Pinkenba Quarantine Facility Repurposed as AFP Training Hub

The Pinkenba quarantine facility is set to be converted into an Australian Federal Police (AFP) training centre, sidelining a $10 million state commitment to transforming the site into crisis accommodation.

Initially established for Covid quarantine measures, the facility will now serve as a dedicated training hub for the AFP, as confirmed by Australian Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. 

Senator Gallagher underscored the strategic decision to enhance AFP capabilities by adapting the Pinkenba site, formally named the Centre of National Resilience Brisbane. She noted that the decision followed thorough discussions with multiple government levels, ensuring the site’s optimal use aligns with national interests.

Despite previously announced plans by Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon to convert it into a 500-bed emergency housing unit, the federal directive aligns with the AFP’s operational expansion needs. This move has sparked considerable backlash from local and state officials who argue that the facility could better serve the acute housing shortage affecting thousands across Queensland.

Mix Reactions from Officials, Advocates and Community

Premier Steven Miles expressed frustration over the decision, highlighting the federal ownership of the site as a determining factor in its utilisation, and criticised its initial use as a quarantine centre. 

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Scanlon, who had heralded the state’s financial commitment last June, voiced disappointment over the federal pivot, which effectively dismisses efforts to address the housing crisis at a time when the state faces significant accommodation shortages.

The reaction from community leaders and housing advocacy groups has been sharply critical. Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli described the decision as a missed opportunity to mitigate homelessness. Advocacy groups like Q Shelter and the Queensland Council of Social Service, along with the Salvation Army, have all lamented the federal government’s prioritisation of police training over urgent housing needs, criticizing the lengthy deliberation period that led to this outcome.

Housing advocates have consistently pointed out that the facility, whilst not ideal for long-term living due to its layout and lack of essential amenities like kitchens and laundries, could still have provided temporary relief for the homeless, especially during extreme weather conditions or other crises.

Pinkenba Quarantine Facility
Photo Credit: AdrianSchrinner/Facebook

Karyn Walsh, CEO of Micah Projects, a social advocacy group, argued that while the facility was not a perfect solution, the urgent need for housing should have overridden concerns about its suitability for long-term residence. 

Financial Implications and Resource Allocation

The decision to repurpose the facility involves significant financial outlays, with the federal government committing additional funds to modify the site for AFP training. 

This has led to criticism about the allocation of resources, particularly in light of the existing commitments from state and local governments intended for housing relief. Critics argue that this reflects a misalignment of priorities at a time when public funds could be directed towards more pressing social needs.

Published 29-April-2024

QLD’s $10-Million Plan to Transform Pinkenba Quarantine Facility Into Emergency Housing Accommodation

It would take $10 million to do it but the Pinkenba quarantine facility will be transformed into emergency accommodations for people in dire need of housing.

The State government’s landmark decision about the fate of the Pinkenba quarantine facility comes after numerous debates and discussions surrounding the site’s purpose, with previous assertions that its management fell under federal jurisdiction.

However, the pressing housing crisis in Queensland has necessitated action, and the facility will now be repurposed for much-needed housing.

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon unveiled the funding commitment following a housing roundtable, marking a significant turning point in the government’s stance. Partnering with one of Australia’s leading charities, the Salvation Army, the state is determined to ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of the facility. 

The charity’s state homelessness manager, Aaron Pimlott, expressed their readiness to provide professional case management and collaborate with all levels of government to address the escalating issue of homelessness and extreme poverty in the region.

Whilst acknowledging that Pinkenba may not be a perfect solution, Pimlott emphasised the importance of expediting the process to provide vulnerable Queenslanders with a safe roof over their heads. He highlighted the worsening housing crisis and the need to explore alternative solutions in times of desperation.

This initiative builds upon the vision proposed by Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, who suggested converting the facility into crisis accommodation for domestic violence victims last year. He has also pledged an additional $1 million to enhance the facility to serve a wider range of emergency housing needs.  

