News Articles

Below you will find news relevant to children in detention and the Befriend a Child in Detention project. Each news piece is dated with a month and year of publication and a link to the original news article.


Events: Palm Sunday, Walk for Justice for Refugees
03.2017 
The Befriend a Child in Detention project will once again be joining the Palm Sunday, Walk for Justice for Refugee’s walk in Melbourne. We would love you to join us.
Sunday 9 April, 2pm at the State Library of Victoria.
The Befriend a Child in Detention team will be meeting outside Mr Tulk cafe at 1:45pm.
We will be holding a Befriend a Child banner and giving out postcards and flyers. If you spot us please introduce yourself and join our walking team.
More details can be found on the event Facebook page.
Please see flyers below for details of rallies in other states:


News: Drawings reveal the struggles and triumphs of child refugees in their first six months of high school

03.2017

Pictures tell 1000 words. Amanda Hiorth has been researching the experiences of refugee teenages in highschool. She writes: “Pictures have been found to be a powerful data source for vulnerable young people, providing them with an alternative to express their voice and conceptualise their thoughts without the need for language.”

Read the article here


Take Action: Donate to keep asylum seeker legal support clinics open
03.2017

The Brisbane Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support Network (BRASS) are asking for your help. BRASS are raising money to keep RAILS (Refugee & Immigration Legal Service Inc) and Salvos Humanitarian Clinics open past the 30th June. There are only 2 clinics in the whole of Queensland that operate to support asylum seekers in filling out their immigration applications, and they are struggling to remain open.

These clinics offer such valuable support to asylum seekers that need to fill out a 60 pages report (only in English) detailing their past exposure to war, torture or persecution. With the legal and language aid, this gives asylum seekers a radically better chance at stating their case and finding safety.

These clinics are primarily run by volunteers, but funds are still necessary:
$110 will provide an hour of support
$836 will keep a clinic going for a day
$4180 will fund a clinic for a week
Breaking it down this covers: supervising lawyers, paralegal support, interpreting charges and application costs.

If you can help please follow this link to donate.

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Take Action: GetUp! Petition to help Zaharah* save her dad
03.2017 
Next week, Zaharah* will go to Canberra – to meet with politicians and beg them to bring her dad here, and allow her family to be reunited.
Zaharah, her mother, and her siblings all live in Sydney. Her dad has been held on Manus Island for nearly four years.
As Peter Dutton hides behind the Trump resettlement deal – he’s said nothing about the future of split families like Zaharah’s. This could be her last chance to bring her family together, here in Australia.
So Zaharah is going to Canberra, to tell her family’s story. And we can make sure she isn’t going alone.
Thousands of GetUp members have already signed the #SafetyForAll petition, calling on the government to provide safety for everyone held on Manus and Nauru – and that means reuniting families in Australia.
Sign the petition now, so that Zaharah can show politicians how many voters support her family?

Events: Film: ‘Cast from the Storm’
03.2017 
In ‘Cast from the Storm’ a group of teenage refugees share their extraordinary stories when they join an after-school theatre group.
Book tickets here
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News: The Monthly, It’s time to rethink the asylum seeker policy
03.2017 

Robert Manne shares his perspective on the asylum seeker debate, arguing there is a way to save those imprisoned on Nauru.

Read the article here
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News: The Guardian, Dengue fever outbreak on Nauru threatens health system
02.2017 

“Nauru and Australian immigration officials have called a crisis meeting as a major dengue fever outbreak threatens to overwhelm the Pacific island nation’s public health system…there are now at least 70 known cases of dengue on Nauru, including at least 10 asylum seekers and refugees held on the island by Australia.”

Read the full story here
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News: The Guardian, Women of Nauru: Seeing my sons in a school uniform is my only dream
02.2017 

Stories from mothers living on Nauru:

“My memories in Nauru are eating away at my soul like leprosy. I feel I am devalued and humiliated…I can’t get used to this nightmare.”
“Due to stress, my eight-year-old son has been losing his hair, little by little, in circle-shaped patches usually about the size of a coin. I’ve attempted self-harm three times. I can’t tolerate the fact that I am not able to save my children and give them hope anymore.”
“I feel like the Australian government utilises all of their tools to make us soulless and numb. They have normalised our deprivation, fatality and death.”
Read more here
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BCD: Befriend a Child in Detention joins over 100 organisations in calling for an end to offshore processing
02.2017 
“Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly Australia’s responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken…”

News: ‘Worse than death’ Nauru: A mother’s story
02.2017 

Reading the stories of refugees reminds us that they are just like us, and are doing exactly what we would do in a time of crisis. Sarah Smith shares the story of a woman currently imprisoned on Nauru: “Marie and her husband had two choices: stay, and face torture and execution, leaving their children without parents and with no prospects for employment or education, or to flee with their children to another country. She did what I, or any mother, would do — she took her children and ran for her life.”

Read more here
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News: America’s loss will be our gain
02.2017 

Arnold Zable writes: “It is time to end the nightmare. Evacuate the camps, and just bring them here. There is nowhere else to go. America’s loss, will be our significant gain.”

Read more here

News: The Monthly, It’s time to rethink the asylum seeker policy
03.2017 

Robert Manne shares his perspective on the asylum seeker debate, arguing there is a way to save those imprisoned on Nauru.

Read the article here
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News: The Guardian, Dengue fever outbreak on Nauru threatens health system
02.2017 

“Nauru and Australian immigration officials have called a crisis meeting as a major dengue fever outbreak threatens to overwhelm the Pacific island nation’s public health system…there are now at least 70 known cases of dengue on Nauru, including at least 10 asylum seekers and refugees held on the island by Australia.”

