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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1573

U naccompanied Humanitarian Minor Program

(Question No. 1314)


Ms Gambaro asked the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in writing, on 28 November 2012:

(1) Is it a fact that the Minister is the 'guardian' of Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs) who have received a protection visa; and if so, (a) please detail how (i) the delegation of the Minister's guardianship responsibilities are transferred to another jurisdiction, (ii) how UHMs are able to obtain services without an effective guardian, and (iii) the department keeps track of such delegation transfers; and if not, (b) please detail (i) who is responsible for the provision of settlement services to UHMs, and (ii) what eligibility criteria are applied in coordinating the transfer of care arrangements.

(2) What coordinated support arrangements are in place for UHMs transferring between different state/territory jurisdictions?

(3) Since 1 December 2007, and by way of monthly breakdown, in (a) 2007-2008, (b) 2008-09, (c) 2009-2010, (d) 2010-11, (e) 2011-12, and (f) 2012-13 (to date), how many delegated guardianship transfers for UHMs were undertaken.


Mr Brendan O'Connor: The answers to the honourable member's question is:

(1) Under the IGOC Act, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship is the guardian of non-citizen children who:

have not turned 18 years of age;

are not Australian citizens;

arrived in Australia without their parents or a relative who had turned 21 years of age, or did not have a parent or relative over the age of 21 years who was already in Australia and with whom they intended to live, and;

intend to live permanently in Australia.

The Minister is the guardian of those unaccompanied minors who fall within the definition set out above. A small proportion of unaccompanied minors do not fall within the definition in the IGOC Act and the Minister is not the guardian of these minors. The Minister is guardian of the majority of unaccompanied minors who enter the UHM Program following the grant of a Protection visa.

(a) (i) Section 5 of the IGOC Act provides that the Minister may delegate his powers and functions under the Act to an officer of the Commonwealth or of any State or Territory. By way of an Instrument of Delegation, the Minister has delegated many of his powers and functions under the Act to officers of the Department and of State and Territory Child Welfare Agencies.

   (ii) As noted above, the Minister is the legal guardian of most UHMs. His guardianship responsibilities are carried out by officers exercising delegated guardianship. UHMs for whom the Minister is not guardian (often referred to as non-wards), are provided with support services under the UHM Program in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Non-ward minors who have travelled to Australia without a parent are usually in the care of a relative and receive support through Humanitarian Settlement Services and other DIAC-funded settlement programs.

   (iii) An Instrument of Delegation signed by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship specifies which functions under the IGOC Act are delegated to particular positions. Where a minor for whom the Minister is guardian seeks to live with a relative or other suitable community member following the grant of a permanent visa, the Department will ask the relevant State or Territory Child Welfare Agency to accept delegated guardianship in accordance with the Instrument, in relation to that child. Following an assessment of the proposed care arrangements, the Child Welfare Agency will advise whether it accepts delegated guardianship.

Senior departmental officers exercise delegated guardianship responsibilities in relation to minors for whom the Minister is guardian who are placed with a contracted service provider following the grant of a Protection visa.

(b) Please refer to response 1314(a) (iii).

(2) Where a UHM for whom the Minister is guardian transfers to a different state or territory or between care by a contracted service provider and placement with an individual in the community, arrangements will be made to ensure delegated guardianship for the minor is transferred to the relevant officer.

(3) (a) The Department is unable to provide data for the 2007-08 financial year.

(b) The Department is unable to provide data for the 2008-09 financial year.

(c) The table below outlines the monthly breakdown of referrals of clients from Commonwealth delegated guardianship to State and Territory Government delegated guardianship of UHMs undertaken in the 2009-10 financial year.

Month

Number of transfers

Jul-09

15

Aug-09

9

Sep-09

54

Oct-09

15

Nov-09

26

Dec-09

15

Jan-10

12

Feb-10

13

Mar-10

20

Apr-10

13

May-10

4

Jun-10

9

Total

205

 

(d) The table below outlines the monthly breakdown of delegated guardian transfers for UHMs undertaken in the 2010-11 financial year.

Month

Number of transfers

Jul-10

7

Aug-10

13

Sep-10

12

Oct-10

6

Nov-10

13

Dec-10

5

Jan-11

11

Feb-11

5

Mar-11

13

Apr-11

6

May-11

22

Jun-11

13

Total

126

 

(e) The table below outlines the monthly breakdown of delegated guardian transfers for UHMs undertaken in the 2011-12 financial year.

Month

Number of transfers

Jul-11

11

Aug-11

19

Sep-11

11

Oct-11

17

Nov-11

10

Dec-11

5

Jan-12

9

Feb-12

15

Mar-12

16

Apr-12

10

May-12

24

Jun-12

13

Total

160

 

(f) The table below outlines the monthly breakdown of delegated guardian transfers for UHMs undertaken in the 2012-13 financial year, as at 31 October 2012.

Month

Number of transfers

Jul-12

19

Aug-12

13

Sep-12

15

Oct-12

18

Total

65

*Figures provided in tables under 1314 capture arrivals only and are not a reflection of the overall numbers in the UHM program.