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.
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:
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.
Feeling overwhelmed by political rhetoric?
The Refugee Council of Australia have summarised the major party’s views on refugee policy.
Read more here.
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.
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:
- Send a letter to the candidates
- Post a photo on Instagram @BefriendAChildInDetention, and #ThisMattersToMe
- 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.
Join us on Saturday 18 June in the world Refugee Day rally, hosted by the Refugee Action Collective.
Date: Saturday 14 June 2016
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.
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.”
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.
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”. 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. As of 31 March 2016 there were 317 children living in community detention arrangements.
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, together with 117 children whose families have been declared refugees but are refused entrance to Australia.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
 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
 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
 The Guardian, 3 April 2016
 Australian Government DIBP, Immigration Detention and Community Statistics, https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/statistics/immigration-detention-statistics-31-mar-2016.pdf
 Australian Government, DIBP, Immigration Detention and Community Statistics