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Ruddock's HREOC submission a whitewash.

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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Population & Immigration



Philip Ruddock’s report to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission inquiry into children in detention is nothing more than an absurd whitewash.

The report, released yesterday, stated:

“My Department’s submission clearly shows Australia meets its duty of care to those in detention, including children, and has a continuous record of improvement, especially in the areas of health, education and recreational programs.”

How can Minister Ruddock reconcile this statement with the following facts: ! That child health specialists have repeatedly called for the release of children from detention because of the risks to their physical and emotional well being and development; ! That the recent “Damaging Kids” report of the Catholic Commission of

Justice, Development and Peace detailed that in the eight months between 1 March 2001 and 30 October 2001 there were 264 incidents of self-harm reported in detention centres in which children live; ! That members of the Minister’s own detention advisory group have expressed real concern about the damage to children caused by the detention environment; and ! That apart from the limited number of children who attend external schooling, children in detention do not have access to full schooling.

Minister Ruddock might also like to explain why of the 230 submissions to the HREOC inquiry only one - his - is in favour of keeping children in detention.

Whitewash won’t hide the problems faced by these children. It is time the Minister stopped denying the truth and acted to end the suffering of these children. The Minister should immediately implement Labor’s plan to get children out of detention by fostering unaccompanied minors and expanding alternate detention arrangements like the successful Woomera trial.

Thursday 30 May 2002

For further information contact: Julia Gillard, MP or Jamie Snashall (Advise) on 02 6277 4349