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Submission to the National
Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from
the NSW Department of Education
Adequacy of current educational provision
Educational programs in NSW government schools
Temporary Protection Visa Holders enrolled in government schools.
Cost of educating child asylum seekers and students on temporary protection
Support for children and families who have been released from detention
of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (should) negotiate agreements
with State Governments to enable children in detention centres
to gain access to nearby schools.'
A report on visits
to immigration detention centres.
Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. (June
This submission supports
the proposition that for children in detention their education would be
best served by allowing such children to enrol in government schools outside
the detention centres.
To date no agreement
or memorandum of understanding exists between the Commonwealth and the
New South Wales Government in regard to the education of children held
in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (IDC).
in Villawood IDC do not access local schools and must remain in Villawood
for their education. The major educational provider in New South Wales,
the Department of Education and Training, has no direct or indirect input
into educational programs for children in detention at Villawood. The
nature of the educational provision in Villawood IDC is determined by
the contractor, Australasian Correctional Services (ACS), in accordance
with the Commonwealth's Immigration Detention Standards (IDS).
In 2001, in one particular
instance, the New South Wales Department of Education and Training worked
with the Commonwealth Government to enable a child in Villawood to attend
a government school. In this case the child was released from Villawood
IDC into the custody of another family. Then, in order to enrol the child
who was still considered to be an unlawful non-citizen, the chosen public
school was approved as a place of detention under the Migration Act
1958. The school principal accepted DIMIA's request to hold the child
in immigration detention while he attended school.
children in Villawood IDC are not separated from parents or family and
so remain in detention unable to access local schools.
Children and unaccompanied
minors holding temporary protection visas who have been released into
the community are currently able to enrol in NSW government schools. Schools
recognise that these students often have experienced torture and or trauma,
have interrupted education and many are at risk of not completing their
schooling and so the schools provide appropriate counselling and welfare
programs. In addition such children are able to access intensive English
as a second language and community language tuition where appropriate.
On an international
comparison Australia's policies on mandatory detention of 'unlawful non-citizens'
appear to be unique. The current system of operation in almost all refugee-receiving
countries is generally the release of asylum seekers into the community.
The number of asylum seekers in Australia is small in relation to many
of these countries. Countries such as Great Britain, Sweden, the United
States of America and Canada do not impose long-term mandatory detention
and do allow asylum seekers' children to enrol in school.
of current educational provision
be directed to the 'preparation of the child for responsible
life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance,
equality of sexes and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national
and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.'
Convention on the
Rights of the Child, Article 29 (1), 1989.
Under the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (the Convention),
all children have a fundamental right to be educated. In particular it
requires that primary education be compulsory and that different forms
of secondary education, including general and vocational education, be
available and accessible to every child.
The right of the
child to be educated in New South Wales is reflected in the Education
Act (1990) with its requirement for compulsory education for all children
aged between 6 and 15 years.
for children of any age in Villawood IDC is not compulsory. The Immigration
Detention Standards do not require the provider to meet state or territory
curriculum requirements. Nor do the standards require the provider to
use qualified or registered teachers.
indicates that educational programs in Villawood do not provide the same
level of education available to children in local schools. This contradicts
the Convention principle that there must be no discrimination in access
to education for any child, regardless of status. A child in detention
has the right to access and participate in education 'to the maximum extent
of available resources' (the Convention, Article 4).
Advice from the Department
of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) indicates
that at 23 April 2002, 26 children of school age and seven pre-school
age children were detained at Villawood. This number is subject to fluctuation.
Villawood IDC educational
programs for children include pre-primary education and general education.
Adult education programs include general education, life skills, English
classes, basic computing and vocational training. It is the Department's
understanding that at Villawood both children and adults participate in
the same classroom. Three qualified teachers: one adult educator, one
primary school teacher and one pre-school teacher are available to support
the education needs of people detained at Villawood IDC. English classes
consist of 4 x 1 hour sessions per day for 4 days per week.
On the available
evidence, the educational programs provided by the contractor are inadequate
and inappropriate in providing for children of different ages and abilities
and cannot meet the Convention requirements.
It could be deemed
discriminatory to educate children in the isolated environment of a detention
centre. Children need to learn more than English to advance their education
and they learn much more from interaction with peers in school. In school,
children would be able to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.