Read the full story here
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News: The Guardian, Women of Nauru: Seeing my sons in a school uniform is my only dream
02.2017 

Stories from mothers living on Nauru:

“My memories in Nauru are eating away at my soul like leprosy. I feel I am devalued and humiliated…I can’t get used to this nightmare.”
“Due to stress, my eight-year-old son has been losing his hair, little by little, in circle-shaped patches usually about the size of a coin. I’ve attempted self-harm three times. I can’t tolerate the fact that I am not able to save my children and give them hope anymore.”
“I feel like the Australian government utilises all of their tools to make us soulless and numb. They have normalised our deprivation, fatality and death.”
Read more here
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BCD: Befriend a Child in Detention joins over 100 organisations in calling for an end to offshore processing
02.2017 

“Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly Australia’s responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken…”


News: Worse than death’ Nauru: A mother’s story
02.2017 

Reading the stories of refugees reminds us that they are just like us, and are doing exactly what we would do in a time of crisis. Sarah Smith shares the story of a woman currently imprisoned on Nauru: “Marie and her husband had two choices: stay, and face torture and execution, leaving their children without parents and with no prospects for employment or education, or to flee with their children to another country. She did what I, or any mother, would do — she took her children and ran for her life.”

Read more here
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News: America’s loss will be our gain
02.2017 

Arnold Zable writes: “It is time to end the nightmare. Evacuate the camps, and just bring them here. There is nowhere else to go. America’s loss, will be our significant gain.”

Read more here

News: Nayser’s three years stuck on Manus
01.2017 

Families have been indefinitely divided by Australia’s unjustifiably harsh and inhumane asylum policies.


News: The Guardian, Missing documents, unskilled staff, poor value for money: Auditor-General lashes immigration detention
01.2017 (first published 09.2016)
Overspending on immigration detention has been revealed through an audit taken place in September 2016. 
Overseas immigration detention has cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars a year for each asylum seeker.
Read the full article here.

News: Bring them here: Gillian Triggs’ plea to Malcolm Turnbull on asylum seekers
01.2017 
Professor Triggs said: “Because no other solutions have been found, clearly those on Nauru and Manus must be brought to Australia. They’ve been held for years, many of them. It’s indefinite detention with no solution and I see no other alternative at the moment to bringing them to Australia and integrating them.”Read the full article here.

Support Befriend a Child in Detention: Buy Anja & Zlatna ‘Live in Concert’ DVD
01.2017
Ensemble Anja & Zlatna is known for its beautiful melodic lines and complex rhythms from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and beyond. The ensemble’s unique sound comes from the unusual blend of flute, bass, percussion, uilleann pipes, mouth harp, harpsichord and voices.
Anja & Zlatna have just released their ‘Live in Concert’ DVD and are donating all the proceeds from their DVD sales to the Befriend a Child in Detention Project. 
Buy the DVD by following this link: https://form.jotform.co/befriendachild/anja-zlatna-dvd

Events: Refugee Film Festival: The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe
01.2017
On 19th January 2017 the Refugee Council of Australia will be hosting a screening of The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe. 
A portrait of four African refugee women who turned their harrowing stories of survival into a joyous theatre production.
You can buy tickets by following this link
Watch the trailer here:

News: June Factor – local hero
11.2016
June Factor, the Convenor of the Befriend a Child in Detention project has been nominated for The Weekly Review’s local heroes award. Please follow this link to vote for June, voting closes 27 November 2016. 

Events: Humanitarian Concert: Anja & Zlatna
11.2016

Last night we had the pleasure of enjoying beautiful music by Anja & Zlatna. Anja, Kirsty and the wonderful band members that make up this amazing ensemble generously donated their time and raised $1030 for the Befriend a Child in Detention project. Thanks to everyone for coming, it was a truly wonderful concert for children in immigration detention.


Resources: Universal Children’s Day

10.2016

This week Australia celebrates Universal Children’s Week. With this day in mind the Befriend a Child in Detention team have created lesson plans, fact sheets and other resources to help teach and parents teach their children about the experiences of refugee and asylum seeker children, who may be unable to celebrate this day as they should.

Find more resources here


News: Books and letters have arrived on Nauru!
10.2016
Our books and letters arrived in Nauru last week! A big thank you to We Care Nauru for coordinating the delivery and to Reza for distributing our books and letters to children on Nauru.


Media: Amnesty International, Island of Despair
10.2016
Last week Amnesty International released their report Island of Despair in which the revealed that the conditions on Nauru amount to torture. In this report they state: The Australian Government is choosing to subject women, men and children to an elaborate and cruel system of abuse with a policy that is intentionally designed to harm people.
Read the report here
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Media: The Age, Manus and Nauru detention centres are like England’s prison hulks in the Thames
10.2016

Martin Flanagan writes: We see government ministers saying they have to enact the law to the letter or anarchy will prevail, we see most of the citizenry not affected by the crisis paying little heed, we see the odd brave individual standing up. It is in this sense that Nauru and Manus Island are the rotting hulks of our day and, as a Tasmanian, let me say that it is how they will be remembered.

Read the article here
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Media release: National Council of Churches Australia
10.2016
The National Council of Churches Australia have issued a media release asking for cooperation to settle the asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Islands. The Media release states: The continuing reports out of both places are a source of deep concern. 
Letters have been sent to both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to encourage them to join in discussions with faith leaders and Church organisations. These organisations have significant resources in overseas aid and domestic welfare which they can bring to the task of settling these displaced people.
Read the media release here

For Media Contact Bishop Philip Huggins 0418 799 515

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Media: The Saturday Paper: Culture war in offshore detention
10.2016
An interesting read by Martin Mackenzie-Murray: “The response to Four Corners’ Nauru report underscores a shift in the immigration debate from human lives to media bias”.
Read the article here
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Media: Lateline: interview with Anna Neistat from Amnesty International
10.2016
Last week Amnesty International released a report declaring the Australian government’ responsibility for conditions on Nauru that amount to torture. Lateline interviewed Anna Neistat, a key researcher on this report. You can watch this episode on iview by following this link.
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Media: Four Corners, The Forgotten Children
10.2016

Last week’s episode Four Corners ‘The Forgotten Children’ told the story of the 193 children currently on Nauru. You can watch it on iview now by following this link.

