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Submission to the National

Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from

Mercy Refugee Service

Submission prepared

by Mercy Refugee Service Research Worker,

Thérèse B. Cerneaz, BDesign Hons (UTS), Dip Chem (RMIT),

GDEd (Sec) (UTS)

The Mercy Refugee


is part of the relief and development cross-cultural work of the Institute

of Sisters of Mercy Australia. Mercy Refugee Service is entrusted to serve

without discrimination the uprooted and displaced people in our world.

It was established in 1983 to respond to the plight of refugees in south-east

Asia. At that time volunteers were called on to provide health care, education,

social welfare and counselling support to refugees in camps in Malaysia,

Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and in Cambodia. From then on Mercy

Refugee Service has been actively supporting refugee projects worldwide.

The organisation strives at all times to foster a cooperative relationship

with beneficiaries both in Australia and overseas. Mercy Refugee Service

in Australia assists widely in the resettlement of refugees from many

places around the world.

Appendix 7 - Setting

up a New Arrivals School, Puckapunyal Victoria is available by contacting


of Reference Addressed:

The broad term of

reference addressed is

3. The adequacy

and effectiveness of the policies, agreements, laws, rules and practice

governing children in immigration detention, or child asylum seekers,

… with particular reference to education.'

This submission directly

addresses the elaborated terms of reference in the Background

Paper 6: Education.

1. National Inquiry into Children

in Immigration Detention.

The terms of reference

include consideration of the access to and scope and content of educational

programs and how educational programs in detention compare with educational

programs in Australia….

2. The right to education.

The right to education,

read in conjunction with the principle of non-discrimination, requires

secondary and other forms of education to be provided to all school age

asylum seekers in Australia insofar as it is available to Australian children.

The Convention provides that all asylum seeker children, even those who

have had their applications for refugee status rejected, are entitled

to similar education as other children in Australia.

3. Other relevant rights.

The non-discrimination

principle requires that child asylum seekers be treated similarly to other

children in Australia.

9. School curriculum.

The inquiry welcomes

submissions that discuss the curricula in Australian schools in relation

to that offered to child asylum seekers in detention. Submission may include

discussion of such aspects as subjects, assessment, reporting and certification.


The education being

offered to the children detained in Australian Immigration Detention Centres

appears to contravene both the convention on the Rights of the Child and

the Australian State Education Acts.

The harsh living

conditions and the length of time in detention can have a detrimental

effect on the children's health and ability to be educated.

There are solutions

to this lack of adequate education and there are many organizations and

individuals who have the expertise and are willing to offer solutions.

It would appear that

a change in attitude and adequate funding from the authorities that currently

administer the detention centres is required.


The information in

this submission was obtained through:

  • Personal interviews.
  • Telephone interviews.
  • Internet search.

The information collected

from the interviews is empirical data that I have attempted to verify

independently. Frequently several interviewees independent of each other

provided the same information and this was taken as verification.

The interviews were

carried out between 26 February 2002 and 3 April 2002 and an average interview

was two hours in duration.

All of the people

interviewed had personal experience with the detention centres as either

current or ex-detainees, teachers, a councillor and a nurse or were qualified

educators. A total of 34 people were interviewed, 13 connected to Port

Hedland, three to Woomera, seven to Villawood, one to Maribyrnong and

11 educators. There was some overlap in the categories.

In general terms:


were asked about their previous education, present education, current

educational facilities, curriculum and resources, the effect of their

current situation on their ability to learn, problems and 'their story'.

Staff Members

were asked about the current management, curriculum, resources, facilities,

conditions, the effect of detainment on the children's ability to learn

and for suggestions of what is needed for an adequate education of detained



were asked about existing curriculum/curriculum guidelines, (including

assessment and reporting), teaching strategies and teaching and student

resources that are available and appropriate for schooling children

in detention.

All names have been

withheld to maintain confidentiality. Some interviewees have agreed to

the release of their name if necessary and the author of this submission

holds a list of all names. All care has been taken not to include identifying

features where unfavourable consequences could result.



There are six Immigration

Detention Centres in Australia. They are at Port Hedland, Curtin and Perth

in Western Australia, Woomera in South Australia, Maribyrnong in Victoria

and Villawood in NSW. The following data have been collected on four of

these centres, Port Hedland, Woomera, Maribyrnong and Villawood.

A number of the following

educational and teaching practices appear to contravene the Convention

on the Rights of the Child (CROC), (1989). [1] Australia

agreed to be bound by the Convention in 1990, and the Australian States

Education Acts of the four states where detention centres are situated.

Each Australian State has sovereign educational powers. The Australian

States and Territories use The Adelaide Declaration (1999), [2]

National Goals for Schooling in the 21st Century, as the basis for curriculum

development in Australian schools. Each Education State Act is interpreted

by a Curriculum Authority which has the responsibility to implement that

State's Act. Each of these Authorities has produced a curriculum document

outlining educational requirements for schools in their state.



As at February 2002

there were 90 children, 78 under the age of 16. There were 33 adult women,

most with children, some many. One had seven children, five girls and

two boys, another five. There were eight unaccompanied male minors and

these boys have been through great difficulties on their own. In many

ways they are 'men' yet they are still children. They feel too old to

be with the other children but are too young for the adult men.

The students are

divided according to age, not level of achievement. There can be four

or five different levels within a class.

There are three students

from one family with intellectual disabilities. The teachers have no training

to deal with such children and there are no special facilities for them.

These students were not attending school.

General Conditions

The general living

conditions are included in this report because they have a direct impact

on the children's ability to be educated.

The camp is hot and

dirty. It is a very harsh environment for detainees especially for children.

There is no outside shade for the detainees, as a consequence the children

play inside. There are three or four different pieces of playground equipment

with no shade. The small space means even walking exercise is limited

to three-minute circuits.


