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Detention still no good for children

Commission Commission – General

12 April 2002

Detention still
no good for children

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission welcomes yesterday's
statement from Immigration Minister Mr Philip Ruddock about Federal Government
plans to scale down Woomera as an immigration reception and processing

Human Rights Commissioner
Dr Sev Ozdowski said it was a step in the right direction and called on
the Government to continue to explore ways of removing children and their
families from detention.

"A detention
centre is no home for a child," said Dr Ozdowski. "Action needs
to be taken to ensure the removal of children from detention is of the
highest priority."

The Commission raised
serious concerns about conditions for children at Woomera with the Government
and in a 6 February 2002 media statement following a fact-finding mission
to the centre in January.

The Commission raised
concerns about incidents of self-harm, saying they indicated children
were responding to the "atmosphere of despair" in which they
lived; and raised concerns about other indications of psychological trauma
and the adequacy of schooling provided. The Commission said there were
breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and called for the
Government to indicate how these breaches would be "immediately rectified".

The Commission's
full report on Woomera has been sent to the Department of Immigration
and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs for a formal response to the
concerns raised. The report will be sent to the Federal Attorney-General
Mr Daryl Williams for tabling in federal parliament.

Dr Ozdowski said
that the Children in Immigration Detention Inquiry - announced on 28 November
2001 - will continue to examine the facilities available for child asylum-seekers
at Woomera and elsewhere, to ensure Australia is meeting its obligations
under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC).

Further information
about the Inquiry is available at

Media contact: Janine
MacDonald (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347

updated 2 December 2001.