- Australia treat every child seeking asylum with dignity and in line with our international obligations.
- Federal legislation to ensure no child is detained in an Australian immigration detention centre (or any such renamed facility) for more than 14 days. Any facility children are kept in should be appropriate and the care for unaccompanied minors particularly considered.
- The appointment of an independent guardian for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Australia.
Above all ChilOut wishes to place the issue of asylum seeking children into the realm of child’s rights and child protection. The decision of whether a child is found to be a refugee is an immigration issue: how that child is treated whilst awaiting the decision, is a child protection issue. All children regardless of race, religion, class or immigration status should be covered by child protection laws. There should never be a loophole for child abuse or neglect.
Specific aims for 2014 are:
- The formation of a child expert panel to advise the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) et al on children in immigration detention
- Ensure an end to remote, indefinite detention of children on Manus Island or Nauru.
- The expansion of community detention options, more places, less time in detention (particularly for children and families).
- Genuine exploration of 'open centres'. As Australia used to have, designated places to live that allow freedom, adults are able to work and children attend local schools.
- No re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas.
- Wherever detention does exist for children, ensure conditions are in keeping with Australian standards and best practice for education, healthcare, recreation and living conditions.
2001 - ChilOut formed. The suffering of 6 year old Shayan Badraie was aired on ABC's Four Corners. Very quickly ChilOut drew the support of many thousands of Australian parents and citizens who were against the detention of children.
2005 - Our campaign was put on hold after amendments were made to the Migration Act. Following a HREOC report, children would now only be detained as a last resort. All children were released from secure detention facilities and the ChilOut Board, volunteers and supporters sighed a big happy sigh.
2008 - ALP Government releases its Key Immigration Detention Values statement. Essentially a great set of policy intentions, this stated that children (including foreign fishers) would not be held in IDCs and that for all people, detention in IDCs would be used 'as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time'. The reality however is that these values have never been put into place.
It was also in 2008 that the Government opened the Christmas Island Detention Centre and began detaining children there. Despite the many names given to types of detention, ChilOut maintains that asylum seeker children there are in detention plain and simple. HREOC has clearly stated that asylum seeker children should not be held on Christmas Island.
2009 - now Although there has been no official change to 2005 amendments or the values statement, children are being detained as the first option and often for lengthy periods. Unaccompanied minors as young as 6 years old are being held in remote, completely inappropriate conditions and the known damage to children is wilfully continuing every day on Christmas Island and around Australia. So, here we are again, ChilOut is revived and we will campaign to ensure the rights of these children are upheld.
2013 - ongoing ChilOut has formed the first national roundtable of child experts looking at issues affecting asylum seeker children in detention. These experts come from within and outside the refugee sector. We are united in wanting to see changes that focus on the rights of the child, best interests of the child, utilise best practice already in existence in Australia and above all end any system that abuses the rights of children. The group meets twice/yr, makes Ministerial and other advocacy approaches and has a focus on rights, health and development.
Who are these children?
They are aged zero to eighteen, they have fled war zones, watched family members killed or persecuted, or who have been subject to persecution and harm themselves. Many are alone, they are frightened, they are traumatised. They are incarcerated by Australia. We will endeavour to provide you with the most up to date statistics as possible on how many children are suffering in detention at any one time.