When detainees first

arrive they go into "separation". They can be here for up to

a year. The average length of time in "separation" is eight

months. Here they are in an isolated accommodation block with two hours

outside each day. In practice this can be as little as ten minutes. One

person in separation had not seen the stars for seven months. There is

no access to the outside world through the media i.e., TV, radio, papers,

telephones. There is no music. At one stage during 2001 there were seventy

people in separation. These detainees were accommodated three to four

per single rooms.

The Main Compound

On leaving "separation"

the detainees are placed in the main compound. While the detainees are

freer in the main compound it is still a difficult lifestyle. The following

are just some examples of everyday activities that negatively impact on

the children:

  • Children are exposed

    to extreme conditions. They are not protected from what is happening

    in the camp. They see attempted suicides of family members and other

    detainees on a regular basis. Children report these incidents in class.

    Any protest behaviour such as hunger strikes result in punitive retaliation

    on the detainees including children by Australasian Correctional Management

    (ACM) staff.

  • There is very

    little privacy. Rooms are often searched and private belongings are

    searched while the students are in school. This can be very upsetting

    for some students.

  • There is a head

    count three to four times a day and at least once during the night.

  • Children are handcuffed

    when they are transported to court.

  • When detainees

    are placed in isolation in K-Block cells they are under constant camera

    surveillance and children can be separated from their mothers for up

    to two weeks.

  • All detainees

    are given a number and this number is used instead of the person's name.

    The children's numbers were called for them to receive their Christmas

    present. When asked by the chief ACM officer to use their names, the

    officer replied that he did not know them.

  • Children stay

    up late at night, as late as 1.00 or 2.00 am. One child did not come

    to classes for two weeks and the ACM officers did not check why.

  • The food at times

    is unpalatable such as mouldy fruit and children can come to class hungry.

The harsh physical,

psychological and emotional environment at Port Hedland makes educating

children very difficult. The evidence shows that the children can be disturbed,

depressed and lethargic.


Contraventions of International and Australian Law

A number of the following

educational and teaching practices appear to contravene both the Convention

on the Rights of the Child (CROC), (1989) [3] and the

Western Australian (WA) Curriculum Council Act (1997). [4]

The following

deficiencies have been noted:

Teachers are not

given a duty statement.

Teachers are appointed

for six-week blocks with no cross over period or feedback between teachers.

As a result there is no continuity of education.

Teachers are not

accountable to anyone for what is being done in the classroom. Accordingly

the teachers could be doing anything.

There is an overwhelming

lack of teacher support such as a curriculum, curriculum guidelines, basic

student resources, basic teaching resources, AV equipment and psychological

debriefing for teachers and students. The resources that do exist demonstrate

better how desperate the situation is. The students have pencils, an exercise

book, a maths and spelling workbook, an old desk each when the centre

is not overcrowded, sometimes erasers, coloured pencils and photocopied

sheets, occasionally paints and brushes and a classroom if they are not

in separation. The teachers have a white board and limited access to a

photocopier. There are two computers, one of which functions.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Article 29.2 of the CROC … that education

given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as

may be laid down by the state. And Key Principles 1, 3 and 4; and the

Overarching Learning Outcome 3 of the WA Curriculum Council Act (1997).

Even though children

can be detained for years, English studies are prioritised at the exclusion

of other subjects. If other subjects and alternate communication skills

are presented it is for a limited time and on an irregular basis. As a

consequence children lose knowledge and skills in their own language and

culture as well as falling behind in all other subjects. It is worth noting

that when taught in "separation" each group receives a maximum

of two hours tuition a day, and only four in the main block.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Articles 28.1 (a), (b), (d) and 29.1 (a), (c) of

CROC. And Key Principles 3, 4 and 5; and the Overarching Learning Outcomes;

2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 of the WA Curriculum Council Act (1997)

ACM staff members

have been seen to threaten children physically and with loss of rights

or not gaining visas. The following is an example of punitive measures

that have been employed. In 2001 a 15 year-old detainee who was misbehaving

was hit with a baton by an ACM officer and then placed in isolation in

K Block. He was released after the other children went on a hunger strike.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Article 28.2 of the CROC, and the Overarching Learning

Outcome 13 of the WA Curriculum Council Act (1997)

Children have been

known to miss school for weeks without action or enquiry by the Centre


Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Article 28.1 (e) of the CROC and the WA Schools

Education Act (1999) [5]

See Appendix 3 for

detailed information on the current situation at Port Hedland and 'stories'

of both current and ex-detainees.


As at April 2002,

eight new classrooms two computer rooms and a crèche have been

completed. Each classroom has a white board and shelving. The current

teachers were consulted on their requirements for the classrooms. No information

could be gained on the current education being given to children or teacher

and student resources present. The classrooms are all demountables in

accordance with military site requirements.

General Information

The information collected

on Woomera is from 2000 and 2001.

In late 2000 there

were 1,400 detainees at Woomera and of these approximately 300 were women

and approximately150 children. There was no education conducted at the

centre at that time by ACM. A few of the detainees took on the role of

English teacher once a week. For a short time in 2000 the children went

to the local school in Woomera once a week. The children thought it was

fantastic to see grass.

As at March 2001

there were some allocated classrooms where children sat at little tables.

At this time there were between 150 and 180 children.

There was no playground

equipment at July 2000. Once a week the nurses took the very young children,

under six years, into the local Woomera playground. Again, the children

were delighted to see grass. This arrangement stopped after the August

2000 riots. The only playground equipment at September 2000 was one slide

with nothing around it and no shade so the slide was too hot to use during

the summer months.

Most medical problems

among children were related to depression and anxiety. Some teenage boys

were bed-wetting and there was an on-going problem with self-harm by the

children. A ten-year-old boy cut himself with a double razor twice. Often

when parents were sick, depressed or disturbed the children would become

unstable, depressed, disturbed or have difficulties in concentrating to

the extent that they were often unable to attend school. "The

children were really sad and got sadder."