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News, Radio Show and Article: RNZ: Australian Detention Atrocity Exposed on Nauru
10.2016

In this New Zealand radio interview Dr Nina Zimmerman discusses atrocity that she has witnessed on Nauru. She stated: “Seeing their parents in states of depression, engaging in acts of self harm and suicide. The children are following suit.” 

Listen to the interview or read the article here
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News: Inside Story: How Many Migrants Come to Australia Each Year?
10.2016

Were you confused by last week’s debate on Q&A regarding the number of migrants Australia takes in each year? This article clears up some of the statistics around permanent and temporary migration, while one thing remains clear: Australia is a rich, prosperous nation, that could be supporting thousands more humanitarian entrants than we currently are.


News: Four Corners: The Forgotten Children
10.2016
There are 193 refugee and asylum seeker children currently living on Nauru. This week’s episode of Four Corners tells their stories. Tune into Four Corners Monday at 8:30 on ABC to hear their stories or catch up on iview
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Events: Humanitarian Concert: Music Without Borders

10.2016
Everyone is invited to the next Humanitarian Concert: Music Without Borders, to be held at the Church of All Nations in Carlton.
All proceeds go to Befriend a Child in Detention. 
Anja and Zlatna will be playing beautiful Macedonian music. 
Tickets: Entry by donation
For more information email: project@befriendachild.com
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Educational Resource: AHRC New interactive website introduces students to human rights
10.2016
The Australian Human Rights Commission has launched an interactive website to give school students a foundation in international human rights.
“Through challenging and thought-provoking activities, the website introduces Year 5 and Year 6 students to the concept of human rights and explores the important relationship between fundamental rights and personal responsibilities.”
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Read more about the website here.
Visit the website here

BCD: New Messages to Refugees and Asylum Seekers

10.2016
Children from Stand Up Australia have written messages of support to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia and on Nauru. These can be viewed in our Messages of Support album.
To send a message of your own, or to reply to one of these messages please follow this link

BCD: New program: Universal Children’s Day (week: Saturday 22 – Sunday 30 October 2016)
10.2016
Universal Children’s Day is coming up in October! ucdimage
Universal Children’s Day is an opportunity to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: to raise awareness of the rights of all children to protection, wellbeing, and an environment in which they feel safe and secure enough to freely play and learn.
The Befriend a Child in Detention Project has created useful lesson plans and resources to help schools celebrate and learn about Universal Children’s Day and the situation of refugee and asylum seeker children around the world.

News: Huffington Post, A Better World for Refugees
09.2016
The UN Summit on 19 of September 2016 instituted the The New York Declaration. This declaration contains bold commitments both to address the issues we face now and to prepare the world for future challenges, and concrete plans for how to build on these commitments. This declaration has the potential to create concrete change on a global scale, and a better world for refugees.
Read the full article here

News: The Age, Australia’s badge of honour is really a badge of shame
09.2016
Malcom Turnbull has been promoting Australia’s asylum policies as the ‘best in the world’. Michael Gordon writes: “Malcolm Turnbull is right. Australia does have the world’s best border protection policy, if the principal measure of success is that no one gets in without an invitation.” The cost of this policy is shocking abuse of human rights and the denial of international responsibilities to asylum seekers and refugees.
Read the full article here

News: Missing Out, Refugee education in crisis
09.2016
Opportunities to learn diminish greatly when children are forced to flee their homes and as they grow older.
Read more here

News: The Sydney Morning Herald, The extraordinary cost of keeping asylum seekers in detention: over $500,000 each
09.2016
New figures from the Audit Office have revealed that offshore processing costs $573,100 per detainee, per year. To add perspective, it costs less than half that, $200,000 a year, to house a typical onshore prisoner; a mere fraction of that, $72,000 including super, to pay a typical full-time worker, and just $20,700 a year to pay a full pensioner.
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Illustration Joe Benke
Read the full article here

News: The Age, Australia’s Forgotten Detention Centre
09.2016
Fewer than 30 asylum seekers are held there, but they are sprinkled among a detainee population of about 200 that includes those Dutton has accurately dubbed “some of the country’s most hardened criminals”.
Read the full article here

News: The Guardian, Inside Manus: life in detention – a photo essay
09.2016
The Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island is home to more than 800 asylum seekers who live in bleak conditions – fearing for their own safety and facing uncertain futures. Photographer Matthew Abbott visited the island and documented the lives of the refugees and asylum seekers he met, including the aftermath of a brutal attack.
Read the full article here


News: The Conversation,The tragedy of Eaten Fish, theaward-winning cartoonist on Manus Island 
09.2016
Manus Island cartoonist, Eaten Fish, has won the 2016 international award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. After announcing the award Robert Russell stated, “His cartoons will some day be recognised as important, world-class chronicles of the worst human behaviour since the World War II concentration camps.”
Read the full article here.
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News: The Age, Australia’s inhumane offshore detention of asylum seekers must end
09.2016
“One of the most insidious things about our recent governments’ inhumane treatment of people seeking asylum is that the inhumanity is hidden.”
Read the full article here

News: The Guardian, Can we solve the asylum seeker crisis?
09.2016
Highlights from the Guardian workshop and panel on asylum at the 2016 Festival of Dangerous Ideas. With David Marr as host, a panel of experts on international law, domestic policy and global forced migration discussed alternative policy perspectives.
Watch the video here

News: ABC news, Refugee who broke arm on Nauru has suffered loss of movement in his wrist and fingers
09.2016

Children on Nauru are receiving inadequate medical care. A 12-year-old refugee boy suffered a broken arm at the Nauru detention centre after falling off his bike. He underwent surgery, however, was given no post-operative care and has now begun losing movement in his wrist and fingers.

