Over a dozen people from Baptistcare protested about the ongoing incarceration of more than 1000 children. They join thousands of citizens around Australia who are calling for the immediate release of the children in immigration detention centres. This continuing incarceration brings us great shame!
The Australian Human Rights Commission (HRC) is conducting an inquiry into the circumstances of children being held in Australia’s immigration detention centres; this is the second time in a decade that the HRC has examined the issue.
The previous inquiry reported that immigration detention centres are ”traumatising places” and children held inside these compounds endure ”enormous mental distress”. It warned that putting children into detention should only ever be ”a measure of last resort”, and it criticised the strategy of detaining children in order to deter others from coming to Australia. Now 10 years later, Australia holds over a 1000 children in immigration detention centres.
It seems that some still believe the importance of stopping boats makes it ‘worth it’ to keep children in detention centres. This illogical.
The children currently held in detention matter just as much as the children did a decade ago. In 2004, when the HRC in called on the government to release the children, the Howard government’s response was the same shameful mantra as that of the Abbott government’s – that releasing children ”is a very dangerous message to send to people smugglers”. However, back then a year later a group of concerned Liberal politicians managed to convince Howard to release those children from detention.
How we treat children is how we will be judged historically. In recent years we have witnessed the apology to the Stolen Generation, and, the apology to child migrants. I believe that within 30 years we will probably see a formal apology to those children we have held in detention.
We must release the children now.