There was no counselling

room to treat detainees. The detainees were treated in the general compound

and the councillor would see up to eighty patients in one day, some of

these being serious attempted suicide cases.

Some action taken

by ACM staff appears to cause anxiety and insecurities in the detainees.

Once twenty boys were taken away from their mothers to Adelaide and the

mothers did not know if they would ever see their sons again. Another

time about 80 detainees including some children were 'rounded-up' with

the staff refusing to say why or where they were going. They were taken

to Port Hedland or Curtin. After riots or breakouts detainees were locked

in rooms for hours, children would develop renal colic, rather than wet

themselves, males would 'hold-on' and their penis would become grossly

swollen and need medical treatment.


Maribyrnong is a

small detention centre situated in suburban Melbourne. The conditions

are crammed with a very institutional prison-like atmosphere. All facilities

are housed in one long building with effectively no views to the outside

world from anywhere in the camp. There are two small isolation rooms for

'mis-behaves'. Surveillance cameras are on at all times. A recent coat

of paint, new curtains, and more couches for watching TV, have removed

some of the previous shabbiness of the centre and slightly improved the

comfort of the detainees.

The mild Melbourne

climate, access to telephones and visitors and some staff who are respectful

of the detainees helps to make detainment in Maribyrnong a less harsh

experience than Port Hedland or Woomera. However the detainees tend to

be lethargic, lack motivation and powers of concentration. "Detainment

is drawing the life out of these people".

The great majority

of detainees are people who have overstayed their visas while others have

served prison sentences and are waiting deportation. Many of these detainees

are detained for one or two weeks only before being deported. Some have

children. The education of these children has not been investigated or

considered in this submission.

The children who

stay long term at Maribyrnong usually belong to the minority of the detainees

who have been transferred from other camps such as Port Hedland and Woomera.

These children or members of their family are frequently disturbed when

they arrive at Maribyrnong as a result of their previous experiences in

their homelands, en route to Australia or in a previous detention camp

in Australia. The following story illustrates how disturbed some children

are. One small child was observed to be quietly standing threading a pearl-headed

pin in and out of the skin on his/her hand.

As at 1 April 2002

there were five children detained at Maribyrnong

Educational Facilities

And Resources

There is one small

pokey classroom inside the men's area. The old and broken desks were recently

replaced with new tables and chairs. Being inside the men's area can create

difficulties for some women and young girls, especially considering the

mix of people detained at Maribyrnong.

There are two computers

outside the classroom. These are mainly used for playing games.

There are some books

in the men's area and some children's books in the family area. Most of

these books have been donated.

Staff and Classes

There is one full

time adult English Teacher employed by ACM who has been at the centre

for the past twelve months. The primary age children attend the local

Catholic School.

There seems to be

no suitable provision for the education of secondary school-aged children.

The local English Language School that specifically caters for New Arrival

children has unsuccessfully tried to arrange with ACM to have detained

children in their school.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiency

appears to contravene Articles 28.1 (b) and 29.1 (a), (c), (d) of CROC

and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Act 2000. [6]

There was a case

where two children did not go to school because they apparently did not

want to. Management did nothing about this situation.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Articles 28.1 (d) of CROC.

An Activities Officer

has recently been appointed who has taken the pre-schoolers on outings

to the Zoo and local library. The English teacher also spends approximately

half an hour per day reading stories to the pre-schoolers.


Villawood is regarded

as one of the better detention camps in Australia by both staff and detainees.

It is situated in suburban Sydney.

Conditions at Villawood

are far less harsh than at Woomera or Port Hedland because of the milder

climate, a reasonable amount of shade, access to visitors, access to telephones,

and a less punitive staff. However those individuals coming from other

camps have already experienced very harsh treatment. This, together with

the ongoing searches, confiscation of property, continuing untreated mental

health problems within families, lack of inspirational resources or activities,

and years of living locked away from a 'normal' society, make it a disturbing

environment for a child. The general living conditions have an impact

on the children's ability to be educated.

There are two groups

of detainees at Villawood; those that have overstayed their visas, making

up 70% of the population, and those who have been transferred from other

camps. Detainees are from a wide variety of backgrounds.

There is a general

lethargy and many detainees are depressed. They are preoccupied with being

released in the near future, or with the fear of being deported and the

unthinkable consequences this could have for them. These concerns are

so overwhelming that the parents have little motivation to contemplate

educational initiatives and the children lack both motivation and powers

of concentration.

As at 5 April 2002,

there were twelve children detained at Villawood. The uncertainty in their

young lives and the hash prison-like conditions of detainment are having

an adverse effect on these children. Some have been in detention for two

or more years, in one detention camp for some years only to be moved to

another without any indication of how long they will be detained. For

some children, it is six years since they left their homeland and a 'regular'

education. The children are subject to head counts four times a day, searches

of their belongings and confiscation of their personal property, containment

and surveillance inside very high barbwire fences. There is not enough

for them to do or enough resources to fully occupy and interest them.

This is a disturbing educational environment for children.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

This appears

to contravene Articles 28.1 (a), (b) of the CROC

Even though children

can be detained for years, English studies are prioritised at the exclusion

of other subjects. As a consequence children lose knowledge and skills

in their own language and culture as well as falling behind in all other

subjects. While they have access to computers no computer instruction

is given. It is worth noting the limited hours of instruction and lack

of teachers qualified to teach a full range of subjects.

Implications at

International and Australian Law -

The above deficiencies

appear to contravene Articles 28.1 (a), (b), (d) and 29.1 (a), (c) of

the CROC and section 6.1, 6.2 and 8 of the Education Act 1990 (NSW).


See Appendix 4. VILLAWOOD

for more details on Villawood


International Law

The current education

being offered to children who are being held in Australian Immigration

Detention Centres appears to contravene the following sections of the

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989):

  • Article 28. 1

    (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e).

  • Article 28. 2.
  • Article 29. 1(a),

    (b), (c), (d) and (e).

