UNICEF Australia has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by Federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to move all children from mainland immigration detention by the end of 2014.
The announcement echoes a sector-wide call by child-rights and child-welfare organisations to remove children from immigration detention, and lobbying to review the health, welfare and long-term impact of Australia’s detention policies on children.
“Today’s announcement by the Federal Government and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is a welcome first step in ensuring all children who come to Australia seeking asylum are guaranteed their basic rights by our Government,” UNICEF Australia chief executive officer Norman Gillespie said.
“No child should be detained. This is an obligation our Government committed to meet when it signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we will continue to work with Minister Morrison and the Federal Immigration Department to ensure all children who arrive seeking asylum are not deprived of their rights,” he said.
“We should not be playing favourites with children. Our government needs to ensure they meet their obligations to all children.”
Dr Gillespie said all children under the age of 18 who are in detention, including the 300 children reported to still be detained with families on Christmas Island and on Nauru should be given the same consideration as children aged 10 years and under in mainland detention.
“We look forward to the details of this arrangement and a commitment that ensures children and families will be kept together,” he said.
“Children are suffering in immigration detention. This is a solution for children in mainland detention, but there are children and families on Nauru and Christmas Island who will continue to suffer.”
Dr Gillespie said that in June, UNICEF Australia called for an independent body to monitor and publicly report on the situation and treatment of children in Australian immigration detention. UNICEF Australia, along with other child rights organisations, requested that an independent monitor be given access to immigration detention to review children’s access to core services, basic living conditions, their mental and physical health, and mitigate abuse, violence and exploitation.
Source: UNICEF Australia