Cr Schrinner reiterated the urgent need for the state government to take the lead in activating Pinkenba as crisis accommodation, stressing that many individuals are currently compelled to sleep in cars and tents despite the availability of a brand-new 500-bed facility.

In addition to allocating funds towards the conversion of the Pinkenba quarantine facility, the state will engage with stakeholders, including the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, Queensland Council of Social Service, Tenants Queensland, and the Residential Tenancies Authority, to shape comprehensive rental reforms that safeguard tenants’ rights.

The government’s decision to convert the Pinkenba quarantine facility aligns with its commitment to address the pressing issue of homelessness. It also recently announced that it will allocate $320 million for 500 social homes to address the housing shortage.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk expressed the need to ensure all Queenslanders have housing, considering the influx of people moving to the state. The social housing is expected to be completed by mid-2025.

Published 14-June-2023

Brisbane Willing to Commit $1 Million For Crisis Housing at Pinkenba Quarantine Facility

Brisbane is willing to commit $1 million to help fund a plan to convert the 500-bed Pinkenba quarantine facility into crisis accommodations for the homeless.

A petition for the emergency accommodation has been made at the city level and conversations on the cost-effective use of the facility are expected to move forward in the middle of May 2023. 

As the housing crisis escalates, a push to open the 500-bed Pinkenba quarantine facility has been laid out, with discussions expected to start at the national, state, and city levels.

Brisbane has announced its willingness to commit $1 million to this plan to help fund further work that has to be done to change the Pinkenba quarantine facility into a crisis accommodation for the homeless. 

“We’re all tired of hearing the excuses about why this can’t happen so I’m putting $1 million on the table as a down payment to help make this happen,” Cr Adrian Schrinner said.

“I know this facility wasn’t purpose-built for crisis housing but it’s a whole lot better than living in a car or a tent – and that’s exactly what’s occurring right across Brisbane right now while this 500-bed facility sits idle.”

Pinkenba Quarantine Facility
Photo Credit: LordMayorAdrianSchrinner/Facebook

Meanwhile, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said that the Federal Government, which owns the Pinkenba quarantine facility, is ready to work with their State and Council counterparts. However, they have yet to see a formal approach to this plan. 

Karyn Walsh, the CEO of Micah Projects, a charity for the homeless, said that moving people into the facility has to be clearly outlined given the diversity of the population. The solution should also work out a more permanent outcome that would put an end to the struggles of the homeless or rough sleepers. 

It comes as more than 50 people living in tents at Musgrave Park in the inner city have been moved to temporary accommodation in time for the biggest cultural event in Brisbane, the Panyiri Festival, on 20 and 21 May 2023. Fences in some sections of the park are expected to go up on 15 May 2023. 

Published 15-May-2023

Unfinished Pinkenba Quarantine Facility Proposed for Transformation as Housing for DV Victims

A proposal has been raised to transform the unfinished Pinkenba quarantine facility into a dedicated crisis housing complex for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

In July 2022, the Queensland government announced that the Pinkenba quarantine facility will no longer be required for COVID-19 amidst its delayed opening. The pandemic Wellcamp facility, which opened in February and housed over 700 individuals in the course of six months, has also been ordered closed as of 1 Aug 2022.  

Given these changes, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said that there is now an “opportunity to step-up and ensure their Pinkenba quarantine facility becomes a valuable asset rather than a white elephant.” 

The Federal Government owns the site, which was originally set to open in 2021 with an initial 500 beds and was also due for a handover to the State Government in March. Delays due to inclement weather pushed back its opening but the completion date of the facility has not yet been announced. 

Mr Schrinner said that a number of organisations that have the expertise in crisis housing may run the site on behalf of the government. However, Micah Projects chief executive Karyn Walsh said that the Pinkenba quarantine facility won’t be a quick fix. 

Pinkenba Quarantine Facility
Wellcamp Quarantine Facility
Photo Credit: QueenslandGovt

Whilst Ms Walsh backs the mayor’s idea, she said housing accommodation for domestic violence victims should be planned by the right people. She said DV victims will need to have the “security of housing” where the location is near support services as opposed to a quarantine facility in a well-known site. 