Australian Law

The mandatory requirements

of each Australian State's Education Act are stated as Curriculum Outcomes

and are achieved through eight learning areas. These do not appear to

be fulfilled by the education currently offered to the children held in

Australian Immigration Detention Centres.

Educational Deficiencies

The following deficiencies

were noted in the education being carried out in the three detention centres

that were investigated in detail:

    1. English, almost

      exclusively, is the only subject being taught.

    2. The children

      are not only not progressing in all subjects, except English, but

      they are also losing the knowledge and skills they had prior to leaving

      their homeland. If and when they are released from detention and attend

      local schools, the detained children also find they are not adequately

      computer literate. The limited hours of instruction and lack of teachers

      qualified to teach a full range of subjects would make it very difficult

      to adequately educate secondary students.

    3. There appears

      to be a complete lack of essential teacher support materials such

      as curriculum or curriculum guidelines. There also appears to be an

      almost complete lack of basic teaching resources such as AV equipment,

      reference texts, teaching texts, and student resources such as student

      texts. Not all teachers have the qualifications or experience needed

      to teach in detention centres.

    4. There is no

      accountability on the part of the teachers.

    5. The children's

      environment is detrimental to learning.

    6. Children can

      be demeaned on excursions by segregating them from and not allowing

      them to speak to children from other schools, who are not detainees.

    7. There is no

      evidence of assessment or reporting of student aptitude or progress.


ACM are not educating

the children in their care, and neither they or the Department of Immigration

and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) are providing the money that is needed

to adequately resource and staff the schools.

It appears that for

security, financial or other reasons, ACM are not accepting the offers

of help from the following organizations:

  • The Victorian

    Department of Education Western English School.

  • Port Hedland Public


  • Sacred Heart School,


  • Many and varied



The following recommendations

are in order of descending choice.

Recommendation 1. Community


All children and

their primary carers should be removed from the detention centres and

given protective visas that enable them to access free of charge the New

Arrivals educational programs run by the State Education Departments.


This would remove

the children from a potentially psychologically and mentally damaging

environment. It would also give them access to a full education that

meets the requirements of both International and Australian Laws.

Recommendation 2. Community


If the children are

to remain in detention then they should be educated in Australian Schools

near the detention centres that have New Arrivals and English as a Second

Language (ESL) programs. If this should occur it is essential the ACM

and DIMA personnel adopt a culture of support for the children. Suitable

infrastructure would need to be available to transport the children and

other issues such as spending money for lunches, equipment, text, uniform

if necessary, and excursions would need to be provided for. There are

schools and education departments willing to take these children. The

Victorian Department of Education Western English School even offered

to transport the children from Maribyrnong detention to their school each

day in their own bus.


The children

would have access to an education that meets the requirements of both

International and Australian Laws. The interaction between the detainees

and the Australian school children would greatly assist in the assimilation

of the detained children when they receive protection visas, or with

international relations if they were deported.

Recommendation 3. Detention


This option is the

least preferred for the following reasons:

  • The children would

    still be living in a potentially damaging environment,

  • ACM do not have

    the expertise to run a school;

  • The detention

    centres under ACM do not meet the requirement of, an environment that

    fosters learning, a requirement for a school;

  • It appears to

    be very difficult to supply and maintain adequately qualified staff;

  • It is impossible

    to adequately regulate or evaluate the education being offered in the

    centres with the very limited access for any regulatory body, to the

    immigration detention centres.

Requirements at

Law for Detention Schooling

For this option to

meet both International and Australian Law requirements the following

need to be done:

    1. Multipurpose

      classrooms - provision of a teaching space for classes running simultaneously

      with the elements as listed in 'Setting up a School' [8]

      including areas where detainees are held in separation;

    2. A student Library/Reading

      Room as described in 'Setting up a School';

    3. Equipment and

      Resources as listed in 'Setting up a School';

    4. A permanent,

      stable and experienced staff with suitably diverse qualifications

      to teach all mandatory key- learning areas as prescribed by State


    5. Implementation

      of a the State Curriculum Framework or equivalent;

    6. Provision for

      children who will be deported to be instructed in native language

      and culture.

Assistance Available

for Establishing Detention Schools

Every Australian

State with a detention centre has a State Education Department program

designed specifically for the special needs of the type of children that

are detained in the detention centres. These New Arrivals programs come

complete with curriculum / curriculum guideline / curriculum outcomes

/ curriculum framework, and resource lists.

Western Australia

Education Department [9] has an intensive language

tuition program for 'New Arrivals'. Up to four terms are provided for

permanent new arrivals. There is a specific resource centre that is rotated

on school sites. Students spend the whole day in the centre for the first

six months, then they are part time in the centre and part time in the

regular school classes for the next six months. This would be available

to ACM if they were willing to pay. There are bi-lingual resources and

a collegiate network.

The department

of Education Training and Employment, South Australia [10]

has written their own submission to the National Inquiry into Children

in Immigration Detention.

The Victorian

Department of Education and Training, Learning and Teaching Division Office

of School Education have intensive programs, and various resources

such as; a Multi Media Resource Kit, "Where's English?" and

a CD ROM, curriculum@work, which has documents and suggested resources

for key learning area. For more information see the ESL website

The ESL Project Officers

at Language and Multicultural Education Resource Centre, in Carlton Victoria,

have produced an ESL Resource Kit [11] and a list of

requirements needed to set up the School at Puckapunyal, Victoria, to

cater for the Kosavo Refugees. [12]

The Western English

Language School [13] provides education for New Arrivals.

They had verbally arranged to have the children from the Maribyrnong Detention

Centre and they do not know why but they just did not come. They are more

than willing to accept them. They have sent educational resource material

to the centre.

The primary school

aged children are attending the local Catholic Primary School.

