OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Disadvantaged children and families moved from detention to community homes: action plan by government and Catholic organizations

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - There are more than 700 children in immigration detention in Australia. Catholic and other human rights organizations have welcomed the government's plan to move hundreds of asylum-seeker children and families from detention centers into the community. The government will open two new onshore detention centres, and children and vulnerable families will be moved into community accommodation run by churches and charities by June 2011. However, all unauthorized arrivals will continue to be obligatorily detained when they first arrive while identity and security checks are carried out. According to a declaration from the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service, Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman, “We cannot keep people in detention for indefinite periods of time, especially those who are most vulnerable, unaccompanied minors and families with children. This is a very good initiative, a good response to what we and other asylum-seeker and refugee agencies have been advocating for a while now.”
Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman continues: “This change will provide opportunities for unaccompanied minors to attend school, which in some cases they aren't currently doing, and will offer them skills, technical or otherwise, that they will later be able to use in the community if they granted protection in Australia, or back in their countries of origin if they have to return home.” The Provincial of the Australian Jesuits, Fr. Steve Curtin SJ, said any effort to remove children and vulnerable families from detention was long overdue. “There's substantial evidence that prolonged detention is harmful to the health of people,” the Jesuit said. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 19/10/2010)