Asylum-Seeker Children Need Permanent Protection Not Just Protection When Governments Feel Like It

28th October 2010

It’s time to provide permanent legal protection to ensure children and unaccompanied minors are not held in immigration detention facilities, according to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Immigration, says the Greens’ bill, which has been introduced today into the Senate, builds on the recent announcement by the Federal Government on the release of children from immigration detention facilities.

“Vulnerable children and minors deserve better than part-time protection, or protection when Governments are feeling a bit of political heat on the issue,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“If the Government and Opposition accept that children do not belong in detention facilities, then that should be made law, so those young people are not forced to rely on occasional goodwill from a sympathetic minister.

“This bill recognises that children and minors are among the most vulnerable of all people who seek our protection. Our own Australian values of a fair go and protection of the vulnerable make this an appropriate and necessary statement to be enshrined in legislation.”

The Greens bill would amend the Migration Act to ensure that the Immigration Minister must make a decision within 12 days to place children or minors in the community, rather than detention.

The bill would make it a matter of course for the minister or the department to make a determination to put children and minors in the community and allow a process to be established for parents and guardians to apply to be housed with children and minors within 30 days.

“We call for tripartisan support to take the politics out of a heated issue, and to ensure that moving children into the community (once appropriate checks are completed) becomes a natural part of the immigration process, as it should be,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“This is the Government’s policy, this is the Opposition’s policy, this bill would simply make them law. Let’s work together to make this happen.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew McGarry – 0427 604 760

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