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Release the children and unite the families.

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



Today’s media reports that Minister Ruddock’s own independent advisory body, IDAG (Immigration Detention Advisory Group), has already written to him requesting he allow family groups, including fathers, the option to live outside the razor wire of Woomera endorses Labor’s six month campaign to get the children out.

Numerous independent reports have been urging the Government for some time to adopt Labor’s policy of releasing all children from high security detention. Children in detention witness riots, suicides, hunger strikes and other forms of self harm. Whatever view one holds about the appropriate way of dealing with asylum seekers, children are the innocent ones in a situation not of their making and beyond their control.

Since January this year, Labor has been calling on the Howard Government to get the children out from behind the razor wire by: • Putting unaccompanied minors into foster care; and • By extending the current alternative detention trial in Woomera township in which women

and children are living in ordinary style housing under supervision. Labor believes this model could go further and be used for housing family groups and that children living in such arrangements could go to ordinary schools.

Labor also renews its call for the closure of Woomera. No-one should be held in such a facility, especially when the much better $40 million Baxter facility lies idle.

The Howard Government’s refusal to get children and families out from high security detention and to close Woomera is driven by belligerence and political game playing, rather than a desire to implement long term comprehensive solutions.

When will all Government MPs start pushing for change to protect these children in our care and reunite these split families? Labor will continue to demand an approach which is both tough on border security but more compassionate in the way it deals with asylum seekers.

Friday 2 August 2002

For further information contact: Julia Gillard on 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall, Adviser, on (02) 6277 4349 or 0408 419 699