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Tuesday, 28 May 2002
Page: 2548


Mrs Irwin asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 14 March 2002:

(1) How many persons under the age of 18 years are currently detained at the Villawood Detention Centre.

(2) How many persons under the age of 18 at Villawood are (a) in family groups and (b) not accompanied by a parent.

(3) What facilities and programs are in place at Villawood for pre-school children.

(4) Are pre-school programs conducted in languages other than English; if not, why not.

(5) Has his Department attempted to place pre-school children in preschools outside the Villawood Detention Centre; if not, why not.

(6) What facilities and programs are in place at Villawood for primary school aged children.

(7) Has his Department attempted to place primary school aged children in schools outside the Villawood Detention Centre; if not, why not.

(8) Are primary school programs conducted in languages other than English; if not, why not.

(9) Are English language classes available for primary school aged children; if not, why not.

(10) What subjects are taught at primary school classes at Villawood.

(11) For how many hours each day and for how many days each week are primary classes available.

(12) Are educational programs for primary school aged children at Villawood accredited by the NSW Department of Education and Training; if not, why not.

(13) What facilities and programs are available at Villawood for children above primary school age.

(14) For how many hours each day and for how many days each week are secondary classes available.

(15) Are secondary programs conducted in languages other than English; if not, why not.

(16) Are English language classes available for secondary school aged children; if not, why not.

(17) Are educational programs for secondary school aged children at Villawood accredited by the NSW Department of Education and Training; if not, why not.

(18) What facilities and programs are available for persons under 18 years at the Villawood Detention Centre for post secondary or vocational training.


Mr Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) As of 5 April 2002, there were 22 persons under the age of 18 detained at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

(2) As of 5 April 2002, there were: (a) 20 persons under the age of 18 at Villawood are in family groups; and (b) 2 persons under the age of 18 at Villawood are not accompanied by a parent.

(3) The following facilities and programs are in place at Villawood for pre-school children:

· Pre-school classes are conducted at the centre twice weekly;

· A fully-equipped and resourced children's play room;

· 2 hour play sessions, five days a week; and

· Weekend movie time and special treats for all children.

(4) Pre-school programs are not conducted in languages other than English. Due to the transitory nature of the detainee population at the centre and the large number of different languages spoken by detainees, pre-school education is provided in English.

In addition to this, there are usually very few children in this age group. As of 5 April 2002, there were only 2 children at the centre who were of pre-school age.

(5) My Department has not attempted to place children in pre-schools outside Villawood since a qualified pre-school teacher is employed to provide education to children of pre-school age at the centre.

(6) The following facilities and programs are in place at Villawood for primary school aged children:

· A fully resourced school room with trained and qualified teachers;

· Planned excursions outside the centre twice a month;

· Weekend movie time and special treats for all children; and

· Activities with 2 external groups, `Youth With a Mission' and `Project Crayon'. These two groups provide special arts and crafts and a variety of recreation and leisure activities for the primary school aged children at the centre.

(7) During preliminary discussions between the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) and local schools last year, the issue of funding for students who are in Australia without a valid visa was raised by the schools as a barrier to allowing the enrolment of children at schools in the community.

Besides an individual case where a child was transferred to an alternative place of detention in the community and attended a public school in Sydney last year, there have been no other primary school aged children educated in schools outside Villawood.

However, a qualified primary school teacher is employed at the centre and provides primary school education to children at the centre.

(8) Primary school programs are conducted in English and Urdu languages although the emphasis is placed on English. This is due to the relatively small number of children at the centre and the wide variety of languages which they speak.

(9) English classes are part of the daily curriculum for primary school aged children at the centre.

(10) Some of the key learning areas stipulated by the NSW Department of Education are taught at Villawood. These key learning areas include English, Maths and Human Society and Its Environment, with priority given to English.

(11) Primary school classes are conducted for five hours each weekday, 48 weeks a year.

(12) Education programs for primary school aged children at Villawood are not accredited by the NSW Department of Education and Training but DIMIA and ACM are currently working towards accreditation being granted later this year.

(13) Secondary and primary school are combined due to the low and variable numbers of children at the centre. Therefore, the facilities and programs available to secondary school aged children are:

· A fully resourced school room with trained and qualified teachers;

· Planned excursions outside the centre twice a month;

· Weekend movie time and special treats for all children; and

· Activities with 2 external groups, `Youth With a Mission' and `Project Crayon'. These two groups provide special arts and crafts and a variety of recreation and leisure activities for the primary school aged children at the centre.

(14) Like primary school classes, secondary school classes are conducted for five hours each weekday, 48 weeks a year.

(15) Like primary school programs, secondary school programs are conducted in English and Urdu languages although the emphasis is placed on English. This is due to the relatively small number of children at the centre and the wide variety of languages which they speak. For example, as of 5 April 2002, there were only 2 children at the centre in the secondary school age group.

(16) English classes are part of the daily curriculum for secondary school aged children at the centre.

(17) Education programs for secondary aged children at Villawood are not accredited by the NSW Department of Education and Training but DIMIA and ACM are currently working towards accreditation being granted later this year.

(18) The following facilities are available for persons under 18 at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) for post-secondary or vocational training:

There is an incentive development program involving behaviour management of all school-aged children. There are two outings for children each month and subject to satisfactory school attendance and behaviour and general centre behaviour, school-aged children are able to go on these outings; and

In addition, there is a full range of training programs available for detainees under the age of 18 years in Villawood IDC that focuses on skills that may be of use in the general community or within a detention facility, such as computer literacy and English language.