here to return to the Submission Index
Submission to the National
Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from
the Conference of Leaders
of Religious Institutes
of Religious in Work with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Australia
on Child Development and Education
and Girl Children
practices in detention
Role of the Parent in Detention Centres
How can the
baptized claim to welcome Christ if they close the door to the foreigner
who comes knocking? " If anyone has the world's goods and sees
his brothers or sisters in need, yet closes his heart against them,
how does God's love abide in him?"
(1 Jn 3:17)
Paul II, Message for World Migration Day 2000, no. 5
of the right to asylum proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (Art 14.1) should be recognized everywhere and not obstructed
with deterrent and punitive measures. A person applying for asylum
should not be interned unless it can be demonstrated that he or she
represents a real danger, or there are compelling reasons to think
that he or she will not report to the competent authorities for due
examination of his or her case. More over, such people should be helped
with access to work and to a just and rapid legal procedure.
A Challenge to Solidarity", n 13, pontifical Council Cor Unum
and Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant
people have the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14(1)
situation affecting the interests of a child or a family, the interests
of the child must come before all others"
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3
widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the
family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society"
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention"
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article
shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article
states shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry
or presence on refugees who, coming from a place where their life
or freedom was threatened are in their territory without authorisation "
Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, Article
Australia's commitment to these conventions and to the foundations
of the Common Law, The Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes
promotes the following principles as a necessary beginning to any
debate on an Humanitarian and Refugee program in Australia:
is part of the international community and has undertaken its responsibilities
towards refugees voluntarily and in the spirit of humanitarianism;
- As a wealthy
and stable nation, we share a responsibility for the weakest in
the world community;
is entitled to protect its territorial integrity in ways that are
consistent with its international obligations and undertakings,
and its domestic law and legal principles;
- No refugee
or asylum seeker may be subject to punishment, mistreatment or other
human rights violation to deter others from seeking asylum in Australia;
- Refugees and
Asylum seekers who are intercepted on their way to Australia will
be treated with respect for their dignity and not be subjected to
physical violence or threats of physical violence;
- Under no circumstances
will a refugee or asylum seeker be diverted to a country that is
not party to the 1951 convention or major human rights treaties
and which cannot support their presence with dignity;
- Aid funds
will not be diverted from development projects to underpin the detention
and processing of asylum seekers in other countries
- Non citizens
in Australia will only be detained after an individual assessment
of their public security or safety risk. All detention must be reviewable
by a court and must be for the shortest time possible.
- Any asylum
seeker in detention is entitled to be treated humanely with respect
for his or her human dignity. The standards in detention will be
no less than criminal prisoners are entitled to.
- Asylum seekers
who are accepted as Convention refugees are entitled to family reunion.
- Asylum seekers
accepted as refugees will be granted permanent visas.
of Leaders of Religious Institutes NSW represents over 4000 religious
in NSW. We also work closely with the more than 20,000 other religious
working in many areas, including pastoral, educational and social
work with detained asylum seekers and with refugees and asylum seekers
in various Australian communities.
for a submission to HREOC's National Enquiry into Children in Detention,
CLRI (NSW), in co-operation with the Australian Conference of Leaders
of Religious Institutes, sent a questionnaire to religious all over
Australia, asking for stories and experiences relating to the terms
of reference of the enquiry. With the written responses to the questionnaire
and several telephone interviews, CLRI's report has come from the
combined experience of over 20 people who currently work with or who
have in the recent past worked with asylum seekers in Australia. The
input of several others, who have worked around the world in refugee
camps and settlements, has also been sought by way of best practice
contributions. Unless otherwise noted, all comments relate to experience
in Australia's detention centres.
Included in this
submission are the suggestions and experience of teachers, social
workers and nurses, some with over 30 years experience in their fields,
and many with experience working with refugees or displaced people
both in Australia and in other parts of the world. This submission
includes input from people who work in or have recently worked in
Villawood, Maribyrnong, Woomera, Port Headland, and Curtin Detention
Centres and in settlement programs for released refugees and community
asylum seekers in Sydney and Melbourne. Several participants invited
released refugees and their children into their homes to assist with
the first months of settlement in Australia.
It is indicative
of the climate surrounding Australian Immigration Detention Centres
that almost none of the questionnaire respondents were willing to
have their names or positions released or published with this submission.
