For well over a decade, Australia has had a policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers who attempt to reach our shores. This includes locking up thousands of children who are fleeing persecution, violence, discrimination and war, often through perilous boat journeys across South–East Asia.
This isn’t a problem that starts at our borders, nor does it end with stopping the boats. We know no single country can tackle this crisis on its own. The only way to help children seeking asylum is to ensure they have a safe passage from harm.
We need to do so much more
Children and families seeking asylum need to have their claims processed quickly and effectively. They need access to basic services while waiting to hear whether they’ve been assessed as being refugees. Parents need legal status to be able to work and put food on the table, and children need protection especially when they’ve been separated from their families. They also need a place to go once they’ve been identified as refugees, where they can live a life free from constant fear of persecution.
Above all, we know that the policy of mandatory, prolonged immigration detention threatens the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and their families. For every day children remain in these immigration centres, Australia is not only neglecting international obligations to act in the best interests of children, but we are failing our moral obligation as a wealthy, prosperous nation that values a fair go for all.
Sadly, this issue is one that has been a political football for years, kicked back and forth across the aisles of parliament by successive governments in an unrelenting game where the losers continue to be the children.
Every day, more and more Australians are standing up and demanding change. Not content with secretive operations happening out of view, we’re fighting to ensure what is being done in our name is humane and in the best interests of children in need.
Will you add your voice and join the movement?