The current educational
provision at Villawood is limited in terms of breadth of curriculum and
depth of teaching programs. The quality of provision is severely impacted
on by teacher quality and numbers of students participating in educational
activities. The small numbers of both students and teachers means that
to group students of similar age and educational needs would not be possible.
Essential to achievement
of educational success for students is the correct placement of students
in programs. Initial educational assessment of a child is essential but
can be difficult, particularly for children with little or disrupted education
and the resulting difficulties of literacy in a student's first language.
Assessors need to have appropriate experience in assessing English language
competence as well as experience in identifying the impact of previous
torture and trauma and the settlement process on psychological development
and educational progress. The use of bilingual support to conduct such
educational assessments is necessary.
Children at Villawood
IDC, possibly already traumatised by previous experiences, need the stability
and normality of school. There they can achieve some successes such as
progress in school work and English, be encouraged to have a positive
attitude to their own culture and language, make friends or be supported
by welfare programs and counsellors experienced in helping refugee students.
If children in detention
were allowed to enrol in schools they would be able to resume their interrupted
education and continue to learn English in an environment with good English
speaking models to support their English language learning. This is extremely
important in light of information from DIMIA which indicates that the
majority of people in detention centres who have applied for protection
as refugees are eventually released into the community on three year temporary
protection visas. When the children then later enrol in school, they have
experienced considerable disruption to their learning, sometimes for several
Educational programs in NSW government schools
*not her real name
Rany is a Year
12 student in a Sydney high school who enjoys both school and social
activities. A keen member of the Student Representative Council at school,
she always wants to be involved and achieve as well as she can. She
enjoys good health and life. But it has not always been so.
A frail child,
Rany had been born in a Thai refugee camp where her Cambodian parents
waited for resettlement in another country. After waiting seven years
in the camp, they paid smugglers to take them to Australia. They could
only afford for two to go. Rany's father stayed behind.
Mother and daughter
arrived in Australia after a long boat journey and were taken to the
detention centre at Port Hedland. Other Cambodians arrived later and
one brought the news that Rany's father had died of hepatitis.
After 12 months
of detention, Rany and her mother were released and eventually arrived
in Sydney. By this stage Rany was in such poor health she spent periods
of time in hospital. A philanthropic organisation paid for life-saving
medical treatment for her.
At the same
time, Rany, then aged 8, enrolled in a government primary school in
Western Sydney. She had very little English but she wanted to learn.
She had been bored with so little to do in the detention camp.
In primary school,
Rany was immediately placed in a special new arrivals class for intensive
English tuition. A support teacher, learning difficulties, also helped
her to catch up lost school years. Rany was able to study Khmer as a
community language and a bilingual aide supported her language and learning.
The school counsellor referred Rany to appropriate medical and community
between primary school and high school to support the transition, Rany
completed primary school and moved on to a government high school. With
continuing English as second language support, she worked hard, sometimes
struggling but always trying; she made friends, her optimism growing.
Intensive counselling enabled strong communication between Rany and
her mother and the school. She was encouraged to join the Student Representative
Council undertaking school and district programs in leadership skills.
Rany moved through her high school years with increasing confidence.
She is in her
final year at school, studying for the Higher School Certificate - a
young adult and active participant in Australian society.
In accordance with
the principles of the Convention, children in New South Wales have the
right to access and participate in education 'to the maximum extent of
available resources'. Unfortunately, in May 2002, this right is not available
for children from Villawood IDC.
Access to available
educational resources for children in detention should mean the right
to enrol in their local primary school, high school or Intensive English
Centre or college of TAFE, where appropriate. Appendix
1 provides details of government schools in the Villawood area where
children in detention could enrol.
cater to the needs of children of a wide range of ages and cultural and
linguistic backgrounds. In 2001 NSW government schools enrolled 182,884
(25%) students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Some 6,614 newly arrived students from overseas were also enrolled during
the year. In total approximately 83,336 students received English as a
second language tuition and some 46,000 students participated in community
In New South Wales,
multicultural policy is enshrined in The Community Relations Commission
and Principles of Multiculturalism Act (2000). This act recognises
and values the different linguistic, religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds
of the people of New South Wales.
The New South Wales
school curriculum is inclusive of students from language backgrounds other
than English and provides programs which value the cultural and linguistic
backgrounds of students and address their specific learning needs. Such
programs enhance personal and cultural identity and are relevant to the
particular needs and situation of children in immigration detention.
