The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on April 30, in response to apparent plans to move children and women to high-security detention centres in Australia’s north and north-west.
Wickham Point detention centre, near Darwin, was built by the Labor government in 2011. Curtin detention centre, with Christmas Island and the Northern Immigration Detention Centre, has one of the highest rates of self-harm.
See also: Why Manus and Nauru need to be closed
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) has learned that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship have declared parts of the high security Wickham Point Immigration detention centre to be an alternative place of detention and will soon move children to the centre.
The move comes following reports that the department may make a similar declaration in relation to the notorious Curtin Immigration Detention Centre that would lead to children being detained in a detention centre known for its isolation and large numbers of self-harm incidents.
DASSAN spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom said “children should not be housed in Wickham Point. It is a centre that is built on land deemed unsuitable for a workers’ village and the department should not be dumping kids out there”.
“Children in Darwin have undergone significant trauma at the Darwin Airport Lodge and taking them to a more remote, high security centre will only lead to more self harm, more suicide attempts and more trauma.”
The news that children will be moved to Wickham Point follows concerns expressed by people working at the Manus Island detention centre about the appropriateness of that centre to house children.
Dahlstrom said: “This government has adopted a deliberate policy to inflict harm on a select number of children to send some sort of message to the parents of other children. Harming children is not working, it is not stopping desperate people coming to Australia seeking safety, it is expensive and these children will never recover from the trauma inflicted upon them by this government for political purposes.”