UNICEF Australia welcomes the reports that there are no longer children in held detention facilities on mainland Australia.
Understanding that detention causes serious harm to children and families, we commend Minister Dutton’s efforts to end the detention of children in those facilities. UNICEF Australia is encouraged that children will have greater opportunity to rebuild their lives in a community setting with an opportunity to develop lasting friendships, engage in their education, and participate in community life.
In order to maintain the positive record that has been achieved by the Minister, UNICEF Australia encourages the Australian Government to consider the following:
- End arbitrary and indefinite detention as a first response to asylum seekers
- Detain children strictly as a last resort measure
- Legislate a 90-day maximum period of detention for children.
UNICEF Australia remains seriously concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the fifty children who remain in open detention on Nauru. We encourage the Australian Government to find viable resettlement options for those children and their families as a priority.
UNICEF Australia stresses the critical importance of preventing a repeat of our policy past where vulnerable children, once again, may be held in immigration detention on mainland Australia indefinitely. We note the recent success of the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime in Bali on 23 March 2016. UNICEF Australia encourages the Australian Government to increase its investment in regional protection so that asylum seekers have viable options including access to health, education and working rights, minimizing the need for dangerous journeys by land or sea.