Read the full article here

Facts: Children on Nauru
09.2016

Information provided from an undisclosed source:

There are currently 193 refugee and asylum seeker children on Nauru. Including 20 babies under 12 months old.

The government continues to state that there are 49 children on Nauru. These figures are false. The government is hiding the truth. Secrecy and lies surrounding offshore processing must end. #BringthemhereNOW.

News: Judy Horacek, ‘Terrifying Things’
09.2016

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Cartoon © Judy Horacek 2016, first published in The Age. Reprinted with permission, www.horacek.com.au

News: ABC Big Ideas, Madeline Gleeson discusses offshore processing
09.2016

Is offshore processing working? What is life is like behind the wire on Manus Island and Nauru? Madeline Gleeson discusses offshore processing of asylum seekers on the ABC’s Big Ideas program.

Listen to the interview here

News: The Guardian, Australia criticised over ‘hollow’ promise to resettle 12,000 Syrian refugees
09.2016
One year ago, Australia promised to resettle 12,000 refugees. Since then, Canada has resettled 30,000 people. The US has resettled 10,000. Australia? Only 3,532.
Read the full article here

News: The Age, We must settle the refugees before it’s too late
09.2016
Manus Island: “Causing suffering to complement and reinforce the ‘turn back’ strategy was always morally questionable, but it is now unnecessary.”
Read the full article here

News: Jim Macken: A member since 1947, now I stay quiet about my connection to Labor
09.2016
ALP Life Member Jim Macken writes:
Jurists from every country in the world now look on Australia as a land that denies the most vulnerable people their basic human rights. We have become the South Africa of the 21st century – that country that tortures people, imprisons children, detains people indefinitely for no crime – we are now that country….I would trade in my Doctorate, my Order of Australia, my life membership of the ALP and anything else I have of value tomorrow to free these poor buggars incarcerated on these prison islands.
Read the full article here

News: The Guardian, We can resettle refugees in Australia and it’s not just wishful thinking. This is how
09.2016

Jane McAdam writes: There are many sides to the refugee debate in Australia, but an overarching question is this: how can we create a more sustainable and humane policy that accords with international law? … We could insert a legislative requirement that Australian law must be interpreted in good faith, in accordance with our responsibilities under international refugee law and international human rights law.

Read the full article here

News: The Guardian, Time to shut Nauru and Manus camps, says government’s refugee policy guru
09.2016
Paris Aristotle, who told Julia Gillard to restart offshore processing, says the risk of detainees killing themselves is too high.
Read more here.

Food for thought: The Black Eyed Peas have decided everyone needs to hear ‘Where is the love’ again
09.2016
An emotional, thought provoking, beautiful video by the Black Eyed Peas. Well worth watching.

Response: Wilson Security Pulls Out of Offshore Detention
09.2016

BCD leadership team member Harold Zwier has written the following, thought provoking response in regards to Wilson’s withdrawal from offshore detention:

The news that Wilson Security will withdraw from providing guards to offshore detention centres is welcome news. It is simply not possible to isolate and guard a group of people who have sought protection under the refugee convention that we as a nation wholeheartedly support, without abuse and harm resulting.

While some applaud the policy success of the federal government in stopping asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat, it is a single drop of success in a sea of failure. Successive Governments and Oppositions have avoided trying to genuinely tackle the undoubtedly difficult regional humanitarian issue of people fleeing danger. Instead they have both played political games.

But the single drop of political and policy success comes at the price of the appalling treatment of people whose lives have been damaged physically and mentally as they have been unashamedly used as pawns. And now that policy is coming apart on Manus and Nauru as countries and companies withdraw their support.

Prime Minister Turnbull, policies that recklessly damage peoples’ lives are not part of the mandate you have been given. The crystal clear moral and humanitarian issue of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru needs to be addressed now.


News: Wilson Security Pulls Out of Offshore Detention
09.2016
Get Up writes: “After one solid year of campaigning, Wilson Security just pulled out of offshore detention. They join Broadspectrum, the main companies who run the abusive camps on Nauru and Manus Island, who have committed to abandon their contracts when they run out in 2017. In other words, companies who were previously complicit in our abusive detention regime are running for the door.”
Read more here.

News: Opinion piece in The Age, Thursday 1 September
09.2016
Excerpt: “…spontaneous community-led movements…the snowballing of outrage about the treatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention. And the common message? Tolerance and inclusion, solidarity with the outsider. These campaigns are so powerful, what’s more, because they tap into our commonalities, rather than our differences…increasingly we need to act collectively…”

Event: ASRC Community Action Workshop

08.2016
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre are running a series of Community Action Workshops to be held in communities across Victoria. In these workshops they will share the tools, resources and strategies to have persuasive conversations with family, friends and people in your networks to shift attitudes towards fair and humane policies for people seeking asylum.
Do you feel frustrated when family and friends dismiss or change the subject when you’re trying to talk to them about the Government’s unfair treatment of people seeking asylum? Then this workshop is for you.
See the flyer below for more details.
Register for the event by following this link.
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News: Sydney Morning Herald, article by Michael Gordon
08.2016
Liberal MP Russell Broadbent has highlighted a major flaw in Australia’s so called commitment to saving lives: “It’s one thing to have people die at sea; it’s another to have them die in your arms and be responsible for that”. Read the article here.

News: SBS, Manus Island Detention Centre has cost $2 billion
08.2016
The Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea has reportedly cost Australian taxpayers $1 million per detainee over the past four years. Read the article here.

News: Q&A, Corinne Grant
08.2016
Last week on Q&A a minister claimed there were no ‘systemic issues’ with mandatory detention, Corinne Grant proved him wrong.

