Law Council: Government must heed warning of doctors and release children from immigration detention
The Law Council of Australia is once again calling on the Federal Government to immediately take steps to release all children from immigration detention centres. The call follows a stance taken by Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital doctors who say it is almost impossible to effectively treat children who remain detained.
The Law Council has long held the position that immigration detention is no place for children, and that alternatives can and must be pursued. The Law Council is today backing the Australian Medical Association’s call for all children being held in immigration detention centres to be immediately released to a safe environment.
Law Council Executive Member Mr Morry Bailes said the clinical opinion of doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital was disturbing and should be heeded by Government.
“Keeping children in detention will lead to increased physical and mental harm – that’s simply a fact,” Mr Bailes said.
“Detention of children should be only for a period that is strictly necessary to conduct health, identity and security checks.
“While it is good that the number of children in detention has been decreasing, almost 200 children remain in detention.
“The Law Council has long argued that sensible, practical responses could be implemented to minimise the risk to children. This includes legislative reforms establishing an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia.
“An independent guardian would mean Australia is in a better position to process children quickly, moving them out of detention wherever possible. Australia could also stop sending children offshore and beyond the reach of our own standards of detention. Children can be placed into community facilities where they can have a more normal child’s life.
“The Federal Government should act without delay to remove all children from immigration detention,” Mr Bailes concluded.