YONGAH Hill Detention Centre received the first 84 detainees of an anticipated 600 at midday yesterday, following the recent completion of the $124.5 million detention facility.
The asylum seekers were transferred from Wickham Point detention facility in the Northern Territory and are mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman said all detainees arriving at Yongah Hill had undergone preliminary health checks.
More detainees are expected to arrive from across the Australian network of detention centres “in coming weeks”.
Spokesman Sandi Logan said detainee excursions to Northam and surrounds were likely once the centre had built up community trust.
“In terms of community confidence, we welcome visitors to the Yongah Hill Detention Centre, we welcome interaction with the detainees, we welcome the community coming in and being involved with the clients here,” he said.
“One of the important elements of maintaining a healthy and compliant detainee group is to have that interaction with the community and people living nearby.”
Local sporting groups are likely to use the two half-size soccer fields, volleyball courts and undercover basketball courts located in the “green heart” of YHDC.
“One area where the Christmas Island residents have really valued the island's detainees is the sporting community, which has increased many, many fold.” Mr Logan said.
Other groups involved in education, craft, gardening, religion and more can also contact the department to become involved.
Detainees are required to participate in educational programs to accumulate extra points that can be used to purchase snack food and cigarettes.
Each client receives 25 points at the beginning of the week and can earn up to 25 more each week; equivalent to a maximum of $50 per week.
Organisations or groups interested in becoming involved in YHDC activities or programs can call DIAC community liaison officer Greg O'Connell on 0434 184 054.