Most also requested that their stories be published without the addition
of which centre the asylum seekers were detained in. It was explained
to researchers that not only did asylum seekers justly fear the impact
on their cases from publicity, but Centre workers, including religious
volunteers, also risked loosing their positions or access to the Centres
should it become known that they had participated in this enquiry.
of Detention on Children
who worked with children in Hong Kong and Malaysia's refugee detention
emotions were frozen at the ages they were when they arrived. I knew
people who were 20 but who arrived at 14 - and the dream that they
had at 19 was the same as the one they had when they arrived. They
had no concept of living a life now, only of the future. Their emotions
were more like 14 year old kids."
pointed out that children in Australia's detention centres have experienced
some level of trauma or upheaval even before arriving in Australia,
which necessarily leaves them fewer resources for dealing with the
Detention Centre environment they meet upon arrival. The experience
of conflict, flight, separation from other family and friends, life
in refugee camps and the final ocean crossing to Australia can only
add to the stress of the Detention Centres themselves.
my previous experience, in Hong Kong and Malaysia: The children
in Detention would not do well in school. I would talk to them and
they would say 'I am sad'. I could not count the kids who said to
me 'I will die - there is nothing for me'. Many of them would have
nightmares, and they were afraid about going to sleep. They were
preoccupied by the processing of their claims and many of them just
couldn't function beyond that - they were emotionally blocked totally
pre-occupied by it, and influenced by the depression of the adults.
Waves of depression would go through the camp. In preparation for
return, the children would at first refuse to talk about their families
and their homes, but they would not talk about home at first - they
would say that they did not have families."
One teacher explained
her experience of using videos to instruct new arrivals to an Australian
a video showed heavy seas, the children lapsed into complete stillness
because quite a few had been literally plucked from their sinking
Even the daily
routine, without the drama of protests getting out of hand, causes
difficulties for some children:
Child is different - but in Detention they are all conforming to
the same routine, through locked and un-locked gates, and surrounded
by razor-wire 24 hours a day. A lot depends on the parent/child
bond, and if the child has both parents with them, which is quite
often not the case. The detainees are not allowed to lock their
rooms, so one small boy (6 yrs) was frequently found in people's
accommodation areas .The child was resented by some older detainees,
and labeled a thief He was an intelligent child, in unfortunate
At another Centre:
it is difficult to say that behaviors such as refusing to eat, night
terrors, regression to bed wetting, temper tantrums, and in the
older children, insecurity, are due solely to detention, facets
of detention cannot be helpful. Factors such as communal meal areas
where meals are served at definite times; no regard for cultural
dietary needs; no regard for children's likes and dislikes; no possibility
for mothers to prepare food for their children are detrimental for
children. Other factors such as nighttime security checks, crowded
living arrangements and lack of trauma intervention do not help
of the turmoil within the centre, the children 'walk" sometimes
all night (This is especially true for the children who are without
families). They wander whenever there is no particular event or duty
for them to perform. There is little privacy for them, even within
their family group."
Entry into the
Community and the resumption of "normal life"
The trauma of
the Centre will not remain there once children and their families
leave. Respondents who work with refugees once they have been released
to the community explain:
pattern of life is turned up side down. They try to sleep during
the day time and stay awake at night. This seems to help them stay
sane. Once they are out of the Centre it so hard to get back to
a normal way of living"
"Young children who are detained seem quickly to settle into
a normal childhood pattern when released, even as early as after
a couple of weeks. I wonder about long term effects. Children from
about 7 - 8 upwards can be very traumatized; to follow these children
through would be a worthwhile study."
shared her home with a family recently released:
little boy was shy, afraid and withdrawn when he came to live with
us. He couldn't speak English - all he wanted to do was watch TV
- All night! I remember asking him to come for a walk around the
block. The freedom frightened him. He didn't want to move outside
our house. He has buried his nightmares deep inside himself and
I wonder when they will surface."
of the Australian community fanned by government and media also affect
the ability of former detainees to feel at home in Australia:
know 6 high school children who deny to their peers the knowledge
that they have been through detention. They say they migrated to
Australia. When the "Tampa" affair was on, one child told
me they had a discussion at school about the incident, but she did
not join in the discussion, saying she 'would not want her friends
to know she was a refugee'; she wanted to bury that experience and
not have to discuss it with the others."
