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2012a, Jan; ChilOut [About Children in Detention Centres.]

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Don't give them crayons

A great deal of our Christmas appeal to get a gift to every unaccompanied child in detetnion went really well. In Darwin however, where around 80 teenagers who have no adult relative with them are locked up -  it was not so smooth. The terrific voluntary organisation, DASSAN were the ChilOut elves in the NT this year, families took time out of their Christmas Day to take books and craft packs to the Darwin Airport Lodge (DAL) for all the children there. These families were turned away and the detained kids weren't allowed their gifts. The packs contained, wait for it -  shock, horror: crayons and textas! These items were baned because 'children may draw on the walls'. Read more in the aptly named for this situation; Hoopla. 
The crayon ban was complete news to us and to DASSAN. We are pleased to say that 12 days later the children were allowed to have these alarming craft items. Both ChilOut and DASSAN have since received a formal apology from Serco (the comoany managing DAL and Australia's other immigration detention centres). 
What we hope comes from the 'crayon debacle of 2011' is a transparent dialogue between groups like ChilOut, Serco and the Department of Immigration. We hope for consistency across centres, clarity around visiting procedures, gifts and the like. We will keep you posted.

Know any great young people?

Children who have experience immigration detention, children who have arrived to Australia as refugees or under 18's who are simply not impressed about the way their asylum seeking peers are being treated... contact us now! ChilOut is recommencing our Amabassador program. Media mentoring, public speaking practice, a chance to talk to MPs (yep, a trip to the nation's captial), writing for ChilOut's upcoming blog and meet some terrific people. No matter where you are in Australia, get on board and get more info: contact Sophie team@chilout.org Here's what our last Ambassadors had to say.


The guardian who locks up children in his care
Last newsletter we wrote of the Immigration Minister revoking chldren's community detention status, sending them back into locked, indefinite detention amongst adults. The issue gained media attention and we expressed our concern and dismay over this decision directly to Minister Bowen who had the Department write back to us. The response explained that the Minister made such decisions in the 'public interest'.  We have asked where the children are today and have not received a response. ChilOut will continue to pursue the matter, to bring issues like this to the public's attention and continue to challenge how it can be in the 'public interest' to remove 8 children from a care house and lock them up with adults (not to mention indefinitely lock up any child seeking protection). This decision making by the Minister for Immigration, is to us, a clear indication of why the person with the singular power to lock up children should not be these children's guardian. 

Thank you for giving hope, not soap.

Our Christmas appeal raised over $10,000 and we were able to ensure there was a present for every unaccompanied minor in detention, and some more for other children detained with their parents. Thank you for your support, your donations, your messages. As the ChilOut Gift Cards spread around the country, so too did the message that at least 150 children spent Christmas locked up and with no adult relative. Each gift into the centres was a clear message to the children -  'there are many Australians who care and who are thinking about you'.


Sydney supporters; make hearts sing with the Villawood Music Project

Join this group of volunteer musicians / singers, bring your  performance, workshop, musical collaboration, choir or whatever musical activity you can contribute to the detainees at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. If you are interested in contributing in any way to this project bringing joy through music - please get in touch with Dee. Come and perform weekly, monthly, quarterly, whatever suits. Bring your band, choir, friends etc or just come and play or sing yourself. All welcome! Contact villawoodchoir@hotmail.com  or head to their fb page. 
Latest News 14 Jan
Children affected by the complete lack of oversight on ASIO decision making. A seven year old, four year old and one year old child are among those locked up indefinitely as a result. There is no review, no information provided to lawyers -  nothing.

6 Jan
UK awards compensation to the Ay family who were detained as children. Their 13 month detetnion was the longest ever in UK history. In the UK there is controversy over the present system that sees child asylum seekers detained for one week in a secure facility. Australia remains the only signatory to the Refugee Convention who indefinitely detains children. 

DIAC statistics are out of date (30 Nov 2011) and we believe the numbers have increased from these:
  • 975 children (aged under 18 years) in immigration detention. Of these;
  • 534 were detained in the community under residence determinations. 
  • 441 are in secure locked facilities comprising and 326 in alternative places of detention (APODs). 119 of these children are on Christmas Island
Here's the info on why we don't think there's anything 'alernative' about APODs.

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