News: New Matilda, No Compromise: Refugee Turnbacks are Immoral and Illegal

“We do have solutions, and have had them for years. Asylum seekers must live onshore in the community while their claims are processed and we must vastly increase the resettlement of people whom the UNHCR finds to be refugees in Indonesia. At the moment, that proposal is politically unacceptable”.
Read the article here

News: Dumbo Feather, Feature article on June Factor
08.2016

Dumbo Feather JuneJune Factor, the Convenor of the Befriend a Child in Detention Project was featured in Issue 48 of Dumbo Feather magazine.

This issue included an in depth interview with June, in which she told the story of her life and her passion for helping children in detention. This issue also featured a one page article about the Befriend a Child in Detention project written by June. This is a wonderful story detailing the beginning of the project. You can read it here.


News: Mamamia, Myth-Busting Facts about Refugees
08.2016
Five myths about refugees busted! Share this video with friends, family, colleagues, and anyone who needs clear cut facts.
Watch the video here.

Take Action: Free the Children Nauru, Petition to The House of Representatives
08.2016
The Befriend a Child in Detention team, in partnership with Free the Children Nauru, ask you to join in signing a formal petition to the House of Representatives. The petition is a request for a time frame for refugee resettlement and processing of people seeking asylum and that they are brought to Australia or NZ.
This is not an online petition.
There are many online petitions that are effective and do achieve significant change. However, the Government does not accept online petitions in parliament and Ministers are not obliged to respond to them. To the best of our knowledge there are no current petitions lodged with the House of Representative.
To participate please download the petition by clicking this link, print out multiple copies and start gathering signatures. Signatures must be collected by 12 September 2016.
Once you have collected your signatures please scan them and send them to project@befriendachild.com or freethechildrennauru@gmail.com.
For more details visit the Free the Children Nauru website or Facebook page

Special Congratulations: Fiona Wood has won the Older Readers book award from the Children’s Book Council
08.2016
Fiona Wood has been awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year, Older Readers for her novel Cloudwish

Fiona is a talented woman and a much loved member of the Befriend a Child in Detention team. We would like to congratulate her on this wonderful achievement.

Fiona strongly believes that people seeking asylum in Australia should be treated with respect and compassion. In her speech at the CBCA award ceremony Fiona stated:

…”One of the things I hope that Cloudwish does is to stand as a love letter to the refugee families of Australia who entrust us with their hopes for a new home, and who enrich our society immeasurably. We have, for far too long, been betraying the trust of a number of children and their families currently on Nauru, and I know that I’m not alone in my frustration and despair that the situation is still unresolved.

Thank you to the Vietnamese Australian readers of my manuscript, Thanh Bui, Diem Nguyen, Quynh Nguyen, Lisa Hop Tran and Vicky Tu. Any mistakes are entirely mine, but I could not have written this book without their expertise and generosity. …”


Take Action: Bring Them Here Rally
08.2016
The Befriend a Child in Detention team will be standing up for refugees on Nauru and Manus islands and demanding that the government bring these vulnerable people to Australia. Join us at the Bring Them Here Rally at the State Library in Melbourne CBD on Saturday 27 August 2016 at 1pm. 
To our befrienders in other states, please see details below for rallies in your area.
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Thank you: Thank you to the children at Aurburn Primary School
08.2016
We would like to thank the wonderful children at Auburn Primary School in Melbourne for donating these beautiful, handmade books to be sent off to refugee children on Nauru. Every book has come with a message of friendship, hope and support. These books will be sent off in our next parcel of books and letters to be sent to Nauru, we are very excited to post them.
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News: Crickey, Nauru Files Show Wilson Underreported Incidents
08.2016
Bureaucracy’s role on Nauru: dehumanisation, neglect, suppression, ambiguity, inefficiency, inflexibility… and now, the underreporting of abuse by Wilson security staff trying only to protect themselves.
Read the full article here.

News: The GuardianThe Nauru files provide the evidence. Malcolm Turnbull can never plead ignorance.
08.2016
William Maley writes: “The Nauru files paint a searing picture of the collapse of basic humanity in the detention centre. History is unlikely to be kind to those who endorsed it”.
Read the full article here.

News: The Conversation, Cast adrift: Australia risks its international standing over asylum-seeker policies
08.2016
The world is watching as Australia violates numerous international laws and violates the human rights of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees. 
Read the full article here.

Act Now: Bring Them Here Petition
08.2016
Call on the Australian Government to immediately bring these children women and men we have sent to Nauru to safety in Australia and urge the government to conduct an independent judicial inquiry into each incident to ensure justice is served to all who have suffered in our name.
Sign the petition here.

Act Now: Close the Camps Petition
08.2016
The camps on Nauru and Manus Island are hell-holes.The conditions in these camps are appalling and they are pushing already vulnerable people to self-harm. We want to see the men, women and children who are in need of protection immediately brought back to Australia so they can live in safety.
We must close the camps now and bring the people locked up there to Australia for processing. 
Sign the petition here.

News: The Saturday Paper, Apology Expected
08.2016
“One day, a prime minister will apologise to the people we hurt in offshore detention. One day we will say sorry for the boys and girls whose childhoods we stole, for the parents we drove mad, for the young men and women who tried to kill themselves to halt the unending cruelty of their lives.We will say sorry for the things we knew. We will say sorry and hope that we never again treat people the way we treated refugees. We will talk in hushed voices about the shame of the politics under which we currently live. Ministers like Dutton and Morrison will be named for their barbarism. One day we will say sorry and face up to the racist indifference with which we police our borders. Hopefully that day is not so far away.”
Read the full article here.

News: The Guardian, ‘This is Critical’: 103 Nauru and Manus Staff Speak Out – Their Letter in Full
08.2016
Doctors, teachers, caseworkers, managers and social workers call for the detention centres to be shut down after publication of Nauru files. 
Read the full article here.

