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Speak up for all kids in detention

The recent Human Rights Commission report on children in detention puts forward a clear case for why we need to immediately release all kids from Australian detention centres.

Currently, there are 231 children being held in mainland and offshore detention centres, and some have been there for nearly five years. The average time for a child to spend in detention is nearly a year – a year of their childhood they'll never get back.1

But here's the positive news, more than 90,000 Australians have taken action to say enough is enough, by adding their names to this petition calling for the immediate release of all children and their families from Australian-run detention centres.

This Thursday GetUp members will deliver this message straight to Parliament House. Can you add your voice now, to make our impact as huge and impactful as these children deserve?

We need as many Australians as possible adding their voice and calling for an end to the detention of children once and for all.

[1] Senate Estimates, 25 and 26 May, 2015

This information has been taken from the Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014. Content warning: mentions incidents of self-harm, suicide attempts and sexual assault.

  • During a fifteen month period from January 2013 to March 2014, there were 128 reported self-harm incidents involving children in detention in Australia.

  • The age of children involved in the 128 incidents of actual self-harm range from between 12 years to 17 years with approximately 10% of these incidents involving children less than 15 years.

  • During this time 105 children were assessed under the Department's Psychological Support Program as being of high imminent risk of suicide/self-harm, or of moderate risk of suicide/self-harm or requiring ongoing monitoring due to having previously engaged in actual or threatened self-harming behaviour.

  • Types of self-harm detailed include: self-inflected cuts, head banging, finger and nail biting, ingesting harmful substances, self-strangulation/choking, attempted hangings, and hunger strikes.

  • From January 2013 to March 2014 there were 233 reports of assault involving children
These statements are taken from testimonies provided by medical and mental health professionals during the Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in immigration detention.

"Kids would arrive very dehydrated, filthy, covered in vomit, human excrement, they'd be sleep deprived, terrified, sunburnt. They were in a pretty bad way often."
– Dr Grant Ferguson, who worked with children in the Christmas Island detention centre

"This is a gross departure from ethical and clinical standards that health professionals should have in addition to them being bound by relevant codes of conduct."
– Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, who worked with children in the Christmas Island detention centre

"... a number of women who'd recently given birth, who had young infants, who had experienced terribly traumatic events in their country of origin, who have then been transferred, for example to Darwin to give birth and at least one or two of them giving stories of having complicated labours and delivery, not having an interpreter there, not understanding why they were having a caesarean for example, not having a partner with them."
– Dr Sarah Mares, who works with children in detention centres

"Some children's first word when they were learning English was guard, as opposed to mother or father, these are very, I think very significant observations that were made."
– Professor Louise Newman, who works as a child and adolescent psychiatrist

"Mothers complained to us that they couldn't put their babies down to sit or crawl or learn to walk because, as we all know, any sensible baby will not crawl on a rough surface that's either concrete or stone. And there is really no other surface."
– Professor Karen Zwi, who worked with children in the Christmas Island detention centre

"We went to see one little girl who had been under a blanket for three days, she was aged 12, her mother had self-harmed, she was talking about self-harm. She was saying it would be better to be dead than living here and she was refusing to eat, and in a letter that she wrote to us she said that she figured that if she just went to her room and stopped eating, maybe she would die and maybe that would be the best way out."
– Professor Elizabeth Elliott, who saw children in the Christmas Island detention

"It's troubling when any clinician is dealing with a patient and that patient is suffering and is being adversely affected and you know what it causing that suffering and that effect and you, again, you are powerless to really alter the situation to help them and to relieve that and when you know that the other interventions that you are able to deliver are insufficient."
– Dr Peter Young, who was Director of Mental Health Services for IHMS

"When you lock up children in any environment, they begin to think that they must be regarded as bad people in order to be locked up, because we generally only lock up bad people. And sadly, some of them begin to regard themselves as bad people."
– Dr Jon Jureidini, who is a child psychiatrist and has worked with children in detention
These statements have been taken from Australians, who felt they needed to speak up for children in detention. If you have a minute, you can let us know why this issue is important to you by clicking here.

"These children are self-harming. They're in there for 400 days on average, and we've got to treat them better than this."
– Bryan Brown, Australian actor

"All the data, all the studies we have, show that children are seriously damaged by being held in detention, there is damage to their mental health, their physical health, their general wellbeing and chances for the future. We are causing long-term harm to these children."
– Professor Fiona Stanley, 2003 Australian of the Year

"I'm disgusted that this sort of thing happens in a country like ours when we're supposedly among the most developed nations in the world."
– John, from NSW

"This is the first time hearing of these things happening to children, let alone in Australia. I didn't realise it was happening here. How is this occurring?"
– Oliver, from NSW

"Like everyone else, children have the right to live a good life, the right to education, good health and care."
– Dianne, from NSW

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To the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and members of the Australian Parliament,

We call for the immediate release of all children and their families from mainland and offshore immigration detention facilities. We ask that you adopt alternative policies, which are in the best interest of all asylum seeker and refugee children.

In taking action, I agree to GetUp's Privacy Policy.