1078 Children are currently locked up within Australia in Immigration Detention. With the recent amendments to the Migration Act their wellbeing is set to get even worse. The Parliament has not ensured a guardian for the children that will be sent 'offshore' with no-one that can advocate for their needs. There has been no legal safeguards put in place to ensure their safety, and as high school students of the same age we have serious concerns for their wellbeing. They deserve all the rights that we have in line with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. They are not currency, or animals, and we are exploiting their lives for our gain. They have not done anything wrong and as high school students, and people of Australia WE DEMAND BETTER.
- END CHILD DETENTION
- UPHOLD THE UN CONVENTION OF THE RIGHTS OF A CHILD FOR ASYLUM SEEKER CHILDREN SO THEY CAN LIVE AND DEVELOP
- NO OFFSHORE PROCESSING
Dominique Toop, AYCS National Chairperson
17, Year Twelve Student from Perth
Every human being has a worth and dignity beyond the measure of money. This includes children seeking refuge in our country through ‘regional’ offshore processing as well as those already living here.
At the Australian Young Christian Students’ National Conference 2012 , high school students from around the country identified that the treatment of ‘asylum seekers and refugees’ was a prominent issue that the students had reflected and taken action on in their communities.
Through intense review, it was recognised that public opinion of youth refugees and asylum seekers can often be misinformed and contribute to the continuous negative cycle of media and government promoting the issue in a way that takes away from recognising the value of each person.
The effect of this cycle influences the way Australia treats asylum seeker and refugee children.
Although the Australian Government has signed the UN Convention of the Rights of a child, the relevant rights are not being upheld in relation to child refugees and asylum seekers. As high school students of the same age, it is essential to be in solidarity with these young people, especially because they are fleeing persecution.
We agree and support the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child that Australia has signed. We believe that it should be upheld, especially in the case of youth asylum seekers and refugees. In alignment with the CRC, we believe that all children (defined as being under the age of 18) are entitled to these rights. Help from the government needs to be given to children who are seeking asylum and all children need to be educated on their rights. From reviewing and analysing the causes, consequences and future alternatives of the issue we request that the Parliament:
1. End child immigration detention through alternative community systems
We recognise the agreements made according to the CRC. As stated in Article 37, Section b of this convention, children should never be deprived of their liberty. This includes the statement that detention is only to be used as a “measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”3 The proposal that they may only be detained as a last resort allows for debate as to what exactly classifies a “last resort”. We believe that as a wealthy first world nation with an abundance of resources there is no circumstance under which a child should be restricted of their liberty.
There is no reason any child should be detained and deprived of a childhood, either here in Australia, or in regional ‘offshore’ processing. Systems in other nations, can serve as an offer of evidence that there are alternate community systems to immigration detention employed elsewhere that are functional and are not depriving the children of their childhood.
2. Ensure that every asylum seeker and refugee child is given the opportunity to have essential childhood development in line with the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child
Childhood is essential to a persons’ identity and development. This includes; right to live and develop healthily, a right to an identity and primary education, a right to receive help to physically and psychologically recover allowing for reintegration into society. They also have rights to relax, play and join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.
As Australian high school students we need you to realise that asylum seeker children are young people just like us and deserve for their rights to be upheld.
Please uphold the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child and end child detention both in Australia and in 'offshore' centres.
Written by the High School Students of the Australian YCS which is a Catholic movement run completely by, for and with high school students. We empower students to take action based on situations that they care about by using the method of 'See, Judge, Act.'