News: The Conversation, Houston Report on Asylum Seekers: Did the Panel Listen to the Experts?
08.2016
The Conversation’s asylum seeker expert panel released its own recommendations, tailored to the Houston’s terms of reference and based on the wealth of research evidence on asylum seeker issues.
Read the full article here.

Befriend a Child in Detention: Greeting Cards Available for Purchase

08.2016
card scattered

Gabi Wang has created beautiful greeting cards that are available for you to purchase online.

Proceeds from card sales go to the Befriend a Child in Detention project to fund various programs, including sending books, letters and other resources to children on Nauru.

The greeting cards are $24 for a pack of four cards, plus an additional $1.00 postage within Australia.

Please follow this link to make an order.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Response to the Nauru Files detailing more than 2,000 reports of abuse of asylum seeker children on Nauru

08.2016
The Befriend a Child in Detention team is appalled by the reports of abuse that has been exposed through the Nauru Files. More than half of these reports contain incidents involving children, including incidents of self harm and sexual assault.We urge all members of the Befriend a Child community to speak up with compassion for the refugee and asylum seeker children who are subjected to this physical and mental abuse. You can phone or write to your State Senator and your local member of Parliament, speak to local media and talk-back radio and to any community groups you belong to. And of course there is social media – Facebook, Twitter etc. These children need us to support them, to stand up for justice and compassion.Statement from the Convenor of the Befriend a Child in Detention Project: Dr June Factor‘The Australian government must act immediately – all asylum seeker children and their families must be brought back to Australia as quickly as possible, and every assistance provided to these traumatised children.’ This is the urgent call of Dr June Factor, children’s writer and educator, and convenor of the Befriend a Child in Detention Project.‘Despite all the warnings, the government has allowed these children to be brutalised. The Minister’s cold response to this latest mountain of evidence of child abuse represents a government without principle or humanity. But now they can no longer hide behind their deceptive assurances that all is well with the children they have exiled on Nauru. Enough is enough!’Dr Factor’s support group has had contact with children on Nauru. ‘We have sent them beautiful children’s books, and hundreds of letters of friendship from children in Australia,’ she says. ‘But we know that these gestures of kindness and goodwill cannot protect or heal those children. Only the Australian government can do that. And it must, or be forever besmirched as accomplices to child abuse.’

Befriend a Child in Detention: Launch of new program: Messages of Support to Refugee Children
08.2016
The Befriend a Child in Detention team have re-launched the letter writing program in the form of an online Message of Support system for asylum seeker and refugee children. Through this program you can upload messages of support to asylum seeker and refugee children. These messages will be posted in the Messages of Support Album, the Befriend a Child in Detention Facebook page and Instagram account for all asylum seeker and refugee children in Australia and on Nauru to view. 
Read more about this program here.
View our Messages of Support album here.

Befriend a Child in Detention: Donation of books to refugee and asylum seeker children at Coolaroo South Primary School
08.2016
June Factor and children of Coolaroo South PSThe Befriend a Child in Detention team recently donated children’s books to refugee and asylum seeker children attending Coolaroo South Primary School in Broadmeadows, Victoria. June Factor and Julie Cleveland delivered the books to the school and also sat down with the children and had a discussion about reading. The children welcomed the books, as did the teachers. It is heartwarming to support refugee and asylum seeker children while promoting education and enjoyment through reading. 

News: Eureka StreetJune Factor ‘Australia’s alien relations then and now’
08.2016
June Factor, the wonderful and ever impressive Convenor of Befriend a Child in Detention, has written an insightful article about the history of Australia’s immigration policies.
Read the full article here.

News: Sydney Morning Herald, Children on Nauru are not attending school
08.2016
There are over 100 asylum seeker and refugee children living on Nauru. Almost nine in 10 of these children are not attending school out of fear for their safety.
The poor attendance contrasts with a refugee and asylum seeker schooling program run by Save the Children until last year, which saw attendance rates of up to 90 per cent. The federal government closed that program, forcing the children to attend local schools.
“[Nauruan students] would tell them go back home, and [would say]: ‘You don’t belong here, we don’t want you here, you are terrorists, you make bombs’,”
Read the full article here.

News: Amnesty International, Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru
08.2016
Amnesty International have written an extensive report detailing shocking abuse of human rights on Nauru.
“Few other countries go to such lengths to deliberately inflict suffering on people seeking safety and freedom.” – Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International.
Read the full article here.

News: The Age, Letter to the editor: MITA detention centre in Broadmedows
08.2016
There are over 1500 people imprisoned in immigration detention across Australia (excluding another 1296 imprisoned on Nauru and Manus Islands). This letter by Helen Stagoll published in The Age (July 26, p15) highlights how these innocent people are being treated.
News article

News: The Guardian, Refugees attacked on a daily basis on Nauru
08.2016
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch representatives visited Nauru to examine Australia’s offshore immigration system and say they were shocked by what they found.
“But the level of secrecy and the fact that these abuses are perpetrated not in the context of a war zone, not in context of an inherently oppressive government cracking down on its citizens, but that these abuses are perpetrated or condoned by Australia, and against the most vulnerable people, some of whom fled the most oppressive conflict areas in the world.”
Read the full article here.

News: Hell to Hell: Poems from Nauru
08.2016
An interview with Ravi, a refugee man who endured three and a half years in offshore detention. In this interview, he speaks about his book, “From Hell to Hell: Poems from Nauru”.
Listen to the interview here.

News: The Age, Stop the Bastardy of Australia’s offshore detention centres
08.2016
This article by Michael Short discusses that the royal commission into abuse in NTs detention centre is an important and necessary act. However, it should not be limited to this centre. It must include an exploration of treatment in all of Australia’s detention centres, both on Australia’s mainland, and offshore on Nauru and Manus islands.
Read the full article here.

