Monthly Archives: July 2014

State-sanctioned abuse of asylum seeker children in immigration detention – ABC AM

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce has accused the Federal Government of state-sanctioned abuse of asylum seeker children in immigration detention. The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the claims are offensive and the Government is committed to protecting children from exploitation and abuse. But the taskforce wants the Minister to be stripped of his guardianship role of children in immigration detention.



Government treatment of asylum seeker children is ‘state-sanctioned child abuse’, says Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce

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Church leaders have described the Federal Government’s treatment of unaccompanied children seeking asylum as “state-sanctioned child abuse”. By Emily Bourke.
In a report titled Protecting The Lonely Children, the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says Australia’s treatment of unaccompanied child asylum seekers is a “sick joke”.

ACRT Media Release: Asylum Children ‘abused by state’

A coalition of Church leaders has accused the Federal Government of “state sanctioned child abuse” and called for the Minister for Immigration to be stripped of guardianship responsibility for unaccompanied child asylum seekers.

This follows the launch in Melbourne today of a new report detailing what the Australian Council of Churches Refugee Taskforce says is neglect and abuse of many of the unaccompanied child asylum seekers held in closed and offshore immigration detention facilities  by Australia.

“These vulnerable children are being locked away behind razor wire for the ‘crime’ of being born in countries in political and social turmoil,” the chair of the taskforce, the Very  Reverend Dr Peter Catt said.

“It is a sick joke that under Australia’s inadequate Guardianship Act their jailor is also their guardian, the Minister for Immigration,” he said.

“These children are held like animals in conditions that are inhumane, interrogated without support or representation, shipped around the country and offshore in the middle of the night, and denied basic rights including education.

“Given the Government continues to ignore irrefutable independent evidence from health and legal experts about the plight of these children we have no hesitation in labelling this what it is – state sanctioned child abuse.”

Dr Catt said the Taskforce, made up of representatives from Anglican, Assyrian, Baptist, Catholic, Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Quaker, Salvation Army and Uniting Church denominations, called for:

  • Fundamental reform of the Guardianship Act to ensure an independent guardian of unaccompanied child asylum seekers.
  • Establishment of a properly resourced independent Statutory Office for the Guardianship of Minors.
  • A new inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission into the conditions of children in community detention programs.
  • Ending offshore detention of unaccompanied minors and in favour of community care in Australia.
  • Developing better care standards to end the “care lotto” – wildly varying conditions depending on provider and location.

“We gave the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, and his Labor counterpart, Richard Marles, right of reply to the draft report we published, back in October last year,  Dr Catt said.

“That neither politician provided substantial or satisfactory responses to the serious issues raised by the Taskforce back in October last year, confirms the utter moral failure of leadership in this country.”

Celebrated human rights lawyer David Manne will join Dr Catt and Sister Brigid Arthur  to launch Protecting the Lonely Children: Recommendations to the Australian Government and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to unaccompanied children who seek asylum and refuge in Australia  at 10.30am on Wednesday 30 July at St Paul’s Cathedral, corner of Flinders and Swanston streets, Melbourne. It will be available online at

Media enquiries: Ingrid Svendsen, Grounded Communications, 0409 007 530

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, 0428 399 739

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:08+10:00 July 30th, 2014|Latest News|

Protecting the Lonely Children – Report Launch


We invite you to join the Chair of the Taskforce the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, the Victorian Children’s Commissioner, Bernie Geary, and the celebrated human rights lawyer, David Manne at the launch of our report

Protecting the Lonely Children: Recommendations to the Australian Government and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to unaccompanied children who seek asylum and refuge in Australia.

The report  “paints a harrowing picture of neglect and abuse, one that we could not imagine allowing our own children to be placed in” and notes “that children who come to us seeking asylum are to be regarded as a significant threat requiring detention and deportation represents the utter moral failure of leadership in our country.”

Building on our earlier report All the Lonely Children which posed 15 questions for the incoming government, this further edition analyses the response from both the Government and Opposition and makes a series of practical recommendations for a more compassionate approach towards children seeking our protection.

Launch details

Venue: St Paul’s Cathedral, Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Time: 10.30 to 12midday

Date: 30 July, 2014

We would be honoured if you could join us at this launch.

Please RSVP by email:

Feel free to share this invitation with any others that you think might be interested.

By | 2018-01-04T16:14:09+10:00 July 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|

The Drownings’ Argument

Barry Jones AC and The Rev. Alistair Macrae will launch Labor for Refugees’ The Drownings’ Argument – Australia’s inhumanity: Offshore processing of Asylum Seekers in which the Taskforce contributed a chapter.

Venue: Multicultural Hub,
506 Elizabeth St Melbourne (opposite Victoria Market.)
Time: 2.30 pm

Date: Sunday 27 July

RSVP (essential):

By | 2014-07-25T10:25:25+10:00 July 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|