A letter to Mr Luke Donnellan, Victorian Minister for the Protection of Children.

From: June Factor
Sent: Tuesday, August 6, 2019
To: luke.donnellan@parliament.vic.gov.au
Subject: Child Protection

August 6, 2019

Dear Minister Donnellan,

In February 2017, the Victorian Supreme Court made what your government declared ‘a landmark ruling’. The then Victorian Minister for Families and Children noted with considerable satisfaction that the ruling confirmed that the State of Victoria ‘has jurisdiction to intervene when children in immigration detention are in need of protection’. (Media release 20 February 2017)

The media has for some time been reporting on the desperately poor and harmful circumstances that are the daily experience of two very young children (one four years old, one just two) held with their parents by the Commonwealth Government at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) since March 2018. The damage to these children’s health, both physical and mental, is illustrated by but not limited to the most recent tragedy requiring the removal of four infant teeth from the younger child because they had rotted during detention. This toddler was in great pain and unable to eat properly for months before the long delayed dental intervention. Both children have vitamin deficiencies and exhibit clear behavioural distress as a direct consequence of their lengthy detention.

I am the convenor of Befriend a Child in Detention, a community project that began in 2013, is centred in Melbourne, and has thousands of supporters in this State and across the country. We cannot understand why the Victorian Government has not already removed this small family from the environment that is so seriously damaging the children. The Victorian Commissioner for Children and Young People was reported in Friday’s media as deeply distressed at the situation of the two children held in MITA, and opposed to the detention of children. We share her distress and her opposition to the detention of children, but such words need to lead to deeds. Victoria has the legal right, and we believe the moral obligation, to rescue these children immediately. 

Dear Minister, we depend on you to save the children and the good name of the Victorian Government. This is a clear matter of harm reduction – these children are in urgent need of your protection. 

If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Sincerely

Dr June Factor

Convenor, Befriend a Child in Detention Project 

P.O. Box 1282, Elgin St, Carlton 3053

project@befriendachild.com

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