Thursday, November 22, 2012

AUSTRALIA : CHILDREN NEED A VOICE OF HOPE

ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE

Children are voiceless unless we raise ours for them

Wednesday 21 November 2012
THERE is a resounding silence surrounding the issue of child detention in Australia. It is grim reality which seriously calls into question Australia’s dedication to acting in the best interests of children.

There are currently more than 1,300 children detained in Australia, with an alarming 664 housed in detention facilities. This figure has been successfully kept under wraps from the Australian public until now.

In 1990 Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which specifies in Article 3, “In all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

More recently in 2008 the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, committed Australia to a policy known as “New Directions in Detention’ which stated that “Children and, where possible, their families, will not be detained in an immigration detention centre.”

In response to government inaction, organisations across Australia have joined forces to create the Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children.

The Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children (ACEIDC) petition calling on the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to take action on this issue has received almost 2,000 signatures from the Australian public since the posting of the petition on change.org.

In addition to the many signatures the Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children has received, numerous strong messages have been posted online, indicating t that this is a serious issue that resonates across Australia.

A Brisbane resident said “Depriving a child of their liberty and childhood by detaining them indefinitely is systemic child abuse by our Government. Children should be given the opportunity to be children, no matter what their situation.”

A Sydney woman explained her decision to sign the petition saying, “Policies implemented affecting children should always be in the 'best interests of the child'. Arbitrary detention of children is psychologically damaging and in breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The psychological impacts of detention on children’s health have also been raised by psychiatrist Dr Madelyn Hicks at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Substantial evidence shows that detention, even for short periods, can seriously damage the mental health and development of children – from infancy through teenage years,” Dr Madelyn Hicks said.

The Australian Coalition is gaining support with 6 organisations including Catholic Mission, Chilout, Uniting Justice, Young Christian Students and Catholic Religious Australia already united and standing in solidarity for the voiceless children detained across our country.
SHARED FROM ARCHDIOCESE

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