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Submission to the National

Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from

the National Association of

Community Based Children's Services (NACBCS)

The National Association

of Community Based Children's Services (NACBCS) is extremely concerned

at the briefings we have received from our colleagues about the detention

of children who are seeking asylum in Australia.

NACBCS represents

not-for-profit children's services throughout Australia; our purpose is

to advocate and assist the development of community based children's services

providing good quality care, where community is defined as the environment

in which people live and/or work.

This submission addresses

the following key questions facing the Inquiry:

  • Detention and

    alternatives to detention

  • What is the impact

    of detention on the well-being of children?

  • What alternatives

    to detention should be developed or implemented?

The detention of

children seeking asylum in Australia clearly breaches our obligations

as signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the


  • Article 37 (b)

    requires that children be kept in detention for the minimum time possible

    - we are informed that some children are being kept in detention for

    extended periods.

  • Article 18.2 requires

    that parents are assisted in their role of child rearing - provision

    of good quality child care is a reasonable expectation of support.We

    understand that the children in detention have no access to skilled

    child care staff and so lack appropriate programming for their care

    and education.

  • Article 3.1 asserts

    that the best interests of the child are paramount - we are concerned

    at reports of a lack of adequate and appropriate toys and equipment,

    especially to meet the needs of infants.

    Age appropriate

    toys and equipment are vital to the stimulation required for health

    development in the critical early years when the foundations are laid

    for brain development.

We urge the Australian

Government to meet its international obligations to these highly vulnerable


Relevant excerpts

from UN Convention on Rights of the Child

Article 3

1. In all actions

concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social

welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative

bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Article 18

2. For the purpose

of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention,

States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal

guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities

and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services

for the care of children.

Article 37

States Parties

shall ensure that:

(b) No child shall

be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest,

detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the

law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest

appropriate period of time;


Updated 22 October 2002.