The New South Wales
Department of Education and Training operates 78 pre-schools across the
state. Three pre-schools are located in nearby schools. Children who attend
pre-school can learn social and early educational skills through play
and structured activities supervised by trained pre-school teachers.
Students in primary
schools learn through six key learning areas: English, Mathematics, Science,
Human Society and its Environment, Science and Technology, Personal Development,
Health and Physical Education and Creative Arts.
In high schools the
school curriculum is taught through eight key learning areas: English,
Mathematics, Science, Technology and Applied Studies, Human Society and
its Environment, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education,
Creative Arts and Languages other than English.
The development of
students' literacy and numeracy skills and understanding through a broad
range of subjects is a fundamental focus of the curriculum and this is
supported by the provision of English as a Second Language tuition for
students whose first language is not English. Continued development of
these skills is paramount for children in detention whose education has
Maintenance of a
child's first language is encouraged. Community language courses are valued
and can be studied in schools, in TAFE and through the Saturday School
of Community Languages.
The civics and citizenship
content involves knowledge and understanding of how our Australian society
operates. Multicultural content in subjects assists the development of
the student's knowledge, understanding and skills applicable to the multicultural
and multilingual nature of Australia. Children who have been able to enrol
in schools prior to release into the community would have a better chance
of coping with resettlement if they already possess knowledge and understanding
of Australian society.
Students also learn
key competencies which are generic competencies essential for effective
participation in schools and for learning for further education, work
and everyday life. In high school, students can choose to study specific
vocational education and training courses.
A number of high
schools in New South Wales place a special emphasis on a particular area
of learning. Parents can choose to enrol their children in a comprehensive
high school, boys or girls high school, technology high school, languages
high school, performing arts high school, sports high school, creative
arts high school or an agricultural high school.
All primary and secondary
schools report student achievement and progress to parents or caregivers
at least twice a year. As well as school based reporting statewide testing
of students also takes place.
Basic Skills Tests
(BST) are conducted in primary school to test aspects of literacy and
numeracy. Results are reported to parents. In years 7 and 8 students'
achievements in literacy and numeracy are tested through the English
Language and Literacy Assessment (ELLA) and the Secondary Numeracy
Assessment (SNAP) programs.
The School Certificate
is awarded to students who successfully complete examinations at the end
of Year 10. Students who successfully complete Year 12 and sit for the
examinations at the end of the course are awarded the Higher School Certificate.
This qualification is recognised locally, nationally and internationally
and examination results provide the main gateway for university entrance.
English as a Second
English as a Second
Language (ESL) tuition is provided in primary schools, high schools and
Intensive English Centres (IECs) to support the English language development
of students whose first language is not English. There are 876 (full time
equivalent) ESL teacher positions across primary schools and high schools
providing support for approximately 84,000 ESL students.
High school age students
generally enrol in an IEC for an average of three terms. Upon completion
of their intensive English program students transfer to a high school.
IECs prepare students for studying in high school by providing English
language, orientation, settlement and welfare programs in a high school
In order to make
a successful transition, students participate in a Transition to High
School program. This program assists students to make informed decisions
about future subject and school selection. Each student leaves the IEC
with a record of their educational achievement. This is used by the receiving
school to place the student in an appropriate educational program.
In line with Article
23(3) of the Convention, which articulates the need for effective access
to the fullest possible social integration and individual development
in education, government schools in NSW follow a policy of integration
in mainstream classes for students with a disability. Where appropriate
students may also attend special schools.
A wide range of
special education support services is provided to meet the educational
needs of students with disabilities and learning difficulties. Teachers
trained in special education and learning difficulties are available to
meet the specific needs of students.
government schools have the opportunity to participate in special religious
education. This involves representatives of approved religious groups
attending schools during specified times to provide instruction to students
of that group.
Schools also allow
for students' religious observance, for example, by designating a room
within school as a prayer room.
All government schools
have access to school counsellors. Many are registered psychologists.
School counsellors provide assistance to students experiencing emotional,
psychological, social and learning problems. Appropriate counselling services
are able to support at risk students who have previously experienced torture
and trauma. Specialist migrant counsellors are based in Intensive English
Centres (IECs) and support local counsellors in meeting the particular
needs of child asylum seekers. In supporting the needs of students counsellors
liaise with parents or caregivers, where appropriate.
have a responsibility to protect young people in their care from sexual,
physical and emotional abuse and neglect, and from improper conduct of
a sexual nature. The Department of Education and Training has a number
of procedures and training programs in place to ensure the safety of all
children at school. In the classroom child protection education is taught
as part of the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education key
Drug education is
an integral part of the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
key learning area. Drug education aims to provide students with the relevant
information and skills necessary to make informed lifestyle choices relating
to drug use.