News: Australian Story: Gone Girl – watch on ABCs iview
07.2016
This week’s episode of Australian Story titled Gone Girl puts a human face to the issue of asylum seeking boat arrivals.
Mojgan Shamsalipoor fled terrible personal trauma in her home country, Iran, and found sanctuary in Brisbane where she was able to live in the community while awaiting a decision on her protection visa. At a youth camp she met a young Iranian refugee, Milad Jafari. They fell in love, married and were looking forward to a happier future.

However, despite her apparent good fortune, her visa has been denied and she is now locked in detention with little prospect of fulfilling her dream of having a family with Milad and becoming a midwife.But she has many supporters who are determined to see her released back into the community.

Watch the episode here.

News: Immigration Devised Plan to Stymie Asylum-Seeker Medical Transfers
07.2016
The Australian have reported that immigration officials devised a strategy to prevent offshore ­detainees being transferred to Australia for medical treatment because of their “propensity” to take legal ­action and stay here. 
Asylum-seekers and refugees requiring medical attention should never be denied this right. This is another of many pressing reasons to bring all asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus to Australia immediately. 
Read the article here.

Take Action: Sign this petition to bring Ali to Australia
Save eaten fish is a campaign set up to campaign to bring cartoonist Ali Dorani from Manus Island to Australia for the specialised treatment he requires.
The terrible true story of Mr Eaten Fish: Ali has been imprisoned on Manus island for three years now. Throughout the three years that Eaten Fish has been incarcerated on Manus Island he has suffered from ever worsening and extreme OCD, panic attacks – that can leave him literally paralysed, and Complex PTSD. Sign this petition to bring Ali to Australia to receive specialised treatment and support.
Sign the petition here.
Read his cartoon story as published in The Guardian.
Read more about the Eaten Fish campaign by visiting their website

Events: Annual Social Justice Lunch, St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, Elsternwick
07.2016
Annual Social Justice Lunch held at St. Andrew’s Uniting Church in Elsternwick.
Sunday 7th August, 12 noon.
$25 per person.
See flyer for more details:
Social Justice Lunch

News: The UNHCR latest Global Trends Report has been released
07.2016
In 2015 global displacement reached a record high: 65.3 million people have been forced to leave their homes, an increase of 4.8 million people since last year.
Children made up 51 percent of the world’s refugees in 2015. 
Australia needs to step up. 
Of the 2.45 million refugees who had their status recognised or were resettled in 2015, just 0.48% were assisted by Australia (11,776 people).
Compared to resettlement by other countries, Australia was ranked 25th overall, 32nd per capita and 47th relative to total national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Global Trends, Forced Displacement in 2015


News: The Guardian, Majority of Australians say refugees who arrive by boat should be let in, poll finds
07.2016
A poll of more than 1,400 people commissioned by The Australia Institute found 63% of respondents oppose the bipartisan policy that refugees who arrive in Australia by boat should never be allowed to settle in the country, instead saying those found to have a valid claim for protection should be brought to Australia.
Why isn’t public opinion being translated into government policy?
Majority of Australians say refugees who arrive by boat should be let in, poll finds

News: Letter to the editor in The Age Wednesday 11th July
07.2016
IMG_0538

News: One plus One with Kon Karapanayitidis
06.2016
Jane Hutcheon sits down with Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for an in-depth one on one conversation. Listen to the episode by following the link below:
One Plus One: Kon Karapanayitidis

News: The ABC’s Religion and Ethics Report: “We Can Help More Asylum Seekers”
06.2016
Founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Kon Karapanayitidis feature’s in this episode of the Religion and Ethics Report, imploring Australians to think about refugees as they vote in the upcoming election. Listen to the episode by following the link below:
We Can Help More Asylum Seekers

News: Peter Mares discusses Australia’s asylum policy on Inside Story
06.2016
The Coalition and Labor both say their offshore processing policies are driven by realism, writes Peter Mares. But a practical approach must engage with moral questions as well. Following the link below the read this interesting article:
“None of us have hearts of stone”: refugees and the necessity of morality. 

Government policy: The Government says there are no longer children in detention. Is that true?
06.2016

No, it is not.

There are more than 100 refugee and asylum seeker children detained in Nauru.
There are currently 317 children in community detention.
The average time spent by children in detention facilities is 457 days

Read more here.


Government policy: What the major parties are saying about refugee policy 
06.2016 

Feeling overwhelmed by political rhetoric?

The Refugee Council of Australia have summarised the major party’s views on refugee policy.

Comparison political party policies

Read more here.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Sending books and letters to Nauru.
A message from Dr. June Factor
06.2016 

50 beautiful children’s books, each with a letter of greeting and friendship from children in Australia, have arrived in the detention centre on Nauru and have been distributed to the asylum seeker children.

At a time of great fear and sadness among the asylum seekers there, we hope that the books and letters we have sent will bring some happiness and hope to the children and their families, so cruelly and unjustly cast off on to a small, poverty-stricken island in the Pacific.

It is long past time they were brought back to Australia, and given the help they will need to recover from their suffering and despair.

June Factor
Convenor, Befriend a Child in Detention 

Befriend a Child in Detention: This Matters To Me 
06.2016 

Befriend a Child in Detention has launched the ‘This Matters To Me’ campaign.

This campaign allows you to tell politicians exactly what matters to you in the lead up to the federal election on 2 July 2016.

You may like to:

  1. Send a letter to the candidates
  2. Post a photo on Instagram @BefriendAChildInDetention, and #ThisMattersToMe
  3. Request some This Matters To Me postcards to distribute in your community or post to local candidates

To read more about this campaign follow this link.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Saturday 18 June Rally: Close Manus, Close Nauru, Bring Them Here! No Votes in Abuse! 
06.2016 

Join us on Saturday 18 June in the world Refugee Day rally, hosted by the Refugee Action Collective

Details
Date: Saturday 14 June 2016
Time: 1pm
Place: State Library of Victoria

We would love you to march with us!
The Befriend a Child team will be meeting at 12:45pm at Mr. Tulk.
328 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000 – just around the corner from the State Library.