The department

of Education Training and Employment, NSW [14] has

written its own submission to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration


Recommendation 4 Children

not in Detention who are Excluded from Services

Remove the existing

injustice in the eligibility criteria for access to appropriate education,

between children with permanent protection visas and those with temporary

protection visas. At present in WA the children with permanent protection

visas have free access to 4 terms of New Arrivals programs whereas those

on temporary visas have no free access. All children on Temporary Protection

Visas have limited access to services.





Article 28


States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with

a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal

opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary

education compulsory and available free to all;

(b) Encourage the

development of different forms of secondary education, including general

and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every

child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free

education and offering financial assistance in case of need;

(c) Make higher

education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate


(d) Make educational

and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to

all children;

(e) Take measures

to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out


2. States Parties

shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is

administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and

in conformity with the present Convention.

3. States Parties

shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating

to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination

of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access

to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In

this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing


Article 29 General

comment on its implementation

1. States Parties

agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development

of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities

to their fullest potential;

(b) The development

of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles

enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development

of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity,

language and values, for the national values of the country in which

the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate,

and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) 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


(e) The development

of respect for the natural environment.

2. No part of the

present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with

the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational

institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth

in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the

education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards

as may be laid down by the State.




ACT (1997)

In Western Australia

the Curriculum Council is the body responsible for implementing the Education

act. The Curriculum Council was established under the Curriculum Council

Act (1997).

  • Curriculum Council


The Curriculum Council

has provided a Curriculum Framework for kindergarten to year 12 schooling.



The Curriculum Framework

is an inclusive framework for all students in Western Australia. Inclusivity

means ensuring that all groups of students are included and valued. The

Framework sets out a series of outcomes agreed to be essential for all

students to achieve. The agreed outcomes form a common core of achievement

These learning outcomes

comprise the mandatory element of the Curriculum Framework which all schools

in Western Australia must either implement or obtain an exemption from

doing so from the Minister for Education. In addition, there are reporting

requirements as agreed between the Council and the governing bodies of

systems, sectors and schools.

In accordance with

the Curriculum Council Act, 1997, the Curriculum Framework sets out "...the

knowledge, understandings, skills, values and attitudes that students

are expected to acquire" (Section 4(b)). The Curriculum Framework

describes these requirements as a series of learning outcomes set out

in the Overarching and eight Learning Area Statements.

The Overarching


This Overarching

Statement outlines seven key principles which underpin the Curriculum

Framework and describes the Overarching learning outcomes to which all

learning areas contribute. It describes learning and assessment strategies

that are consistent with the Curriculum Framework and which promote achievement

of the outcomes.

Seven Key Principles:

    1. An encompassing

      view of curriculum.

      …It encompasses the learning environment, teaching methods, the

      resources provided for learning, the system of assessment, the school

      ethos and the ways in which students and staff behave towards one

      another. All of these provide experience from which the students learn.


    2. An explicit

      acknowledgement of core values.

      …Social and civic responsibility, resulting in a commitment to

      exploring and promoting the common good; meeting individual needs

      in ways which do not infringe the rights of others; participating

      in democratic process; social justice and cultural diversity;…..

    3. Inclusivity.

      The Curriculum Framework is for all WA schools. Inclusivity means

      providing all groups of students, irrespective of educational setting,

      with access to a wide and empowering range of knowledge, skills and

      values. It means recognising and accommodating the different starting

      points, learning rates and previous experiences of individual students.

    4. Flexibility.

      …In particular it must encourage effective use of new technologies

      as tools of learning. …

    5. Integration,

      breadth and balance.

      …all students need a broad grasp of the various fields of knowledge

      and endeavour. …

    6. A developmental


      Students develop and learn at different rates and in different ways,

      constructing new knowledge and understanding in ways which link with

      their learning to previous experiences. …it provides students

      and their parents with a clear sense of the direction of students

      learning, and through appropriate assessment and reporting procedures,

      of how students are progressing.

    7. Collaboration

      and partnership

Overarching Learning


    1. Students use

      language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information

      and interact with others.

    2. Students select,

      integrate and apply numerical and spatial concepts and techniques.

    3. Students recognise

      when and what information is needed, locate and obtain it from a range

      of sources and evaluate, use and share it with others.

    4. Students select,

      use and adapt technologies.

    5. Students describe

      and reason about patterns, structures and relationships in order to

      understand, interpret, justify and make predictions.

    6. Students visualise

      consequences, think laterally, recognise opportunity and potential

      and are prepared to test options.

    7. Students understand

      and appreciate the physical, biological and technological world and

      have the knowledge and skills to make decisions in relation to it.

    8. Students understand

      their cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge,

      skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia.

    9. Students interact

      with people and cultures other than their own and are equipped to

      contribute to the global community.

    10. Students participate

      in creative activity of their own and understand and engage with the

      artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others.

    11. Students value

      and implement practices that promote personal growth and well-being.

    12. Students are

      self-motivated and confident in their approach to learning and are

      able to work individually and collaboratively.

    13. Student recognise

      that everyone has the right to feel valued and be safe, and, in this

      regard, understand their rights and obligations and behave responsibly.

The Learning Area


Learning areas individually

and collectively contribute to the achievement of the Overarching learning

outcomes. Learning Area Statements are provided for The Arts; English;

Health and Physical Education; Languages Other Than English; Mathematics;

Science; Society and Environment; and Technology and Enterprise. These

areas are a useful way of categorising the knowledge, skills and values

essential for the education of students in Western Australia. They provide

a structure for defining learning outcomes, for providing breadth and

balance in students' education and for ensuring attention is given to

specific disciplines.

The learning areas

are consistent with those endorsed by the Australian Education Council

as the basis for curriculum development in Australian schools and which

almost all Australian States and Territories use. Adoption of these eight

learning areas for the Curriculum Framework is in the interests of students

who move between jurisdictions and reflects a spirit of cooperation among

educators from all Australian States and Territories.

