Refugee children in detention
There are more than 6500 people in immigration detention across Australia, including more than 1000 children. As of late January 2011, more than 3500 of those people had been detained for longer than six months. The Australian Human Rights Commission has produced a report on the detention centre in Leonora (located in outback Western Australia) which houses families and children. The Commission raised concerns about the living conditions, and the impact that prolonged detention can have on people’s mental health.
Australia’s system of mandatory and indefinite immigration detention was among key concerns raised by the international community during the recent United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Australia’s human rights record. 2011 Immigration detention in Leonora: Summary of observations from visit to immigration detention facility in Leonora highlights the problems being faced by families and children wanting to remain in Australia. George Williams has outlined very clearly the response of our legal system to such children in 'Law is no hindrance to locking up children', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2011.
If you are interested in this issue, you might want to read our other blog posts concerning asylum seekers. It seems that the law has not changed concerning children held in detention. The following articles are available on AGIS Plus, which you can access if you have registered with the State Library and have a library card.
- 'Seeking asylum alone: the treatment of unaccompanied and separated children in Australia’s refugee determination process' by Mary Crock (2006) 42 Australian Children’s Rights News 1,3-12
- 'Children in immigration detention: the policy, the practice, the prognosis' by Barbara Rogalla (2004) 37 Australian Children’s Rights News 10-11
It will be interesting to follow the Government’s response to the orphans from the Christmas Island boat accident last December. Nine year old Seena Akhlaqi Sheikhdost and two other children who lost family members in the accident have been placed in 'community detention' following a public outcry in response to seeing media reports of Seena attending his father’s funeral and then being returned to Christmas Island. Media reports about this event:
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