We will be giving out postcards that promote our new campaign – This Matters To Me, we will also have a card table set up encouraging people to sign our cards to send off to candidates standing in the upcoming Federal election.

For further details see the RAC Facebook Event or RAC website


Befriend a Child in Detention: Links Not Chains Event at Clonard College, Geelong

06.2016 

The students at Clonard College, Geelong recently held a very thought provoking Links Not Chains event. We would like to thank them for their involvement in this program and commend them for raising awareness about the plight of asylum seekers.

Clonard College made the following statement about their event:

“Today we marked the conclusion of refugee week at Clonard. Students gave up their own lunchtime to put themselves in a ‘detention’ as a peaceful protest against keeping asylum seekers locked up in detention centres. We also put together our ‘links not chains’. All members of Clonard had the opportunity to make a paper link with a message of support for people in detention. These links were joined together to create a long paper chain. ‪#‎linksnotchains is about creating links of community, welcome and support….not chains of isolation.”


Policy Change: Release of children from closed immigration detention on Australia’s mainland
04.2016 

There have been recent changes in the Australian government’s policies regarding children in closed immigration detention. On 3 April 2016 the government announced that all children have been released from immigration detention on Australia’s mainland. This date marked the first time since Kevin Rudd came to power in 2007 that there were no asylum seeker children held in detention in Australia[1].

This policy change is ambiguous and misleading – 

While the release of children from closed detention looks like wonderful news, there is more to the story than the government is saying. Following the publication of this story it was discovered that the release of children in immigration detention was “more bureaucratic slight of hand than emancipation”[2]. In reality, the Australian government have reclassified sections of some immigration detention centres as “community detention”. This allows them to claim that all children had been released from detention, without actually moving the children into alternate housing arrangements.

Children living in community detention benefit from reduced restrictions on their freedom of movement, for example children no longer require guards to escort them to school. However, many families are still living in ‘detention-like’ situations. A steel fence surrounds many housing arrangements for those living in community detention, and people still need permission to stay somewhere else overnight, or have overnight visitors[3]. As of 31 March 2016 there were 317 children living in community detention arrangements[4].

In addition to those children currently living in community detention in Australia, there are still 50 asylum-seeker children living in detention-like situations on the island of Nauru,[5] together with 117 children whose families have been declared refugees but are refused entrance to Australia.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Changes to Action 
04.2016 

Due to the decreased number of children in closed detention, and the large number of letters and books that we currently have waiting to distribute, we have put a temporary pause on our letter writing program and on our request for books.

We have been joyfully overwhelmed by the public’s support of our letter-writing program to the children in detention. We still have more than 300 books and over 600 letters to distribute, and we now must do our best to reach the asylum seeker children released into community detention as well as those most deprived on Nauru. We are determined to maintain our connection to these children on Nauru – to assure them that the Australian public has not forgotten them.

We would like to thank everyone who has participated in this program. We have been immensely encouraged by the support offered from people of all ages across the nation. Thousands of good-hearted Australians have offered friendship and hope to the children forced to live in degrading and destructive circumstances in immigration detention.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Launch of ‘Links, Not Chains’ Project
03.2016 

Befriend a Child in Detention has an exciting new project called ‘Links, Not Chains’ which encourages schools to raise awareness about the experiences of those seeking asylum.

‘Links, Not Chains’ was born out of the idea that we should be creating links with those who are seeking refuge, rather than having them kept isolated from a welcoming community.

‘Links, Not Chains’ was launched at St Bernard’s Primary School in Coburg East on Thursday 10th of March. You can read an article about the launch published by The Guardian here, and follow this link for further information about ‘Links, Not Chains’ including how you can get involved.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Books and Letters Delivered in 2016
02.2016 

During February 2016, the team at Befriend a Child have managed to pack and send 24 books and 48 letters to Sydney Immigration Transit Accommodation, 20 books and 40 letters to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation and 108 books with 300+ letters to Wickham Point Alternate Place of Detention in Darwin.   Packing of over 1000 books and 800+ letters is currently underway for the Detention centre on Nauru. We plan on donating some of the books to the school on Nauru, as suggested by children in detention on the island, to help ease tension between the asylum seekers and the locals. These books will be used by the children on Nauru, both asylum seekers and Nauruans alike.


Befriend a Child in Detention: We successfully distributed cards across the country!avant card
02.2016 

The good people at Avant Card have kindly supported the project by printing and distributing 10,000 postcards throughout the country. The cards called on Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull to release children from detention. We’d like to say a HUGE Thank-you to the Avant Card team! Unfortunately there are no more postcards left in circulation, however, you can print out a copy here.


Befriend a Child in Detention: Behind the News
10.2015 

Behind the News

The ABC along with the students of Bell Primary School have produced a Behind the News story on the work of the Befriend a Child in Detention project. The episode went to air on ABC3 at 10am on the 20th of October 2015. Below is a link to the video for those who missed the show.


[1] Sky News, 3 April 2016, ‘No asylum seeker children left in detention’, http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2016/04/03/no-asylum-seeker-children-left-in-detention.html

[2] The Guardian, 3 April 2016, ‘Asylum seeker children still in detention despite claims all have been released’, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/03/asylum-seeker-children-still-in-detention-despite-claims-all-have-been-released

[3] The Guardian, 3 April 2016

[4] Australian Government DIBP, Immigration Detention and Community Statistics, https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/statistics/immigration-detention-statistics-31-mar-2016.pdf

[5] Australian Government, DIBP, Immigration Detention and Community Statistics