To meet the needs
of refugee students and students who have experienced trauma, loss and
fear prior to their arrival in Australia, the Department of Education
and Training provides a range of services. These services include courses
for teachers where teacher awareness about the impact torture and trauma
may have on student learning and behaviour is discussed and appropriate
strategies for teaching these students are provided. The Department, in
conjunction with the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture
and Trauma Survivors, also trains facilitators to conduct Families in
Cultural Transition courses for families.
The Department also
closely cooperates with other government and non-government agencies such
as the Department of Community Services, NSW Refugee Health Service, Service
for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS),
ANGLICARE and the Migrant Resource Centre Association Inc in order to
provide support to schools to meet the needs of refugee students and their
families within the school community.
are also available free of charge to assist in the communication between
school, parents and the community. Reporting of student progress is assisted
through the use of interpreters.
The Department also
provides translations of key educational documents in relevant languages
other than English.
There are 40 district
offices throughout the state. A district superintendent is based at each
office. District office staff form a multidisciplinary team that provides
a range of quality school focused services to meet the needs of students
and teachers in the area.
Villawood IDC is
located in the Fairfield district. Multicultural education programs and
services in the Fairfield district are supported by consultants and Community
Information Officers in the local district office. Two Multicultural /
ESL consultants provide professional support to schools in implementing
ESL, anti-racism and multicultural education programs. Two Community Information
Officers (CIOs) (NESB) support schools in communicating and strengthening
links with their parents and community members from language backgrounds
other than English. Such services would be available to parents of children
from detention centres.
post compulsory education
The Convention defines
a child as a person under the age of 18 years of age and although it is
not compulsory for students in New South Wales to attend school after
the age of 15, most students choose to do so. Post-compulsory aged students
are encouraged to continue their education in the senior years through
a range of educational and vocational options which prepare them for the
award of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) at the end of Year 12 and
the workplace and further study.
In Villawood IDC,
young people between 15 and 17 years of age only have the choice of attending
the general education classes for younger children or adults. There are
no specific programs for those between childhood and adulthood. Adolescents
are a particularly vulnerable group in the sense that they are no longer
children and not yet adults.
These young people
in detention are particularly at risk because they suffer the stresses
and insecurity of being both adolescents and asylum seekers and the fact
of detention means that their chance of making an effective transition
to new opportunities has been gravely disrupted. Information from DIMIA
has indicated that most people in detention centres are released into
the community on three year temporary protection visas. Without continuous
education, training and community support they may lack the capacity to
participate in the social and economic life of their community.
As the Report from
the Prime Minister's Youth Pathways Action Plan Taskforce of 2001 notes,
'Failure to (participate in the community) condemns some young people
to life on the margins. It diminishes their quality of life and deprives
the community of their contribution. (p.8)' The resulting social and economic
costs for the community can be high.
This report recognises
the need for stronger links between young people's experiences in school
and in the wider world, including the world of work. The report thus echoes
the emphasis in Article 28 of the Convention on the need for different
forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education.
Access to schools
for young people in Villawood will provide such opportunities. Students
in Year 10 in NSW schools can undertake vocational School to Work Programs
and Career and Work Education. A major focus of the Higher School Certificate
(HSC) program in Years 11 and 12 is the opportunity for all students to
study vocational education and training (VET) industry curriculum framework
courses which have been developed to provide students with the skills
required by industry and with nationally recognised qualifications. The
industry curriculum framework courses are based on competency standards
defined by industry.
courses for post compulsory aged students are also available across many
subjects including English, Mathematics, Science and Computer Studies.
HSC courses include an English course specifically designed for students
whose first language is not English, and who have recently arrived in
Australia. Additional literacy support is provided for students with low
levels of literacy through the Fundamentals of English course.
Protection Visa Holders enrolled in government schools.
In New South Wales
child temporary protection visa (TPV) holders are able to enrol in government
schools. Between October 1999 and May 2002 a total of 398 children holding
temporary protection visas were enrolled in NSW government schools. 171
students were enrolled in primary schools, 21 in secondary schools and
206 attended Intensive English Centres.
