cancel these contracts. Wilson security only last week was in the media with accounts of them beating up refugees on Manus. So we would like [the NGV] to do the right thing and end the contract,” Castro said.
“We don’t think this [contract] is appropriate for the NGV and we also don’t think it’s appropriate that Victorian money to fund the NGV is used.
“From WACA’s perspective we are also calling on the Victorian government to end all contracts with Wilson Security. We don’t think that they fit the ethical guidelines a for procurement for the Victorian government.”
Castro said the organisation had been engaging with the Premier’s office in an attempt to have a dialogue on “why they are using taxpayers money to fund a corporation that is a known abuser of human rights”.
“We believe that these corporations should not be rewarded with taxpayers and private funders money to instill themselves in our institutional structures.
“We are hoping the NGV will do the right thing and we won’t have to continue to pressure them.”
A spokesperson for the NGV said: “Currently, Wilson Security is the NGV’s interim security service provider. We are in the process of procuring a long-term provider, who will be selected following the refresh of [the] government’s security services panel later this year.”
Wilson Security was subcontracted by Broadspectrum (formerly known as Transfield) to provide security services on Australia’s offshore detention centres in Nauru and Manus.
In September 2016 Wilson Security announced it would abandon offshore detention work when the current contract ended in October 2017.
Wilson had been under pressure since the publication of the Nauru files, in August 2016, which revealed incidents of assault of asylum seekers and refugees, including allegations of sexually assault of women and children.
Pro Bono News sought comment from Wilson Security.