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Monday, 30 August 2021
Page: 37

Senator HENDERSON (Victoria) (13:59): [by video link] As I raised in the Herald Sun today, public health restrictions which force children to remain separated from their parents must be immediately overturned. This sort of treatment of children in our country is completely untenable. The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities makes it clear that the rights of the child are absolute. In Victoria, a number of children have suffered acute stress and mental health impacts after being denied permits to cross the border and return home to their families. As the Victorian Ombudsman indicated, this may constitute a serious breach of the charter. In Victoria there are no specific permits or exemptions for minors. It took 15-year-old Talia Wale a real battle and three weeks to return to Victoria, and now there are four farming families who are facing a similar situation. On a day when we have learned about another tragic suicide in our community, this is not good enough. We need national standards so that the interests of children are paramount. To Daniel Andrews, I say: enough is enough.