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Unauthorised boat arrivals: one child in a detention centre.

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Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation

VPS 096.04

Monday, 5th July 2004

Unauthorised Boat Arrivals: One Child in a Detention Centre

Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, today announced that as at c.o.b. today only one child, whose parents were unauthorised boat arrivals, is in a mainland detention centre.

“His mother was offered a place at the Residential Housing Project in Port Augusta but chose to remain at Baxter with the father at least for the first few months of the child’s life.

“Many people do not realise that out of the thousands of unauthorised boat arrivals from 2000/2001, over 8,500 people are out in the community on protection visas.

“Those few who remain in detention do so because they have been found not to be refugees and are currently challenging that decision in tribunals and Courts.

“Nonetheless, the Government has consistently worked over the past three years to find better alternatives for women and children in detention.

“The consistent aim of the Government has been to reduce the number of women and children in detention centres. This is highlighted by the announcement in this year’s Budget of $27.4 million over 4 years for new Residential Housing Projects in Sydney and Perth and other alternative detention arrangements.

“The alternative detention options offered by the Government are much greater than those ever offered by Labor and include: • Residential Housing Projects • Foster care arrangements with state welfare authorities

• Community care placements for people with special needs

“Aside from the one remaining child at Baxter, there are around 30 children of routine compliance cases in mainland detention centres. These children’s parents either overstayed their visa or breached their visa conditions and are awaiting removal.

“There are 11 Vietnamese children on Christmas Island who are appealing decisions that they are not refugees.

“Following the Government’s agreement with the UNHCR last year to review the Australian Afghani caseload 146 Afghanis, including 55 children, were reassessed as being refugees after changed conditions in Afghanistan. All will be resettled in Australia. Some have already arrived. The remainder are expected to have arrived by week ending Friday 16th July. That will leave 19 children in total on Nauru.”

Minister’s Media Contact: Megan Lees 0416 059 859