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Releasing children from detention: a testament to the community voice

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18th October 2010 4:52 pm

The Australian Greens welcome the Federal Government's announcement of a change of policy on detention of children, as a welcome first step to a more humane approach, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Immigration, says the decision to remove children and unaccompanied minors and some family members from immigration detention is testament to the long public campaign by the Greens, key NGOs and concerned members of the community.

"I want to congratulate Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, for acting swiftly, and for recognising the need for a more compassionate approach to vulnerable young asylum-seekers,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"This points to a maturity of the political process, where we have put aside the petty politics of fearmongering to make a necessary and humane decision.

"This is broadly in line with what the Greens have been pushing for, about the need to get children, unaccompanied minors and families out of detention, and to involve community experts who have experience in dealing with vulnerable people to help provide a more caring and open environment.

"This is a welcome first step, but we must ensure this policy is enshrined in legislation by giving a long-term solution to an unacceptable regime. This requires putting in place legal safeguards to protect children and young people. We can't simply rely on the goodwill of a

compassionate Federal minister.

"The Government is using existing powers put in place by the Howard Government some years ago. We know how quickly moves to improve conditions for vulnerable asylum-seekers can be reversed. The Greens will continue to pursue amendments to the Migration Act to exempt children and minors from the mandatory provisions, and set a time limit for the detention of adults,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

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