Australia’s immigration laws are exceptional
No country in the world, especially not comparable countries such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the US, mandates the indefinite detention of children as the first policy option and then denies them effective access to the courts to challenge the necessity of their detention over months and even years…
34 percent of children detained in Australia and Christmas Island have a mental health disorder of such severity that they require psychiatric support. Fewer than 2 percent of children in the general community have mental health disorders of this severity. We believe the rate to be even higher in Nauru.
Children are self-harming in detention at very high rates – over a 15 month period from 2013-2014, there were 128 incidents of self-harm amongst children.
During this same period there were 27 incidents of voluntary starvation involving children.
Children have been exposed to unacceptable levels of assault, including sexual assault and violence in detention. They often live with adults who are mentally unwell.
Children live in very cramped conditions where disease and fear spread quickly. On Christmas Island up to 4 people shared a tiny room of 2.5 x 3 metres
Leading this Inquiry has been a life changing experience for me… as I talked to a very young girl - as bright and eager as any Australian… she broke down in tears, not because her family had been killed by Al Shabaab in Somalia or because she is alone and scared, but because she has been denied an education for a year on Christmas Island.
Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, releasing their Forgotten Children report on children in immigration detention