Bring back the Woodville kids: Young asylum seekers taken from homes

Saturday, July 19, 2014
Two young asylum seekers have been taken from community detention in Adelaide and sent to Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre.

Two teenage asylum seekers have been taken from their homes in a community detention program in Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs and sent to a closed detention centre, causing other young asylum seekers to run away from their homes in fear.

On June 26, two young Vietnamese asylum seekers, who attended Woodville High School, were taken from their homes and detained by the immigration department.

Their third housemate, a Vietnamese asylum seeker under community detention who no longer attends school, ran away shortly after, as have 11 other young Vietnamese asylum seekers in community detention in Adelaide. They fear that they will also be apprehended and deported.

Support from their classmates, school staff and other members of the community has been ongoing. Protests have been held in Woodville and a petition has been circulated which can be signed online through the Bring Back The Woodville Kids Facebook group.

A rally was held on July 12 in Salisbury to show solidarity with these young people. In the days leading up to that rally, three more boys disappeared from the community detention program. These boys are from a house of five in the inner-northern suburbs, who were living in fear after one of their housemates was redetained between August and September last year. These are students who achieved high grades in their school, one of whom earned a scholarship.

Those who worked closely with these students said in a statement: “There is no good reason why they should not continue to live reasonable lives back in community detention while the department takes the necessary steps to establish their immigration status.

“The department should be particularly aware that they were enrolled in their education with the identity and date of birth established and provided to the school by DIBP, and as far as anyone is aware, there is no evidence to suggest their identity is otherwise.

“Revocation of their community detention now prevents them from responding to the request that they must provide ID within six weeks, and thereby forces them into a situation where they could be in breach of [department of immigration] requirements.

“They must be allowed, if not provided with, access to legal and other assistance in order to respond to the six weeks notice to provide proof of identity. This cannot be done from where they are currently held in closed high security detention at Wickham Point where, ironically, they have not yet been given ID cards. Despite that, as we observed on our visits, they are constantly requested to produce ID cards as they enter different parts of the detention centre.”

Immigration officials handed the students a notice on the day they were taken into custody. The last paragraph of the notice said: "The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has made a decision that your residence determination is no longer in the public interest. As such, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has exercised his public interest power under section 197AD of the Migration Act 1958 to revoke your residence determination. You are now required to be returned to held detention arrangements.”

[The fight to bring back these young people continues, as more actions are being planned. Sign the petition here.]

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From GLW issue 1017