Learning Areas

  • The Arts
  • English
  • Health and Physical


  • Languages Other

    Than English

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Society and Environment
  • Technology and







Teaching in "Separation"

No classrooms.

One teacher who

taught detainees in separation for two months in 2001, taught in the

two common rooms. In one the window was used for a board, in the other

a sheet of plastic stuck to the wall. There was no white or black board.

There is no interpreter

in separation.

Timetable -

  • 9.00 am -10.30

    am. 12 children between five and fifteen years.

  • 11.00 am - 1.00

    pm. Young men aged over seventeen with other men up to forty years

    of age.

  • 1.00 pm - 2.30pm.

    Three to four unaccompanied male youths. This class only lasted for

    a few months.

  • 2.30pm - 4.00pm.

    Young adult men aged between twenty and thirty-eight.

English was the

only subject taught. It is very hard to teach in isolation. Most of

the detainees have no English and there is no interpreter.

Teaching in the Main


Once detainees

have been through the initial process, they are released into the main

compound and able to attend the 'school'.

There are four

classrooms. There can be over 26 students in a classroom that comfortably

accommodates 15 students. The desks are very old. The chairs have to

be stacked for some children to reach the desk. There are grills on

the windows and the electric light is on at all times. One teacher found

this disconcerting, a form of torture.

The Port Hedland

Primary School is directly opposite the detention centre. The school

facilities have been offered for the use of the detainees. Children

from the centre joined the local school once.


    1. No textbooks.

      In late March 2002, a diary and individual maths and spelling workbooks,

      but no accompanying text, were provided for each student. The maths

      books were for two different levels only.

    2. No photocopier

      since October 2001 when it broke down. Despite several requests by

      the teachers no replacement photocopier has been provided. All photocopying

      is done in the management block, access is difficult and it can take

      as long as a week to get copying done.

    3. There is no

      library. However there is a bookshelf of old material donated by the

      local Catholic School and some literacy books.

    4. Pencils and

      exercise books are provided, sometimes coloured pencils and erasers.

    5. A whiteboard

      in each classroom, but often no markers. The teachers often buy their

      own markers as it takes too long to get replacements through the official


    6. Two computers

      with Windows 97 and 95, only one working. No educational programs

      except typing. Computers can only be used after 2.30 pm. There is

      no internet access.


The teacher

is virtually the only resource, an impossible burden considering the

mix and type of student. No psychological or debriefing support is provided.

Employment Conditions

Teachers are employed

by an educational consultant.

ACM Teachers are

appointed for six-week blocks with the option of a three-week extension.

There is no overlapping of teachers or handover period. Teachers can be

re-employed for more blocks.

An example of one

teacher's employment record:

Salary. $27/hour.

The consulting firm that provides the teacher receives $38/hour/teacher.

No teacher job description or contract given.

The only document signed was a confidentiality agreement.

Teachers are watched

all the time by the ACM staff. Friendliness with the detainees is definitely

not permitted. Once the teachers leave the facility they are not permitted

to phone detainees still in detention. If they do so, this is grounds

for dismissal if they are re-employed.

The Programs Officer

is responsible for the School.

Staff at March


    1. Two teachers

      employed by ACM. One of these teachers teaches adult men as well as

      children. Hours 7.00 am-3.30pm, not all face to face teaching. English

      is their language of instruction. When one teacher left, an unqualified

      program officer 'taught' the pre-school and secondary school children

      in the one class.

    2. A voluntary

      teacher teaches English to adult women for two hours in the morning

      and supervises sewing for two hours in the afternoon.

    3. Detainees act

      as interpreters, two in each class. English into Persian (Farsi),

      Farsi into Arabic.

    4. These interpreters

      work the same hours as the teachers and get paid $1 per hour.

    5. Detainees take

      pre-school for three contact hours per day at $1 per hour.

    6. Voluntary music

      teachers from the local community have been admitted since February



No continuity

for students. It usually takes a teacher a few weeks to familiarise

themselves with the teaching conditions, the students, development levels,

abilities etc. of the students. This leaves too short a time to achieve

outcomes. For teachers that are not working out six weeks could be a

long time, for others it is frustrating.

Some students

will have six or seven teachers with no hand-over period and repetition

of material. Students lose motivation, become bored, their advancement



    1. No curriculum

      or programs provided for the teachers. ACM declined when asked for

      time allocation and group collaboration to write programs and discuss


    2. ACM makes it

      clear that English is the priority.

    3. What is done

      in the class is completely at the discretion of the teacher. There

      is no check by any authority as to what material is being covered

      in the classroom or what strategies are being used. It is totally

      up to the teacher. "This is horrendous because what is done with

      the students totally depends on the quality of the teacher. The teacher

      could be creative or terrible."

    4. Currently English

      is the priority. Very little else is done: a little Maths, Australian

      History, World Geography and Arts and Craft.

    5. Nothing is addressed

      in relation to the students' own culture.

    6. No sport or

      organised outdoor activities.

    7. Excursions.

      These are frowned on by ACM because of the costs involved, such as

      a security officer or bus. There was only one excursion between August

      2001 and November 2001. One excursion only since Christmas 2002, to

      the local swimming pool.


"The burden

for teachers without curriculum support, guidance or supervising support

is very heavy."


are forgetting what they knew, and falling further and further behind

in all subjects except English."

"When teachers

organise parties/excursions the children are so happy. Their miserable

life is transformed for an hour or so. ACM officials take photos for

propaganda purposes. These 'happy' photos are sent to Canberra."

Evaluation / Assessment

No assessment of

students on arrival or prior to release or deportation.

No continuous assessment.

Recently, for the

purpose of continuity, two teachers tried to assess the students and keep

a record of what had been taught. Assessment of students was very difficult

with out photocopying facilities or textbooks. ACM Management are no concerned

with the lack of evaluation.

No assessment of

disabled students' disabilities.



should be:

    1. Both primary

      ESL teachers and secondary teachers qualified to teach all subjects.