One former Detention
Centre teacher found that the management of the Centre and the experience
of the children once they were there affected her students:
the parents of many were also in the Centre, the authorities deemed
it necessary for me to have a [Security] Officer accompanying me
when crossing public areas. The [children's] main feeling was FEAR,
with frustration second. Hunger strikes and jumping off the second
story were tried [in front of the children]. With a guard escorting
us, I used to take the children beach strolling and to the local
swimming pool, [yet] fear and frustration were very evident."
in Detention Centres has not been a priority - in Woomera in recent
months, students have been receiving 4 sessions of education per week,
each of one hour's duration. A teacher in Port Headland in 1996 explained
that her classes
with over 40, but many teenagers soon dropped out and spent the
day idling. Those who stayed responded well to education "
Even for those
allowed out of the Centre to study at the local school, Detention
followed them to this supposedly 'normal' environment. At Curtain:
of them were allowed to attend high school outside detention [but
they] still have a degree of anger to work through; at the time
of life when they should have been seeking personal independence,
they were being escorted to school by a security guard."
I was visiting Maribyrnong, the children I knew there were not allowed
to go to school at that time. When they were allowed to go to school
they were taken in a police vehicle, and collected again in the
afternoon - so not in the normal way. They were thrilled to be going
to school, but they couldn't go on excursions, and they wanted their
parents to see their teachers. They couldn't enroll them in school "
with security and discipline apparently extended so far in one detention
centre that a 13 year old girl who was top of her class at the local
school was prevented from attending school after she participated
in a hunger strike. She has been in detention for over two years and
has been refused refugee status, but Australia has no forced return
policy with her government, so she and her family are effectively
in permanent detention. She is now refused education because she protested
this situation with the only method she had at her disposal - her
From a teacher
of many years in the classroom in Australia, and with experience working
with refugee children in several places in Asia, as well as in an
Australian Immigration Detention Centre:
am at present working in a school where there are a number of children
in attendance who have been in the detention centres in Australia...
These children are very far behind their classmates in all areas
of education. Of course, some of them had disrupted schooling in
their own countries. That is the nature of what it is to be a refugee
and have to escape to a safe country. However, keeping them locked
up for several months without the benefit of normal schooling didn't
help them either. Children need continuity in their learning when
they are young or they quickly forget what they have learned.
was my experience in detention centres overseas that schools were
among the first services that UNHCR sought to provide for children
in refugee camps. The reason for this was a well known fact that
attending school each day was an important factor in establishing
a regular, safe routine for children. Besides being very important
for the education of the children, it served as a normalizing routine
which the children could relate to their former lives - in cases
where they had previously attended school, and for other children
it helped to keep their minds off the sadness and difficulties that
were affecting them in their other part of their lives in detention."
teach in areas with both "community asylum seekers", those
who lived outside the centres while seeking asylum, and with refugees
newly released from detention. They compare the two groups of students:
not detained learn easier; more contented, accept Australia's rules
From a teacher
working to assist refugees in settling into Australian schools:
seems apparent that children from detention centres do have major
problems the children who are refugees are wild and aggressive
kids. I am not certain about what their experiences are because
they have been displaced, their schooling has been interrupted or
they have not had any schooling at all. UNHCR only worries about
them up to Primary Level."
Beyond the classroom,
but from a trained teacher and pastoral worker:
environment of the detention centre is not conductive to normal
development, either socially or educationally. The children see
nothing of everyday life outside the centre. There is no celebration
of the children's culture; rather it is a source of humiliation.
they see no evidence of tolerance or acceptance of multiculturalism."
to affect teenagers in a particular way. One respondent explained
that "Older children are more aware of all the legal implications
of trying to get a visa," and they often have the added burden
of acting as translator for their parents. A community worker explains
an effect of one child's experience:
story that always stays with me is about a girl of about 13. She
and her family had escaped from a country where her father had been
imprisoned and tortured. The mother and four children went into
hiding. This girl was the oldest. They managed to escape the country.
[After release from Detention], the girl was at a school where I
taught and was put in a class which she was old for but this was
because of her lack of English. The girl was quite tall and well
developed. I guess it was expected that she would behave according
to her age This girl had been asked to take on great responsibility.
