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Community calls on Vanstone to get kids out of detention: 96 children still behind razor wire.



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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Minister for Population and Immigraton

Community Calls on Vanstone to Get Kids Out of Detention - 96 children still behind razor wire

Community leaders and children’s groups today joined with the Labor Party to call on new Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to mark the beginning of Children’s Week and Refugee Week by releasing all children from Australian detention centres. M

E D I A R E L E A S E

“There are currently over 186 kids being held by Australia in detention - 96 are on Australian soil, and the rest in Nauru,” Labor’s immigration spokesperson Nicola Roxon told a community gathering outside Senator Vanstone’s Adelaide office today.

Ms Roxon said many of these children have been in detention for over two years.

“We call on Senator Vanstone to mark this year’s Children’s Week by getting children those into the playground, and out of the prison yard,” Ms Roxon said.

“There is a consistent view across the community that all children have the right to grow up in loving and caring environment, with the chance to play and explore - this cannot happen behind the razor wire.

“Senator Vanstone should do what her predecessor Philip Ruddock could not bring himself to do and make a decision that lets children develop in a caring, open and free environment.”

Ms Roxon suggested the new Minister start her job with the following actions:

1. Immediately release all children from detention. 2. Stop spending public money on court cases arguing to keep children behind razor wire. 3. Urgently reassess all people in detention who have been there for more than 90 days, using a publicly accountable process.

4. Introduce a Green Card for all non-citizens who have work rights and implement sanctions against businesses and employers who use illegal workers to undercut Australian wages and conditions.

5. Stop dehumanising and demonising asylum seekers. 6. Boost funding to UNHCR to provide more support to countries of first asylum. 7. Close immigration processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. 8. Introduce a special humanitarian visa category for the East Timorese. 9. Introduce a transparent, accountable and fair procedure for the exercise of Ministerial

discretion. 10. Take urgent action to investigate allegations about government officials promoting and encouraging passport and travel fraud by failed asylum seekers being deported from Australia.

Attached - what some community members say about getting kids out of detention.

For more information call: Nicola Roxon or David Robinson on (03) 9687 7355 or 0427 519 394

Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Minister for Population and Immigraton

For more information call: Nicola Roxon or David Robinson on (03) 9687 7355 or 0427 519 394

What people say about children in detention

"The basic philosophy of Playgroups is that children learn through play. Learning through play in the early years of a child's life can have a lasting impact. All children deserve the chance to learn through play. Children being held in detention do not have the chance to play in a way that allows them to fully develop - they cannot explore, experiment or experience adventure. Australia should not take away a child's right play."

Gill Murphy, Playgroups (SA)

“The committee is also aware that the minister announced an expansion of the residential housing project in August 2002 and has recently announced the development of an RHP at Port Augusta, which will provide alternative arrangements closer to the Baxter facility. Since the announced

expansion of the RHP in August last year, however, a total of only 21 women and children have been provided with alternative arrangements. The committee is concerned at the slow rate of progress for alternative arrangements for women and children. Despite announcements that the criteria would be expanded for women and children who participate in alternative detention arrangements, to date the overwhelming majority of women and children are still being housed in inappropriate detention

facilities.”

Liberal Senator Marise Payne, Chair, Human Rights Sub-committee of Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade.

“A detention centre is no home for a child. Action needs to be taken to ensure the removal of children from detention is of the highest priority.” Dr Sev Ozdowski, Human Rights Commissioner

“Refugee children share certain universal rights with all other people, have additional rights as children and particular rights as refugees. The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a comprehensive framework to guide the development of policy and practices that relate to children…

Recommendations…

• Families with children and unaccompanied minors should be placed in the community while their claims are assessed… • In the event that an application for refugee status is unsuccessful and families and unaccompanied monitors cannot return to their home country, families and unaccompanied

minors should continue to live in the community until such time as they can return home… • If detention centres continue to be used as a strategy for managing asylum seekers while their claims for refugee status are assessed then these centres need to be located in major population

centres. This will ensure access to the range of services that are needed by children and their families.” Excerpt from Australian Early Childhood Association policy statement

See also report by the Australian Parliamentary Library - Children in Detention - for an excellent overview and links to resources regarding the issue of children in detention at: http://www.aph.gov.au/library/intguide/SP/Childrendetention.htm