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Detention still no good for children.

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12 April 2002

Detention still no good for children

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission welcomes yesterday's statement from Immigration Minister Mr Philip Ruddock about Federal Government plans to scale down Woomera as an immigration reception and processing centre.

Human Rights Commissioner Dr Sev Ozdowski said it was a step in the right direction and called on the Government to continue to explore ways of removing children and their families from detention.

"A detention centre is no home for a child," said Dr Ozdowski. "Action needs to be taken to ensure the removal of children from detention is of the highest priority."

The Commission raised serious concerns about conditions for children at Woomera with the Government and in a 6 February 2002 media statement following a fact-finding mission to the centre in January.

The Commission raised concerns about incidents of self-harm, saying they indicated children were responding to the "atmosphere of despair" in which they lived; and raised concerns about other indications of psychological trauma and the adequacy of schooling provided. The Commission said there were breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and called for the Government to indicate how these breaches would be "immediately rectified".

The Commission's full report on Woomera has been sent to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs for a formal response to the concerns raised. The report will be sent to the Federal Attorney-General Mr Daryl Williams for tabling in federal parliament.

Dr Ozdowski said that the Children in Immigration Detention Inquiry -announced on 28 November 2001 - will continue to examine the facilities available for child asylum-seekers at Woomera and elsewhere, to ensure Australia is meeting its obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC).

Further information about the Inquiry is available at

Media contact: Janine MacDonald (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347

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