She had been called to be an adult before her time. I used to take
her to a group after school. As we were packing up one night, I
went to look for her. She was in the doll's corner playing with
a doll like a 5 year old might play. The other children had gone
home. She had the freedom to experience childhood which she had
missed out on. I am sure that if the other girls her age had seen
her they would have teased her. She needed the freedom to experience
what it was like to be a child."
are compounded by the status of teens in Australian society. One respondent
explained that she knew teenagers who complained because they could
not earn a living as they would in their own countries. These young
people found it hard that they should be locked away at a time when
they could be so economically valuable to their families, and, indeed,
starting their own families. In response to the question about teenagers,
one respondent explained that one couple she worked with were classed
by Detention Centre staff as teenagers, because of their age, although
they were the parents of two small children.
worked with unaccompanied minors in camps in Asia, as well as in Australia's
Detention Centres. These experiences relate to her time in Australia:
- All children
in detention are affected negatively and some of the issues are
the same as for unaccompanied minors. However, the adverse affects
on the latter are much worse in my own opinion from working with
them over many years.
children become very depressed and anxious. They tell you every
day that they are sad and this shows in a lack of energy, and disinterest
in what is going on around them.
- They worry
about their own safety and also about that of their parents back
- They show
psychosomatic symptoms of illnesses, are restless and have problems
concentrating. Some refuse to participate in any activities around
- They feel
they lack affection, sometimes becoming very attached to a kind
worker at the centre, or others not relating to anyone at all.
- They feel
they lack help and guidance and have no-one to stand up for them
if they face problems with others
- They suffer
from poor sleep and nightmares and often have intrusive memories
during the day as well. The effect of their living conditions make
it difficult for children to make decisions"
Boy and Girl
conclusive, two responses to the question about boy and girl children
point to a variety of experience, and to the possibility that this
is an issue that needs the input of educational and development experts:
boys are more active and can use up energy chasing each other -
which is some sort of outlet. Girls seem to cling to the parent"
"Boys often become very aggressive and sometimes join gangs
to survive. They can bully other inmates. Girls seem to become more
introverted and quiet.. They are often afraid, especially of anything
new or different."
At Port Headland:
men usually went around in pairs, day and night. The children were
afraid when they appeared. During hunger strikes, food was always
made ready and parents made sure their children ate. Few, very few,
children were seen on the 2nd story during those demonstrations."
does not appear to be any provision to protect children from harm
during their times of unrest. To do so is a matter left to parents
was a riot of sorts and several men damaged equipment such as computers,
televisions and other furniture. This happened at night and was
accompanied by a great deal of noise The mothers [told] me
later, how afraid the children and they had been, as they were locked
up their own area just next to the area where it was all happening
(in the same building). They were powerless to reassure the children
that they were safe as they really were very afraid themselves,
no knowing what was really happening, whether the place would be
burned down, if the violence would escalate and overflow into their
area. Although they tried to reassure the children, they couldn't
hide their own fear."
presence of security personnel are akin to police or army in the
children's minds. The constant roll calls and difficult interaction
between the security officers and the detainees is a source of distress
to the children. They have had a severe traumatic time in their
country of origin, the transit countries or camps, and then to be
held in detention centres causes untold harm to their well being
- physically, mentally, emotionally."
are set up like prisons, where ACM officials act as prison guards,
maintaining not only security but also strict regimes for all parts
of life. Regular "musters", room searches, interrogations
and even body searches, combined with lack of personal freedom, act
to infantalise adult detainees. The long term effect of these practices
on adults has been addressed by mental health professionals, but the
effect on children detained with their parents and on the family structures
of asylum seekers can be seen by many.
(hence children) no longer live together under a family structure,
but are housed and fed among other inmates en masse. The family
has no privacy, or space for itself, is unable to make decisions
about the time or eating, the type of food, when or where it will
eat. There can be no secrets from others as there is nowhere for
people to have a private discussion. The parents are no longer the
decision makers and they cannot protect their children from what
is happening around them "
detention, there is obvious difference between detainees and "outsiders"
- staff and visitors. While the staff have a difficult position
to uphold, they, not the parent have the authority to speak, this
must impact on the child"
become depressed in detention, their children are quick to pick up
the change and to respond themselves.
is made very difficult for the parents as often in detention, the
children "belong to everyone". Perhaps the greatest problem
for the children is not being able to understand the difference
in their parents - parents before they are stressed; they become
short with the children; weeping; depressed; worried; maybe guilty.
Older children often have the burden of being the translator for
- The one subject
and aim is to get a visa, and leave detention. Quite often the parents
are depressed - this impacts on the child. Depends on the length
of stay - and the parents' ability to assist the child."
