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RightsED: Child rights - Activity sheet - A last resort

Child rights


Activity sheet: A last resort

The aim of this activity is to introduce students to the issues that faced
children who were kept in Australian Immigration Detention Centres prior to the
policy change in 2005.

Note: In June 2005 the Migration Act was amended so that children
and their families could only be detained in immigration detention centres
‘as a measure of last resort’. Prior to this, children were
automatically detained in detention centres.

Families and children have since been released from immigration detention
facilities into community-based detention, which means that they can live in the
community and participate in education and community life. For shorter periods
of time, children and their families may be placed in residential housing
centres or alternative detention arrangements.

For current Government policy refer students to

1. Read the following case study to students as a listening exercise (or
provide them with the text).

Case study

The year is 2002. Zarah is a 12 year old Iraqi girl being held in one of
Australia’s immigration detention centres. She fled Iraq with her parents
and younger brother because the family had received death threats and were
afraid of political persecution. After a long and dangerous journey, the family
arrived in Australia hoping to be accepted as refugees and to begin a new life.
However, under previous Australian Government immigration policy, they were
placed in an immigration detention centre while their application for refugee
status was processed and finalised. Zarah and her family were in detention for
almost 18 months.

2. Discussion questions:

  • Who had the responsibility to protect Zarah’s rights while she was
    held in immigration detention?
  • What do you think Zarah might list as her top three rights?
  • Do you think that she would have been able to enjoy those rights? Why or why
  • What impact do you think it would have on Zarah if she can’t enjoy
    those important rights?

3. Have students read through the quotes
included in the Resource sheet: A last resort.

These interviews were part of the
Commission’s 2003 National
Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention

4. Ask students to examine each quote and identify:

  • the right(s) that have been denied to the young person
  • the action that should have been taken to ensure that
    their rights were protected
  • the groups that might have been involved in protecting those

A grid is included with the Worksheet: A last resort to
assist students to record their answers.

Additional research questions based on the National Inquiry could

  • When did Australia change its policy on children in detention?
  • What was the reason for changing the policy on children in detention?
  • What happens to children arriving in Australia illegally today?
  • What groups were involved in lobbying to protect children’s rights in
    detention centres?
  • How did the Australian Human Rights Commission gather material about
    children in immigration detention?
  • What groups spoke to the Commission about children in immigration
  • To what extent was Australia upholding its obligations under the Convention
    on the Rights of the Child before the change in policy in 2005?

further information see the Summary Guide to A Last Resort at: