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Greens will work to make detention policy changes a reality

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18th October 2010 9:24 am

Today's news from the Federal Government is finally an acknowledgement that it has got it wrong on the detention of children, and the Australian Greens welcome the commitment by the Minister to fix the problem, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Immigration, says reports of an imminent release of hundreds of asylum-seekers into the community are welcome, and a victory for the long-term campaign by the Greens, key NGOs and concerned members of the community against detention of children. But she says the Government must eliminate all doubt by enshrining any changes in legislation.

"There are few details available, but If media reports are correct, then this is very good news,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"The Greens have been vocal in calling for a change to the way Australia treats young asylum-seekers, so if the Federal Government is finally acknowledging that vulnerable children do not belong in detention, then that is a good start.

"But the many Australians who oppose the detention of children remember all too well what happened under the dark days of the Howard Government - how children were detained for far too long, then when a new government had the chance, it failed to shut the door forever on this inhumane policy through legislation. This failure must not be repeated.''

The Greens have announced a plan to deal with children and unaccompanied minors in detention, through amendments to the Migration Act to exempt them from the mandatory provisions of the act.

The plan also calls for an expansion of the Community Assistance Support program - which provides asylum-seekers in the community with key services - with appropriate funding and resources to cover all children and minors as well as their parents and caregivers.

"The Greens have a plan to put children and families going through immigration processes in the community where they belong. If the Government is serious about reforming the system, then it should take a look at our plan and then work together to make it a reality," Senator Hanson-Young said.