- Because parents
are depressed by their situation, they often lose interest. As a
consequence, children become out of control"
- Parents sometimes
become so depressed that they are unable to care for their children
either physically or emotionally. Spouses if they are together,
begin to quarrel over even small things, because they feel so helpless.
This situation is very unsettling for children. Children begin to
defer to camp authorities for what they can and can't do and their
parent's authority and confidence is even further eroded."
The effect of
this break down in the parent - child relationship can continue long
after the family is released into the Australian community, even if
the family is detained for a relatively short period.
was a 14 year old girl in Villawood with her mother and father for
8 months. In Villawood, she was well liked, did well in the school,
spent a lot of time with her mother and often acted as translator
for her parents, especially her mother who was often not well. Her
mother reported that A lost weight and could not eat the food, and
that she did not sleep well. She appeared very pale and anxious.
On leaving Villawood, the three settled in a unit and A went to
school. For the first year as the parents tried to "become
parents" again and lay down some limits to A's activities,
A began to have temper tantrums; resented being offered traditional
food; refused to eat; was ill often; was disciplined at school as
she tried to "put down" her peers and began having nightmares.
Both her parents were will during the first year and suffered from
some marital disharmony. All three refused help from STARTTS. Initially
they blamed all their woes on their war in their country from which
they had been forced to escape. Later (about 2 years after detention),
they began to speak about that experience as being "too shocking"
on top of the war and as the cause of many problems."
and Comments from Questionnaire Respondents
asked to make suggestions as to how the Detention Centres could be
made more appropriate for children and their families, and as to how
the reception system itself could be changed. Their responses follow:
believe that the detention centres should be closed. I wold agree
that a period of six weeks may be necessary for documentation but
after that time, the refugees should be permitted to live in the
community while their cases are being processed. In the short time
they are held in detention, families should have access to cooking
facilities and the kinds of food the family normally requires so
that they can prepare suitable food for their children at the times
the children need to be fed. There is no need for razor wire and
large fences. Children should have access to playing areas where
there is shade, trees, grass and simple playing equipment. Families
should be allowed more privacy."
"Family supports are needed as undue pressures come with being
detained. Family counselors are needed. Parents need to be told
of Australia's requirements in parenting, not just relying on customs
and word of mouth"
"I believe that families should live as a unit, in SEPARATE
homes rather than in large accommodation areas, and that they be
given accompanied outings reasonably often - otherwise it is a tough
strain on the nerves and sanity"
"I find it hard to suggest models for anything IN DETENTION.
The bottom line is that no one who has not committed a crime should
be in detention. If we lock up children, it will harm them."
has to be fluid - depending on arrivals. Teachers across all IDCs
should meet regularly with other teachers to work on a curriculum.
Depending on numbers of children - they should attend local schools
as has happened in Maribyrnong. Ed. committee across all IDCs"
believe that effective classes in manual arts, cooking, painting,
etc, ought to be given to offset boredom and possibly to serve as
a starting point for those given release. Of course, English classes
should be mandatory"
children (especially in detention) could have story telling, music,
and some theatre to distract them from the persistent dreary surroundings
they are living in"
should learn about the cultural background of their students - our
assumptions are not always appropriate the children need to
learn basic things - such as learning at a desk, or what to do with
pencil and paper."
spoke about the need to assist children to break through the walls
they built around their trauma. She explains some of their formal
and informal needs:
Melbourne, they go to a language centre for 6 months. Many of these
children have had no schooling, or interrupted schooling after
6 months, they are put into a class of their age level. A 14 year
old, without proper schooling, in a class with children of the same
age. It isn't going to work. It is a recipe for disaster.
need bilingual schooling in preparation for the general system.
There are adult aids, who speak their languages, who could help
the teachers and if they had specialised schooling for two
years, then they could catch up. They need to have guidance officers,
welfare officers who are there to help with the difficulties. These
kids will have to have emotional, traumatic problems, and yet we
are not dealing with them. Yet we will wonder in 5 years why they
are getting into gangs. Those problems are not being dealt with.
We need to put into place proper educational systems. Our own kids
find it hard enough to keep up with school."
with experience in the East Timorese centres:
teacher should understand some of the possible [mental health] patterns,
or the way that some people deal with trauma or stress there
needs to be someone committed to the program and hired for the children
- some cultural background is necessary. There can be a sense of
shame attached to mental health issues."
