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Release children into community and end Immigration Minister’s conflict of interest

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 7 Feb 2012

The Gillard government must make it a priority to move asylum seeker children and fragile families into the community, Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

"In October 2010 Minister Bowen said the government would move most children and vulnerable families out of detention, because their incarceration was harming their mental health and development," Sen. Hanson-Young said.

"This must be hastened this year because we know this damage is preventable by letting people live in the community after initial health and security checks are done.

"We are particularly concerned by reports children, including some in Darwin as young as seven, are being moved around the country when they should not be in any detention centre.

"So far, fewer than 200 people have received bridging visas and been moved out of detention since November last year, despite the minister saying up to 100 a month could be granted visas.

"The government must also end the Immigration Minister's conflict of interest where he decides on a child's visa as well as being the legal guardian responsible for their wellbeing. Australia needs an independent advocate to ensure the best interest of the child and look out for their welfare.

"The Greens want 30-day limits on detention because all the experts and the evidence say the trauma of being detained is reduced if people know they are not going to be locked up indefinitely, as is happening now."


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