Federal Government should release all children from detention
19 August 2014
Chee Chee Leung
Social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn says the Federal Government’s decision announced today to release children from immigration detention needs to be expanded to include all babies and children in detention – not just based on when they arrived in Australia.
Jacob Varghese, a Principal at Maurice Blackburn and a lawyer representing a number of asylum seeker families, said the Government’s plan to release children was a good first step, but more needed to be done to ensure the health and safety of all asylum seeker children in Australia.
“We welcome that the Federal Government has now recognised that detention is no place for babies and children,” Mr Varghese said.
“However, it’s disappointing that the announcement explicitly excludes those children who have arrived in Australia after July 19, 2013.
“It also excludes babies born in Australia to asylum seeker families who have arrived after July 19.
“It is well known that a detention centre is no place for babies and children and it’s pleasing the Government now also acknowledges this. But it has overlooked that all children in detention suffer serious trauma, irrespective of when they arrived in Australia.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to help these babies – it does nothing to help baby Ferouz and the other babies we act for or their siblings,” he said.
Maurice Blackburn is calling on the Government to extend its announcement to include asylum seeker babies and children who have arrived after July 19, 2013, including those in detention on Christmas Island and Nauru.
“These children are living in dire circumstances,” Mr Varghese said.
“On Christmas Island and Nauru, there is not the basic ability to provide medical and health services that children need.
“We have heard stories of children with teeth abscesses or teeth cavities that have gone untreated for months. We know of children with grave psychological problems. They are simply not getting good quality care.
“Today’s announcement needs to go much further – no child should be living in detention,” he said.