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Chifley child should be freed from Villawood Detention Centre.

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Media Release

Chifley child should be freed from Villawood Detention Centre 22/3/2005

Federal Member for Chifley, Roger Price, has criticised the Howard Government for locking up a Rooty Hill High School student in Villawood Detention Centre.

“Fourteen-year-old Sylvester Aben and his mother were detained on 4 February this year and have remained in Villawood Detention Centre since then,” Mr Price said.

“It is heartless to put a child in detention,” Mr Price said.

“It’s all very well for Peter McGauran to send out a media release this week about Harmony Day celebrations, but talk is cheap when you allow a child to remain locked up in detention.

“Detaining children does not make for a harmonic society. It is cruel and pointless.

“It is also irresponsible for a Government to prevent a child from attending school.

“This incident has been extremely distressing for our students at Rooty Hill High School. A group of friends has visited Sly, as they call him, at Villawood Detention Centre and seen the awful conditions he is enduring. The full force of the Howard Government’s immigration policy has really hit home to them.

“Sylvester has lived in Australia since 1996. His family has become a part of the local community and have formed strong links with the local CTJ Filipino church.

“Sylvester’s friends describe him as ‘a great guy, a wonderful role model…a humble person who has never been in trouble at school and who loves the guitar and playing basketball’.”

“Members of the local community have come forward to offer their assistance and would be more than happy to take Sylvester in so he can complete his studies in Australia.

“Although Sylvester’s mother should not have overstayed her visa, there is no reason why a child should be punished for her mistake.

“If this Government has any decency it will release Sylvester and his mother and allow them to live in the community until the matter is resolved,” Mr Price said.