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October 16, 2010


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release, 16 October 2010

Refugee groups have welcomed statements from the Immigration Minister that asylum seekers’ families and children are to be released from immigration detention.

“The announcement gives the lie to constant statements by the Rudd and Gillard governments that children were not in detention centres. Children have been in detention since Christmas Island was opened. Alternative Places of Detention (APODs) is a term of convenience; they always were detention centres,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We still need to see more detail about this proposal. Releasing children and families will only take us back to the administrative arrangements that existed under the later years of the Howard government. We need an absolute commitment that keeping families and children out of detention will be enshrined in law. The Greens should push ahead with their bill in the parliament. It must rule out any community detention arrangements and ensure that those released have work rights,” said Rintoul.

“But this can only be the first step in completely dismantling mandatory detention and offshore processing. In mid-2008 Immigration Minister Chris Evans declared that detention was a last resort. That was a cruel lie. Detention remains a first resort for asylum seekers arriving by boat. The mental illness factories are still in place.

“Thousands are still behind razor wire and there are hundreds of asylum seekers still languishing for months in detention, waiting for security clearances, after being found to be refugees in need of protection. The growing instances of self-harm in Christmas Island, Villawood, Darwin are a direct consequence of mandatory detention.

“Nor will there be relief for those families and others being rejected under the discriminatory offshore determination process. A humanitarian policy demands an end to mandatory detention and an end to offshore processing.

“The Australian government is still funding the detention of families and children in Indonesia.

“We also await with interest for the Labor government’s explanation of why it chose to keep its pre-election negotiations with welfare groups to release asylum seekers’ families a secret. We hope this is the beginning of Labor putting humanitarian policy at the top of its agenda and ending its race to the bottom with the Coalition over which party is toughest on refugees.”

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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