TPVs are able to access all programs and services in the same way as Australian
citizens and permanent residents.
All TPVs who have
enrolled in government schools have required English as a Second language
support. The New South Wales government has met this cost as the Commonwealth
has refused to provide funding to the state to meet the costs of providing
English as a Second Language support to these students.
The Department has
also ensured TPV holder students and their families are able to draw on
the services and expertise of the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation
of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). In particular, TPV students
and their parents have been encouraged to participate in Families in
Cultural Transition (FICT) courses.
of educating child asylum seekers and students on temporary protection
Under the Immigration
Detention Standards the contractor is required to provide social and education
programs appropriate to the child's age and abilities. Education is not
compulsory. No educational standards are stipulated in either the Immigration
Detention Standards or the contractual arrangements with Australasian
Correctional Services (ACS).
The current cost
of educating a child in detention is factored into contractual arrangements
with Australasian Correctional Services (ACS). No data is available on
the actual funds provided to ACS or actual costs incurred.
While Western Australia
is the only state to enrol children in detention in local schools all
states and territories allow children holding temporary protection visas
to enrol and access the full range of curriculum and educational programs,
including English as a Second Language tuition.
No state has entered
into any agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth
Government concerning the type of educational provision that children
in detention who enrol in a local government school may be able to access.
In the one case where a child in detention attended a New South Wales
government school the Department of Education and Training met all costs
associated with the education of the student. This included providing
the school with additional ESL and counselling support.
of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training has recently
written to the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural
and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) indicating his belief that NSW government
schools would provide the best education for children in detention. DIMIA
officers have indicated a willingness to commence discussions on this
Should the Commonwealth
agree to the enrolment of children in detention in local schools, such
arrangements should be detailed in a memorandum of understanding which
clearly articulates the educational standards to be met, roles and responsibilities
of relevant parties and costs to be borne.
In relation to child
temporary protection visa holders the Commonwealth should clearly accept
its responsibility to provide states with the English as a Second Language
New Arrivals per capita grant of $3,997 to meet the intensive English
needs of these students. It should be noted that this figure does not
reflect the actual cost of service delivery.
New South Wales in
cooperation with other states and territories is working through the Ministerial
Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs to review
the current funding formula for the English as a Second Language New
Arrivals programme to ensure the per capita amount provided actually
reflects the cost of provision.
for children and families who have been released from detention
Children and their
families who have been in detention are often in fear of authority and
schools and teachers have to work hard to establish a positive relationship
and regain their trust.
DIMIA provides very
little information concerning the previous history of children and their
families when they are released from detention. Schools need to establish
the educational background of children in order to determine appropriate
programs for them.
School staff work
hard to ensure that the physical and mental health as well as safety of
children released from detention is addressed immediately on enrolment
in school. Schools establish links with doctors, dentists, the NSW Refugee
Health Service and the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of
Torture and Trauma Survivors and the Transcultural Mental Health Service
in order to ensure that students' physical and psychological well being
is being addressed. In many cases, families have been severely traumatised
by their experiences, so children may not be receiving effective parenting.
Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) courses are designed to address
The New South Wales
Department of Education and Training strongly recommends:
1. That children
in detention be allowed to enrol in government schools.
2. That the Commonwealth
Government provide funding support to state and territory education
systems for the English as a Second Language education of those students.
3. That the Commonwealth
Government provide additional support to children and their families
released into the community to assist their adjustment to life in Australia,
and that this should include parenting support, health and counselling
schools in the local Villawood area
Hill North PS
HS (part selective)
Hill IEC (located across the road from Villawood IDC)
schools with pre-schools
Roger B Wilkins
The Cabinet Office
New South Wales
GPO Box 5341
SYDNEY NSW 2001 DGL 02/704
Dear Mr Wilkins
I refer to your letter
of 5 March 2002 concerning the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration
Detention. Enclosed please find the New South Wales Department of
Education and Training submission to the inquiry.
The submission addresses
the inquiry area of education. It proposes that children and young people
detained in immigration detention centres would benefit from attending
local public schools. I would appreciate receiving a copy of the New South
Wales submission to the Inquiry once available.
this matter should be directed to Ms Hanya Stefaniuk, Manager, Multicultural
Programs on 9244 5412.
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF TAFE NSW
DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Updated 22 October 2002.