The Australian Government should not be blamed for the detention of an Australian aid worker, says the CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation, Brian Doolan.
Ms Pippi Bean, an Australian employed by the International Organisation for Migration, was detained for seven days in Libya, and reports have criticised the efforts of the Australian Government and Foreign Minister Bob Carr to secure her safe release.
“My understanding is that the Australian Government was working hard behind the scenes to help,” says Mr Doolan.
“Situations like this can be life and death and you can’t play it out in the headlines. Sometimes the most important work is never known,” says Mr Doolan.
Mr Doolan has first hand experience in similar situations. He was Director of Human Resources at Care Australia when three of its workers, including Australians Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace were held in captivity by Serbian militia in 1999.
“It was some days before we knew if they were alive. The first news was Steve Pratt appearing on international TV being accused of spying,” says Mr Doolan.
Mr Doolan worked alongside Malcolm Fraser, the Chairman of Care Australia, for 10 months to ensure the men returned home safely.
“The Australian Government played a key role and I am very familiar with their capabilities in these types of situations. They did remarkable work behind the scenes and out of the press,” says Mr Doolan.
He says The Fred Hollows Foundation has staff working in places such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“It is the duty of aid organisations to ensure they have the systems and processes in place to protect staff working in high risk situations,” says Mr Doolan.