Children in Darwin detention centres await deadline

June 2, 2011

A Darwin-based asylum seeker support group today called on the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, to honour his promise to remove children from detention by the end of June. In excess of 100 children remain in immigration detention in Darwin.

Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) spokesperson Kevin Kadirgamar described the situation as "very concerning".

"The fact that in excess of 100 children remain in detention in Darwin only weeks out from the Minister's deadline suggests that the government is not serious about its undertaking," he said on June 1.

"Detaining children in immigration detention can have catastrophic effects on their mental and physical wellbeing. We see these detrimental effects time and again as we work with young asylum seekers.

"Children who arrive in Australia seeking safety need to recover from their trauma not have it compounded by being confined in detention centres."

He noted that a 2010 Amnesty International report described Darwin's Asti Motel, where many children are detained, as "extremely overcrowded with no shade or play areas for children".

The call to move children out of detention follows the president of the Australian Medical Association in the Northern Territory, Dr Paul Bauert, saying that doctors in the NT were treating children under 10 in Darwin immigration detention facilities for self-harm and attempted suicide.

"The Minister must take action to honour his promise to get children out of detention," concluded Kardirgamar.

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