On Thursday police reinforcements were flown to Christmas Island (map, from bbcimg.co.uk), off the north-west coast of Western Australia, after buildings were set on fire by some 250 detainees, who also attacked security staff.
And after days of unrest Australian police have fired tear gas in order to suppress rioting asylum seekers at the Island detention centre.
Inmates say they are protesting against living conditions and the time it takes to process their asylum applications.
Christmas Island is home to more than 2,500 asylum seekers, some of whom have been reportedly held for 18 months.
Arbitrary long-term detention can lead to mental health problems, said Human rights groups.
After a steady surge of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia’s northern waters, the centre is overcrowded.
Last year more than 6,500 asylum seekers arrived in the country, coming mostly from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Protesters destroyed two compounds at the prison-like centre and threw bricks and concrete blocks, police said.
This is the latest incident in almost a week of similar riots and break-outs at the facility.
The riots were condemned as “completely unacceptable” by Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd.
“How can you expect our officials to process applications for asylum when that sort of thing is happening?” he said in a televised statement.
Mr Rudd added that there would be no relaxation of the rules.
In the meantime Immigration minister Chris Bowen said police were firmly back in control at the centre.
“Last night buildings were damaged, fires were lit and there were violent approaches to the Australian Federal Police,” he said.
To bring the protesters under control the authorities used tear gas and “beanbag” bullets – mini beanbags fired out of a gun-like weapon.
And to support the 118-strong force already on the island, another 70 police will be sent, said Mr Bowen.
Because of the continued unrest, this week the Immigration Department announced that almost 100 asylum seekers had been transferred from Christmas Island to Darwin.
According to ABC another 500 asylum seekers may also be transferred to Darwin from the island in coming weeks.
Overcrowding and long delays were contributing to a level of frustration which had contributed “significant and serious” incidents at Christmas Island, said Mr Bowen.
The government announced earlier this month that in order to relieve overcrowding on Christmas Island, a new immigration detention centre would be built in the northern city of Darwin.
But according to Tony Abbott, the conservative opposition leader, the detention system is “in crisis”.
His party thinks that in order to dissuade more boats from arriving with more asylum seekers harsher measures must be taken.