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A last resort? - Summary Guide: About the Inquiry

A Last Resort? - SUMMARY GUIDE. A Summary of the important issues, findings and recommendations of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

A last resort?

National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

About the Inquiry

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was

established in 1986. It is an independent statutory organisation and reports

to the federal Parliament through the Attorney-General.

The Commission's goal is to foster greater understanding

and protection of human rights in Australia and to address the human rights

issues facing a broad range of individuals and groups.

When the Commission was established it was given a responsibility

to advise the Commonwealth Government on Australia's commitments under

international laws and whether these are reflected in Commonwealth laws,

policies and practices.

In November 2001, the Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Sev Ozdowski,

announced that the Commission would hold a National Inquiry into Children

in Immigration Detention.

Why did we hold an Inquiry?

Since 1992, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without

a visa - both adults and children - have been subject to mandatory detention.

In all but a few rare cases, their detention ends only when they are recognised

as refugees and granted a protection visa or when they are removed from

the country.

From 1999 the number of children in detention rose significantly

and there was widespread concern about their treatment.

The Inquiry was established to examine whether the

laws requiring the detention of children and the treatment of children

in immigration detention met Australia's obligations under international

law, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Image: Drawing of a boat of children seeking asylum in Australia,by a child in immigration detention.

Drawing of a boat of children seeking asylum in


by a child in immigration detention

What did the Inquiry look at?

First, the Inquiry considered whether Australia's detention

laws complied with international law and looked at alternatives to placing

children in immigration detention centres.

The Inquiry also looked at the treatment of child asylum

seekers held in immigration detention centres between 1999 and 2002. In

particular, it examined:

  • the safety and security of children in detention
  • the effect of detention on children's mental and physical


  • whether children in detention received an appropriate education
  • the care available to children with a disability in detention
  • the opportunity for children in detention to enjoy recreation

    and play

  • the care of unaccompanied children in detention
  • children's ability to practice their religion and culture

    in detention.

Finally, the Inquiry considered the needs of child asylum

seekers and refugees living in the community after being released from