2019 Campaign Newsletters

Grandmothers make demands on the next wave of political hopefuls….

While the child refugees are off Nauru at last (March 2019), there are still more than 200 children in detention centres or held in community detention in Australia.

While our primary concern as grandmothers is focused on children, we are mindful also of almost 1000 other refugees and asylum seekers in indefinite offshore detention. Some of these refugees were children when they arrived over 5 years ago. Some are parents separated from their children. All are someone’s children and grandchildren.

As elders in our community, we care for current and future generations. For their future, legislated safeguards are essential to prevent a repeat of the current inhumane treatment of refugees seeking safe refuge in Australia.

Mindful of these concerns…

We, the Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children, make

Four Demands on the 46th Parliament

1. End all forms of immigration detention for refugee children

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child obligates Australia as a signatory to protect the liberty of children.
  • A child is an innocent, incapable of the full reasoning that warrants accountability before the law or consequent punishment. Detention is punishment. Indefinite detention is experienced as torture.
  • Whether it is detention behind bars or barbed wire on a remote island or on mainland Australia, or community detention where all aspects of life are governed and personal freedom is denied, detention limits the developmental opportunities for children to grow and flourish.

2. End refugee family separation

  • It is against the basic human rights of any child to be separated from parents or family within a regime of politically-motivated detention.
  • Wherever possible, children should be cared for in community settings with primary caregivers. For all children, attachment is central to well-being and recovery from trauma.
  • The family values upheld by political leaders for themselves and the Australian community are devalued by the hypocrisy of politically mandated separation of refugee family members.

3. Get all refugees off Manus and Nauru to safe settlement

  • The irrefutable evidence is that indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru is unsafe and is the cause of death, psychological trauma and physical harm.
  • Safe settlement and a secure future are essential for all refugee children, particularly those with lived experience of extended detention on Nauru.
  • After more than five years - and still with no prospect of an orderly and timely alternative to indefinite detention - the regional processing purpose of Manus and Nauru is a demonstrable failure. The urgent remedy is immediate safe settlement, in Australia if necessary.

4. Ensure refugee children and their families seeking asylum are held no longer than 72 hours to enable basic identity and health checks.

  • Children and their families warrant priority attention in the processing of claims for asylum and safe refuge.
  • The practice of detaining children should only occur for the shortest possible time and with decisions informed by the best interests of the child - not the political interest of any government.
  • 72 hours is a reasonable period for assessment of any immediate health risk and, if necessary, transfer for treatment in a community setting.

Elsewhere in the Media

Greens MP Adam Bandt – Singing at the Grandmothers’ rally, Canberra 2016

Canberra Grandmothers protest kids detention (SBS, March 2016)

Grandmothers stand up… (The Age 21 June 2015)

The Age photo gallery: "Grandmothers purple with rage at the detention of refugee children"