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Government meets commitment on community detention



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CHRIS BOWEN MP

MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

MEDIA RELEASE

29 June 2011

GOVERNMENT MEETS COMMITMENT ON COMMUNITY DETENTION

The Gillard Government has delivered on its commitment to move the majority of children in immigration detention into community-based arrangements, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.

On 18 October 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister Bowen announced that the Government would move the majority of children and a significant number of vulnerable families into community detention by the end of June this year.

“The Government has met this important commitment, with 531 children - both unaccompanied minors and those with family members - currently residing in community-based accommodation,” Mr Bowen said.

“An additional 57 children will transfer into the community in coming days, making that 62 per cent of children in community-based arrangements.”

This will mean the total number of people in community detention is 1203 - 615 adults and 588 children.

“This is a great achievement and I thank all organisations who have committed to the successful implementation of this program, including the Australian Red Cross and its service delivery partners, my Ministerial Council of Immigration Services and Status Resolution (CISSR), and my department,” Mr Bowen said.

The Minister today also announced the closure of the Virginia Palms alternative place of detention (APOD) in Brisbane and the Asti Hotel APOD in Darwin. The last people accommodated at the Virginia Palms and the Asti Hotel have now been relocated.

“The successful implementation of the community detention program has meant that we have been able to close less suitable detention accommodation,” Mr Bowen said.

“When the number of unaccompanied minors at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) falls to about 50, I have asked the department to operate this facility as a more open, hostel-style facility for unaccompanied minors.”

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will commence consultations on the changes to the MITA in coming weeks, and the new style of accommodation is expected to be in place during the second half of this year. Media Contacts: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802 / Laura Stevens 0432 833 769