    2. A curriculum

      used and programs written by a team and teachers given time allocation

      to prepare programs.

    3. Support for

      teachers, eg debriefing.

    4. Teacher resources.
    5. Text and activity

      books for the students. "The children own nothing. They could

      work from a book, take care of it and take it with them when they


    6. A reporting

      system with a file on each student. This file should include initial

      assessment, ongoing assessment and an exit report for future schools.

      This should be part of the teacher's job description and contract.

      7. Adequate notification for teachers when detainees are being released

      to allow student reports, exercise books etc., to be prepared.

      8. Communication between centres and management to facilitate the

      implementation of initiatives.

      9. Bilingual resources.



and fathers with both secondary and primary aged children.

The average length

of detainment in Port Hedland was 18 months. Previous education: started

school at six and a half or seven years. Five years of primary and between

one and three years of high school. Their curriculum included such subjects

as Maths, Science, History, Geography.

One mother worked

as an interpreter in the school, another cleaned toilets.


The children had

many teachers in the eighteen months period.

English only. One

teacher did a little Maths.

Classes 9.00 am -

12.00 pm with a morning recess break, and 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm.

No textbooks, only

photocopies, no stationary.

Two interpreters

(detainees) in each class. English - Persian (Farsi) and then Persian

to Arabic.

No homework.

No assessment.

Two computers, one


No educational programs,

except typing.

No computer instruction.

The children felt

it was a good idea to be instructed in English, but the interpreters did

not because they did not bother to think or answer in English when they

could do it in their first language.

They found school

boring and lacking purpose, suggesting a greater variety of subjects and

continuous assessment would help.

Both parents and

children were worried that so much knowledge had been lost.

Those who are now

in regular schools find they are significantly delayed for their age.

They are finding a lack of computer skills a difficulty at their present

school. They are very happy in their new school and keen to achieve and


Parent's View

The parents said

it was hard for the children to have their mind on education under the

conditions in which they were being detained. It was not the length of

detention as much as the inhumane way they were treated that caused the


"ACM is

the main problem, even the length of time would not be a problem if

they left us alone."

"If they

would just leave us in peace we could get on with being in detention

and serve the time with dignity."


are so many wrong things happening around us as well as personal family


"How (can)

you expect to help kids, to guide them in such [conditions] and be a

normal person when I get out of here"

"The children

do not have a 'job' to do. They are just filling in time."

"You cannot

call it education. It is just a way to spend a day and keep busy."

The parents went

to two ACM officers and talked through the whole situation including their

personal marriage problems. The officers admitted knowing their conditions

and educational problems, but insisted that they were not able to change


Mothers attempted

suicide, resulting in forced isolation from the children which had an

effect on children's ability to learn.

Theft of a baton

by a detainee, and the holding of family in rooms for hours without moving

or being permitted to go to the toilet unsupervised. Children were bribed

in an attempt to recover the baton. Personal belongings, even women's

underwear, were searched. ACM knew the use of the baton was illegal. The

detainees gave the baton to a member of parliament to show what instruments

were being used on them. They do not know if anything has come of it.

A knife made from

a shaving razor for preparing food was confiscated, and the detainee was


K Block has only

a bed, mattress, and constant camera surveillance.

Panadol is the only

medication given for all medical conditions

The detainees feel

that the "System" is trying to create a distance between the

detainees and the Australian public.

They have a concern

that Mr. Philip Ruddock is portraying them as criminals, as bad people.

A 15-year-old boy

was placed in K-Block and children went on a hunger strike to have him


These stories

were given as examples to illustrate the impact of detention on the children.





Educational Facilities


  • Two adjoining

    primary classrooms in a demountable.

  • A demountable

    with two rooms in Stage 2.

  • Two small adult

    classrooms in Stage 1-3

  • A computer room

    near the adult classroom.

  • An adult library

    and a children's library in the children's classroom.


There are seven computers,

with windows and games such as solitaire and free cell. No computer instructions

are given to students.

No information was

obtained on classroom or teacher resources.

Teaching Staff

Two Teachers:

  • One pre-school,


  • The other, four

    hours per day, four days per week.

There have been unsuccessful

requests for high school teachers of other subjects, such as Maths/Science

and Art teachers.

Students and Timetable

As at 5 April 2002

there were 12 children:

  • Six high school,

    one teenage girl does not attend school:

  • Three primary


  • Three pre-school



  • Pre-school classes

    are five hours per day, two days per week;

  • One primary class,

    the teenagers sit in the adjoining room and the teacher supervises them;

  • Adult women classes

    are four hours each Monday morning;

  • The older teenage

    boys can go to the adult male classes;

  • The teenage girl

    goes to the primary class.

Adult Teacher. Four

days per week

Timetable for each


  • 1 hour - Stage

    1, men's area.

  • 1 hour - Stage

    2, family area.

  • 1 hour - Stage

    3, followed by,

  • 1 hour - Stage


It takes approximately

half an hour for the teacher to go between Stages 1 and 2 and approximately

15 minutes between Stages 2 and 3.


  • Both parents

    and children say that very little teaching is done. The children spend

    a lot of the time in the classroom playing computer games.

  • The children

    said it was hard to take their education seriously when there was a

    lack of recognition of achievements or advancement for the children.

  • A general lethargy.

    The detainees were so preoccupied with being released in the near future

    that they had little motivation to contemplate educational initiatives.

    "We are in detention. Education is for when we are out."

  • Both the parents

    and children feel the children have not progressed, that they are falling

    behind their peers. The children have lost a lot of grammar and writing

    skills in their own language as well as skills in other subjects such

    as maths and science. One teenager's favourite subject had been science.

    He has done no science while being in detention, saying he has no resources

    to do it. It also seemed that he had lost motivation.

  • Extra staff

    is needed to allow for extra hours of teaching.

