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Commission Website: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

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Submission to the National

Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from

Amnesty

International School's Network, Queensland


Procedure for Refugee Processing

Recommendations

proposed by the students from Amnesty International’s School’s

Network (Queensland)

Initial

Health Procedure for Undocumented Asylum-Seekers

Procedure

to Process the Applications of Asylum-Seekers

Procedure

for Treatment of Refugees

Special

Privileges for Children Who are Refugees/Asylum-Seekers

Recommendations

proposed by the students from Amnesty International’s School’s

Network (Queensland)

Contained in this document are recommendations from students of Amnesty

International’s School’s Network who believe that the current

system of undocumented asylum-seeker processing is inadequate. In this

proposed procedure, both detention centres and the Temporary Protection

Visa are abolished and are replaced by a system that is better (economically,

socially, and psychologically) for both refugees and the Australian public.

In it, special provisions are made to further protect children and minimise

the stress involved in settling in Australia for them. These provisions

give children three necessities that they are denied under the current

system:

1. A proper education - the refugees’ language problems are recognised

and they are granted greater access to tertiary education

2. An assured future - the refugees’ have all the opportunities

of other Australians and know their future in all cases beyond three-year

blocks

3. Simpler Settlement in Australia - the social issues that, under the

current system, confront child refugees are addressed to simplify their

settlement and acceptance into our society.

This document does not reflect Amnesty International’s

opinion, rather it reflects the opinions of students who are members of

Amnesty International, understand the issues that confront all youth -

including refugees, and desire a fair and just treatment for refugee children.

The current system of detention centres and temporary protection, together

with the limitation of the rights of refugees is inadequate and must be

changed.

This model was produced by Rory [students from Amnesty

International’s School’s Network (Queensland)].

Initial

Health Procedure for Undocumented Asylum-Seekers

  • On arrival, it

    may be necessary to check the health of undocumented asylum-seekers

    to ensure the general public’s protection from any potential contagion

  • During this period,

    the asylum-seekers would be kept in Secure Community Housing. There,

    medical staff will check that they do not carry sicknesses that may

    exist in their countries of origin that pose a threat to the Australian

    public. That is, this health procedure is fundamentally no different

    to the quarantine employed whenever foreign vessels or people arrive

    here and potentially carry disease.

  • In the Secure

    Community Housing, asylum-seekers will have access to Torture and Trauma

    Counselling, medical assistance, basic language services (primary English

    classes and translators), and workshops on Australian culture (that

    is, introductions into the Australian society: our core values, legal

    rights, social obligations, etc.) that would best facilitate and simplify

    their settling here.

  • This health procedure

    may last for a maximum of six weeks. This period is extendable only

    by judicial review, and is extendable only when it is established that

    an extended period is necessitated by the circumstances. Asylum-seekers

    may be released at any point prior to this six week maximum as soon

    as the Minister (or his representatives) are confident that the asylum-seeker

    does not pose a threat to the general public.

  • The Secure Community

    Housing system will fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Minister

    for Immigration. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission,

    however, may have a representative to over-see the operations in the

    houses due to the nature of the system.

Procedure

to Process the Applications of Asylum-Seekers

  • Upon clearance

    from the health procedure, asylum-seekers will be released into the

    community with a form of Bridging Visa. This visa means that the asylum-seeker

    is welcome in Australia at least until his/her application has been

    assessed. This visa gives to its holder certain privileges

    • Work Rights

      The holder is free to seek employment and work in Australia and has

      access to employment services.

    • Language Services

      The holder has access to government-sponsored English classes and

      has access to translators

    • Income Support

      The government will pay to the visa holder a sum that is adequate

      to meet the holder’s living expenses

    • Medical Assistance

      The holder has access to public and private health care, and to other

      medical services such as Medicare.

    • Residency and

      Settlement Services

      The holder has access to the full range of services designed to provide

      accommodation, etc.

    • Education

      The holder has the same rights as an Australian citizen to education

      including access to HECs and other assistance

    • Torture and

      Trauma Counselling

      No asylum seeker will be denied the aid he/she needs with regards

      to psychological harm.

  • The asylum-seekers

    will be housed in government funded Community Housing. There will be

    no requirement for an asylum-seeker to remain there if he/she wishes

    to find other accommodation.

  • At regular intervals,

    the asylum-seekers will have to check-in with a supervising officer

    (similar to a system of parole). This officer’s role will be to

    ensure that the asylum-seeker has not absconded, and also the officer

    must ensure that the refugee’s rights and privileges are being

    respected, such as those granted by their visa and by law.

  • The bridging

    visa will be valid for a six month period. This period is extendable

    by judicial review if that court is satisfied that an extended period

    is necessary to process the asylum-seeker’s claim.

  • By the end of

    the period of the visa, the asylum-seeker’s application will have

    been assessed and his/her status as a refugee will have been formally

    established.

Procedure

for Treatment of Refugees

  • ALL asylum-seeker’s

    whose status as a refugee is recognised will receive a Permanent Protection

    Visa. This visa will qualify them for full rights as an Australian citizen,

    in addition to the special privileges granted under the Bridging Visa

    (these privileges, that is, will exist under the Permanent Protection

    Visa also).

  • The Temporary

    Protection Visa will be abolished. Every refugee will receive a Permanent

    Protection Visa. Creating a class system of visas based solely on method

    of arrival is discriminatory, and insulting to refugees and those who

    wish to help them

Special

Privileges for Children Who are Refugees/Asylum-Seekers

  • Every child who

    is a refugee/ asylum-seeker requires special help in order to preserve

    and enhance their ability to make friends and develop emotionally, psychologically

    and physically. The following provisions apply specifically to children

    for these reasons. They will apply to both those children who are holders

    of the Bridging Visa and the Permanent Protection Visa.

    • Special English

      Classes

      While language skills are important for everyone, they are especially

      important for young people. If a child takes too long developing

      their language skills, then their social skills, too, will be underdeveloped.

      Furthermore, their education will be less productive leading to

      a detrimental effect on their future. Clearly, it is important for

      a child in Australia to be able to understand well English. Special

      English Classes will be an intensive language education program,

      covering both formal and informal/slang language, both of which

      are necessary socially and economically.

    • Homework

      Help

      Education is necessary for a child to find his/her place in society

      and to lead a life that is productive for both him/herself and the

      nation as a whole. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons such

      as stress, the language barrier and psychological problems, some

      refugee children may find it difficult to succeed at school. This

      program will operate both as private tuition and extracurricular

      classes (involving several students) depending on the need, and

      will focus on improving the child’s performance at school.

      Taught will be both school subjects and homework/study management

      methods.

    • Workshops

      on Australian Society

      Making friends and socialising is an important part of the normal

      development of any child. Some refugee children may feel alienated

      by Australian society or not understand the national ethos. Consequently,

      some refugee children may have difficulty socialising outside of

      their own ethnic groups. To prevent this, workshops will be held

      to help them understand Australian culture and to help Australians

      understand theirs. They will be encouraged to maintain their own

      culture while being taught social norms that may be peculiar to

      Australia. These include slang language, customs, currency, sports,

      etc. These workshops are not so much lessons on Australian culture

      as they are fun social occasions where useful aspects of the society

      will be examined.

Last

Updated 14 July 2003.