Tuesday, September 21, 2010

State and corporate sanctioned cruelty to children

More than two years ago the Rudd-Gillard government promised not to hold children in custody while their refugee claims are assessed. There are now 645 children detained by Australian immigration authorities. 

Most children are held in secure accommodation rather then detention centres (what the Federal Government calls "alternative places of detention") but the distinction is largely semantic.

The children are still held under armed guard, some in detention centres like Christmas Island,  and others in remote camps (like Leonora), hostels or temporary accommodation, and their freedom and access to services and support are severely curtailed.

Children's mental and physical health is at severe risk from the nature and conditions of detention. Here in WA police are investigating allegations that two children have been sexually abused at the immigration detention facility in Leonora.

Of course all this state sanctioned cruelty is highly profitable for Serco, the private corporation that runs all the immigration detention facilities for the Rudd- Gillard government. Its profits soared by 34% on the back of its contract to run the immigration detention facilities.  And this does not include the profits it will make out of the opening of more detention centres, such as the Curtin Detention Centre in Derby.

Let's not forget that in 2007 the Labor Party adopted a policy to return the management of all immigration detention centres to public sector management. But it was not long before that commitment was  overturned by the then Minister Chris Evans

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