On the trial
at Woomera to take women and children out of the Centre
who lives near Woomera:
are] "worried about parental relationships: mother/father;
father/child. Most women in their own country do not have this liberty
and find it difficult. Local people in Woomera are not friendly
to the idea. It is a small country town with insufficient services."
are almost "cemented" together. That is the whole family
group as most others have been killed. The bond is so strong and
they dread to be separated. Separation is not the answer"
Difficulty would be the mother's lack of English - if the child
becomes the interpreter it can put responsibility onto a young child."
view of my experience I strongly recommend education OUTSIDE the
centres. If in school with children from the Australian community,
the attitudes of the latter need to be assessed. Children seeking
asylum in Australia need to be protected from further rejection.
The immediate, urgent, need is to learn English and understand Australian
culture and practices. This is what will help immediately. Other
aspect of education can be addressed in programs for the children
after they have left the centre. [Also], school aged children need
to be in school at least 4 hours per day."
worker explained that for at least one family released on a similar
scheme, the children "hated visiting [the father] in detention
and had lots of behavioural reactions after each visit."
of Leaders of Religious Institutes Proposes
CLRI is in the
process of completing a full alternative humanitarian program policy,
which will be launched in time for the 2002 DIMIA Review. The basic
principles of the policy are now clear, however, and form a basis
for the following suggestions.
- When detention
is considered necessary for people who have not yet been immigration
cleared, it must be limited to the shortest time necessary to determine
applicants' identities, basic claims, health needs, and prima facie
- CLRI believes
that these initial screening and admission needs require no more
than 30 days.
- All asylum
seekers must be released from detention at the end of that 30 days,
unless there are reasonable grounds for believing that they pose
a risk to the security or safety of the Australian community.
- All asylum
seekers must be presumed eligible for release
- Any asylum
seeker detained beyond 30 days must have immediate access to review
of their detention, in order for the detaining authority to establish
the reasonableness of the belief in their risk to the community.
The lack of identity documents does not constitute reasonable grounds.
- Any detention
must be within easy access of a major Australian city.
- Any detention
of Asylum seekers must be separate from "removal" and
- At all times,
families must be kept together. When the detention of one family
member is unavoidable, families must be given a choice as to how
and where they will reside. The responsible authorities will ensure
that the family is assisted in settling within easy distance of
the detained family member. Should a separated family have relatives
in an Australian city and wish to live with or near them, the detained
family member shall be kept as close as possible to that city.
- Should families
with children require detention, their cases must take priority
over all others for speedy processing.
- Should any
children remain with their families in detention, they must be released
to the community for schooling as soon as possible. Whether or not
the children are enrolled in school, families with children shall
be allowed to leave the detention centre regularly for social and
- Should any
families remain in detention, or in any government provided residential
facility, the parents shall have complete control over their children,
within the limits of Australian child protection standards. This
includes the provision of facilities to allow family meals and children's
occasional eating at the times and in the manner most appropriate
to the family.
- Families in
detention, or in any Government facilities, must be given separate
living quarters, where they can find privacy and intimacy.
- The Woomera-style
women and children release program must not be the model for future
detention alternatives. After the trauma of flight and travel to
get to Australia, asylum seekers must be allowed and supported in
their need for a united family unit. Children, in particular, need
as normal as possible an environment upon arrival in Australia,
and to meet this, Australian Government practice must treat the
retention of family bonds and supports as paramount.
- Upon release,
all asylum seekers must be given access to settlement and social
services at least at the level of permanent residents. All social
services must be provided through main-stream Government bodies
such as Centrelink, Medicare, the Department of Housing. Settlement
services and assistance shall still be provided through community
programs, partly funded by Government.
offices in areas densely populated with refugees should have a designated
person to help with refugee and asylum seeker clients, as is already
being done in some parts of Sydney.
- All asylum
seekers and refugees living in the community shall have full work
and study rights immediately upon release.
- All refugees
must be granted permanent protection visas, regardless of their
mode or path of travel or entry to Australia.
- People found
by Australia to be eligible for refugee status, or for an on-shore
humanitarian grounds visa, must be immediately eligible to apply
for family reunion with their immediate family members and dependents.
May 1, 2002
of Leaders of Religious Institutes
72 Rosebery Ave,
(PO Box 259)
Rosebery, NSW 1445
Ph: (02) 9663 2199
Updated 9 January 2003.