The quarantine facility was also mainly built for infection control and prevention, supporting the health systems and humanitarian efforts of the government. 

A spokesperson for the Federal Government’s Finance Minister and Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said that the $400 million site may instead have future uses for health and emergency situations or as a temporary crisis accommodation following a natural disaster and similar events. 

Quarantine facilities in Victoria and Perth have had similar problems and are now vacant or have yet to open.

Pinkenba Quarantine Facility’s Capacity May Be Reduced By Half

The construction of a quarantine facility at Pinkenba is already progressing, but a sizeable reduction in capacity seems to be in the cards for the purpose-built facility.

Read: New Renewable Energy Training Facility Set for Construction in Pinkenba

The initial plan was to build a centre with capacity for up to 1,000 beds, with the first 500 beds to be built in the first quarter of 2022.

However, the federal government has confirmed they will review the plan, out of concern whether the next 500 beds will still be reasonable to build as Australia opens up sooner than expected.

At present, permanent residents and their immediate family have been given permission to enter Australia through NSW and Victoria without needing to stay in a quarantine facility.  Plans are also being reviewed in the context of QLD having reached its vaccination target for border reopening.

Effective 13 December, QLD will allow fully vaccinated people to travel to the state without quarantining under certain conditions.

About the Pinkenba quarantine facility

Army Barracks in Pinkenba (Photo credit:

The Pinkenba quarantine facility is one of the two regional accommodation centres being developed in Queensland. The other one is located in Toowoomba, on private land that will be leased to the State Government. 

The facility, which will be built on a 30-ha Army Barracks in Pinkenba, is close to all necessary medical facilities, including three major hospitals. It’s located 3 km from the Brisbane airport and approximately 7km to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The Queensland Government previously worked with the Commonwealth to address a number of concerns with the Pinkenba site. A feasibility study by AECOM on the Pinkenba site raised a number of concerns that need to be addressed. These include issues relating to noise mitigation; environmental issues including the site being subject to flooding; and its historical use as a defence storage site.

“Whilst it will be used for any ongoing quarantine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be there in the years to come to support responses to natural disasters or other crises,” said Finance Minister Simon Birmingham.

Despite the issues with the land in Pinkenba, the site’s contractor Multiplex, is now ramping up work according to the federal government. The company has also been selected to deliver the purpose-built quarantine facility in Victoria.

“Multiplex is making strong progress in its work to deliver a similar purpose-built quarantine facility in Victoria, and I am pleased that we will be able to draw on their experience and expertise to deliver this centre in Queensland,” said Minister Birmingham.

MoU Signed for Pinkenba Quarantine Facility

The Pinkenba Quarantine Facility is now one step closer to opening up after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Commonwealth has forged an agreement with the Queensland Government to build a 1,000-bed quarantine facility by mid-2022. Located at a 30-hectare lot within the Damascus Barracks, the site is in proximity to the Brisbane Airport, cruise terminals, and hospitals. 

Despite Queensland’s success in controlling coronavirus outbreaks, the region remains vulnerable to transmissions at the borders. Whilst vaccination has been ramped up, threats of the virus, especially with the more dominant and highly transmissible Delta variant, looms.

“Following countless breaches from the nation’s hotel quarantine system it’s clear there is an urgent need for more fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities throughout Australia,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said. 

“With NSW and Victoria in lockdown, we cannot afford more leaks from hotel quarantine.”

Photo Credit: Ozatwar/Australian Government

Construction of the Pinkenba Quarantine Facility will be financed by the Commonwealth whilst Queensland will provide the services once it’s opened. 

“Until all Australians have been offered a vaccination, quarantine facilities will remain Australia’s frontline in preventing deadly new strains of COVID-19 from entering our community,” Mr Miles added. 

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government will also build another quarantine facility near the airport at Wellcamp, Toowoomba. Construction of this site will start by Christmas 2021.