  • With the current

    facilities and the small number of high school aged children, it would

    be very difficult to provide an adequate secondary education in Villawood.





The Board of Studies

(BOS) New South Wales, Australia is the authority that interprets and

implements the Education Act.

The K-10 Curriculum

Framework (2002) and syllabuses can be found at

The Board of Studies

New South Wales, Australia

The following extracts

from the BOS document, lists the relevant sections of the Education Act

1990 (NSW). From;

6. Curriculum requirements

The Education

Act 1990 (NSW) establishes minimum curriculum requirements for students

attending New South Wales schools, and empowers the Board of Studies to

establish guidelines for courses of study. In addition, the Act and the

Board of Studies establish further requirements for the award of the School


School systems may

prescribe additional requirements beyond these.

6.1. Minimum Curriculum Requirements

for Years K - 6


Education Act prescribes the following minimum requirements for the Years

K - 6 school curriculum:

  • courses of study

    in each of the six key learning areas for primary education are to be

    provided for each child during each Year.

  • courses of study

    relating to Australia are to be included in the key learning area of

    Human Society and its Environment.

  • courses of study

    in both Art and Music are to be included in the key learning area of

    Creative and Practical Arts.

  • courses of study

    in a key learning area are to be provided in accordance with any relevant

    guideline developed by the Board of Studies.

Proposition 1:

The current Education Act requirements for the minimum Years K - 6 curriculum

should be maintained.

6.2 Minimum Curriculum Requirements

for Years 7 - 10

The Education Act

prescribes the following minimum requirements for the 7 - 10 school curriculum:

  • courses of study

    in six out of the eight key learning areas for secondary education are

    to be provided for each child

  • courses of study

    in the key learning areas of English, Mathematics, Science and Human

    Society and its Environment are to be provided during each Year, but

    the courses of study in the other key learning areas need not be provided

    during each Year

  • courses of study

    in a key learning area are to be provided in accordance with any relevant

    guideline developed by the Board of Studies.

Proposition 2:

The current Education Act requirements for the minimum Years 7 - 10

curriculum should be maintained.

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History (History

    in Stage 4 and Australian History in Stage 5)

  • Geography (Geography

    in Stage 4 and Australian Geography in Stage 5)


Design and Technology,

with at least 50 hours devoted to learning about and using computers


8. Specification of when subjects

need to be studied

The Education Act

requires that English, Mathematics, Science and Human Society and Its

Environment must be studied in each of Years 7 to 10.

The Board requires

that PDHPE should be studied during each of Years 7 to 10, History and

Geography in Stage 4 and Australian History and Australian Geography in

Stage 5. The Board also provides advice on when Visual Arts, Music and

Languages should be studied.


9. Indicative hours

10. Monitoring and reporting

student achievement

School authorities

and schools establish requirements and procedures for reporting student

achievement to students, parents and to other teachers.

To give schools the

tools they need to report to their communities in consistent ways, the

standards framework will assist with the communication of information

about student achievement at the Year 6 / Year 7 and the Year 10 / Year

11 transition points. While the content standards described in syllabuses

provide focus and direction for teaching and learning, performance standards

communicate the standards to which students, teachers, schools and school

systems must aspire, and they provide a common language for reporting.

The Board's standards

framework will provide graded descriptions of the standards to be achieved

at the end of each stage in the form of stage statements written in three

to five levels, or in the form of performance descriptions in Stage 5.

These statements will represent a snapshot of various levels of student

performance as they demonstrate outcomes in integrated and holistic ways.

Advice in syllabuses

will concentrate assessment and recording at least at the strand level

in order to discourage fragmentary or atomised learning.

The Board's syllabuses

and support materials will provide a common language of assessment and

reporting so that schools within and across systems can assign a common

meaning and understanding to terms in the curriculum. This common language

will be accessible to students and parents.




This ESL Resource

Kit is a small collection of the type of resources housed at the Language

and Multicultural Education Resource Centre (LMERC), 150 Palmerston St.


The Kit includes

some of the materials which ESL teachers in primary and secondary schools

and language centres find useful with their newly arrived students. It

is suggested that teachers start with Beginning ESL: support material

for primary new arrivals. This book contains useful suggestions and makes

direct links with the set of books and resources in the kit. Though the

focus of the book is on primary students, secondary teachers should find

the book adaptable for secondary new arrivals.

The loan period for

the kit is 4 weeks for schools in the metropolitan areas and six weeks

for schools in the country areas. Your school is responsible for returning

the kit to the centre by the due date. Please check contents of the kit

before returning. For an extension or further enquires regarding the kit

please contact:

Chris Finch


Pam Luizzi

ESL Project Officers

Language and Multicultural Education Resource Centre

150 Palmerston Street, Carlton, 3053

Tel 9349 2400

Fax 9349 1295

Items included in

the Kit are marked with a tick. (

The "Items Returned" column is provided to help you to tick

off items

when you return them to LMERC.

Appendix 7

Appendix 7 - Setting

up a New Arrivals School, Puckapunyal Victoria is available by contacting


Appendix 1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 28 and

Article 29 General comment on its implementation




Appendix 1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 28 and

Article 29 General comment on its implementation


Appendix 2 WA Curriculum Council Act (1997) and extracts from the Curriculum



WA Schools Education Act (1999)



Appendix 5. The Education Act 1999 (NSW) and K-10 Curriculum Framework



See Appendix 6. Setting up a School. Puckapunyal, Victoria.


WA Department of Education, Curriculum Department, Telephone 08 92644111.


Department of Education Training and Employment, SA, telephone 08 8226250.


See Appendix 6. The Language and Multicultural Education Resource Centre

ESL Resource Kit.


See Appendix 7. Setting up a School. Puckapunyal, Victoria.


The Western English Language School is at 46 South Road Braybrook Victoria

3019. Telephone 03 93119325.


Department of Education Training and Employment, NSW telephone 02 95651800


Updated 9 January 2003.