Greens push to keep children out of detention
Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 5:21 am
The Australian Greens will move to amend immigration laws, to ensure children seeking asylum in Australia are kept out of detention.
Immigration Spokesperson for the Greens, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young announced the plans in Melbourne this week.
The Greens aim to amend existing Immigration laws to free more than 700 children and their families from detention facilities in and offshore Australia.
Senator Hanson-Young made the announcement alongside Australian of the Year, Dr Patrick McGorry.
Senator Hanson-Young said there are currently 723 children in detention, which is highly unacceptable in today’s society.
“The Greens have announced a plan to exempt children from mandatory detention, and to allow their families to apply to join them in appropriate community housing,” she said.
“It’s important that we provide proper resources and support to organisations in the community who have experience dealing with asylum-seekers, particularly people who have suffered torture and trauma.”
The proposed changes have been welcomed by many groups within the community, who are also keen to see children exempt from detention.
Pamela Kerr of The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s said the government has failed many children seeking protection in our country.
“Their guardian under the Australian law is the Minster for Immigration, he is also simultaneously their jailer,” she said.
“We have proposed other models to the government many times before, as alternatives to having the children and their families in detention.
“It doesn’t do anything for their mental well-being and some of the traumatic experiences they have had are awful.
“I have visited many of the camps myself and there are children that have seen their parents killed, so these children need proper resources and attention.”
The Federal Labor government in 2007 proposed to keep children out of detention and move itself away from the Howard government’s policies on dealing with asylum seekers.
Instead children and their families are held in centres not surrounded by barbed wire.
Kate Gaultier from the Refugee Council said the government should be doing more for the protection of young asylum seekers.
“No matter whether the children are behind razor wire, there are still security guards and fences to ensure they are kept in detention,” she said.
“The government is effectively failing these children and their families, and I think people have to understand how detrimental it is to their overall health.”
The Greens will take their plans to parliament within the next two weeks for discussions.
The Department for Immigration was unable to comment on the Greens’ proposals, with Chris Bowen attending to work in East Timor.