The Immigration Department's figures showing 528 children are being held in immigration detention across the country, giving 528 reasons why the rules need to be changed so children are not simply incarcerated as a matter of course the Greens said today.
"We have 528 reasons why Minister Bowen has a conflict of interest for their welfare. In 2010 he said the government would move children out of detention, but because the Government hasn't fixed the law locking children up is still legal and Government continues to do it every day" Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.
"The minister continues to have a conflict of interest by being the legal guardian in charge of their welfare as well as deciding on their visa status or how long they are locked in detention. These children must have an independent advocate to look out for their welfare.
"Some 4,783 people are in locked in immigration detention facilities as of the end of January. The department figures don't show how many are unaccompanied children.
"One third of people have been detained for more than 12 months. Unless they are moved out urgently, over the next few months we will risk seeing an increase of people risk harming themselves as their mental health deteriorates.
"I am astounded that more than 170 detainees have been languishing in detention centres for over two years. Some 2,047 people have waited a year or longer.
"We risk damaging more asylum seekers when this can be prevented by letting them live in the community, after initial health and security checks are done, while their claims for protection are assessed.
"Australian taxpayers want to see better value for money than the $1 billion they are spending on Serco's contract to run detention centres."