Thursday, 9 September 2010

Child Detention Australian Style

Maybe the LibCon government could take a leaf out of the way Australia treats it's children detainees. Unlike adult migrants, they are not dumped on Christmas Island to endure the overcrowding there, instead they are held on the mainland in so-called Alternative Places of Detention (APOD). These include the Leonora Mining Camp slap-bang in the middle of Western Australia and four motels in Darwin and Brisbane. Apparent luxury one would think but not according to Pamela Curr, campaign co-ordinator of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

The APODs are all run by Serco and, whilst the motels aren't surrounded by razor wire-topped fences, life inside is far from cozy. Families are crammed into single rooms and daily head counts are carried out by the numerous Serco guards at 5:30 in the morning. There is almost nothing for the children to do and at the Asti Motel in Darwin the children still have no access to schooling after being moved there three months ago. Volunteers vetted by Serco are allowed to bring toys and games into the motel for a couple of hours a day but take the toys away with them when they leave. Even the motel pool has been out of bounds till very recently, and the children are still only allowed one hour, three times a week as Serco can only afford to employ the outside lifeguard to come in and supervise for 3 hours a week. Can't have health and safety regulations interfering with the maximisation of profits after all.

And how about this? "Children get 30 points and adults 50 each week to spend in the store. Thirty points will buy them a can of soft drink, a packet of chips and maybe some nuts." Serco should definitely try persuading Ministers that this is the sort of regime they should be allowed to run at Yarl's Wood.

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