For around 9 months a seven-year old girl; along with 24 other unaccompanied children; have been locked in detention facilities. Their young and fragile lives are now experiencing their third detention centre in the past 9 months.
These children are starved of their basic human rights and now increasingly showing signs of mental health issues. None of these children can see light at the end of the tunnel of this process and this is quite simply unacceptable. Could you envision your young child, nephew, niece, grandchild or any other little person in your world locked away without loved ones and deprived of the very things that all children should have? It seems ridiculous that this could happen. It is ridiculous.
Why are children needing to be locked up at all? What threat do they pose to anyone? How on Earth is our Government not doing everything in their power to investigate alternate and more humane methods to process these children!!!?? Instead secrecy surrounds much of the process regarding children in detention and the few and far between updates to the us, the public, seem a small blip on a large and pitiful radar. I would love to know what Chris Bowen would do should a child of his be locked up in a similar situation?!
No matter who you are, how can you say that what is happening is OK? When is it ever acceptable to lock up a small child?!
As an educated, professional, middle-class, born and raised Australian citizen; I sit within the bell curve in our country. I know all kinds of people; those who feel passionately about what is happening to asylum seekers coming to and being processed in Australia, those who know and don't care, many who think they "deserve what they get" and others who are indifferent altogether. I know you. I listen to it all and I feel strongly that most people in Australia want for good even if they do not have the faintest idea how to get there.
It is beyond simple. Care. Listen. Learn. Say what you feel and fight for it. I am no different to anyone else and yet what happens in this country that I mostly feel so proud to be part of, is deeply shaming me in this respect. How dare our Government lock up children unaccompanied and ignore their responsibilites to provide under the Convention on the Rights of the Child! How is this even possible when indefinitely detaining children is in complete contravention of international law!!
There are options for these children to be processed that enables them to have their human rights protected and for them to live life within our community during the asylum seeker process. I dare say 9 months is a reasonable timeframe to find suitable community detention possibilities for children; even for our bureaucratic system. Many wise and educated groups have studied the possibilities and made proposals; these people and organisations can spend their lives ensuring their recommendations are feasible and acceptable for the Australian Government, our country and asylum seekers alike. That is precisely the point; we are alike. Each of us and how I wish that this could be remembered and recalled upon at times like this. Or rather how I wish there never was a time like this!
Bottom line - there is a solution and this is not it. Try something else Mr Bowen and how about you start with releasing this 7-year old unaccompanied little girl as well as the 23 children alongside her into community detention immediately.
Image courtesy of ChilOut, drawn by a child in detention.