01 March 2011

Australian Immigration department moving asylum children into community

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The Australian Immigration Minister has updated the House on the implementation of the Government’s promise to move the majority of children and vulnerable family groups out of immigration detention facilities and into community-based accommodation by June this year.

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The Australia Immigration department is moving towards placing refugee children and families into the community.

The Australia Immigration  Minister, Chris Bowen, said the Government will meet their promise and through to the end of June, there will be carefully managed movement of several hundred people into residential arrangements.

“Since October, my department has been managing the expansion of the community detention program, with my advisory Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution (CISSR) working closely with them to support this process. I want to thank the Chair of the Council, Mr Paris Aristotle, and the other members of the council for their invaluable assistance as we implement what is an ambitious program,” Mr Bowen said.

“I’d also like to thank the Australian Red Cross and Life Without Barriers who have been working intensively with the government to source suitable accommodation for the minors and families released into the community, as well as appropriate carers and case managers, particularly for unaccompanied minors.”

Since the announcement in October, 268 people have been approved for release into the community while their application for Australia Visa as an asylum seeker is processed.

This includes almost all of the male unaccompanied minors who are under 15 years old and all but one recently arrived female unaccompanied minor.

The focus at this stage is on the youngest unaccompanied minors and families with young children, single parent families, families with pregnant women and other particularly vulnerable families. The priority will extend to older unaccompanied minors and other family groups as the first stage is completed.

“It is well known that I believe, and the government believes, there needs to be an international solution to break the people smugglers business model. But while children’s refugee claims are being processed in Australia, they should be treated with care,” Mr Bowen said.

“Regardless of whether they are recognised as genuine refugees or returned to their homeland after consideration of their claims, they should be given the chance to learn and grow while they are here. In this vein, I call on the Opposition to support the removal of children from detention facilities – something they have not done since this decision was announced on 18 October.”


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