POLITICS

There Are Children In Australia's Detention Centres Again

There were zero a few months ago.

06/10/2016 10:34 AM AEDT | Updated 06/10/2016 3:50 PM AEDT
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A handful of children are now back in Australia's detention centres, after the number of kids in detention dropped to zero earlier this year.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Immigration Detention and Community Statistics summaries, released monthly, show that as of July 31, "<5" children were in "Mainland APODs" (alternative places of detention) and another "<5" children were in "Brisbane ITA" (immigration transit accommodation). The same figures and classifications on children remained in the most recent report, current to August 31.

DIBP
Figures from the June report, noting 0 children

DIBP
The table from the July report - note "<5" children

In the monthly detention statistics reports for May and June, a line specifically stated that "there were no children in held immigration detention facilities". This line has been removed from the July and August reports.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in April that "we've been able to get kids out of detention" and "we promised that we would get kids out of detention and we have delivered on that promise."

"This is now one of the most significant achievements of this government," he told News Corp.

The department later clarified that Dutton's announcement had specifically pertained to children classed as "illegal maritime arrivals" (IMA) and that some non-IMA children may have remained in detention. A spokeswoman for Dutton's office told The Huffington Post Australia the children currently in detention were not classed as "illegal maritime arrivals" except for one teenager "who has multiple serious matters before law enforcement agencies is currently in detention".

Stringer . / Reuters
Asylum-seekers at the Manus Island, PNG detention centre in 2014

We asked the department where these children had come from, exactly how many there were in detention in July and August, and how many remained in detention today. A spokeswoman for Dutton's office reiterated that the minister's "proudest achievement in this portfolio was to remove all Illegal Maritime Arrival (IMA) children from detention" but did not confirm specific details about the "<5" children noted in the reports.

"The Minister has also stated that from time-to-time there will be children who are held in detention facilities for short periods of time (with their families) whilst on final removal pathways or where they have been detained at the border and are due to be returned to their country of origin or departure point," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

Additionally, a new table was listed on the July and August reports, titled "detention group" which breaks down those in Australia's detention centres by the reason they are in there. The department spokeswoman said that minors may be placed in detention "for security or criminal matters or for breach of conditions of Community Detention".

DIBP
The table from the July report - note "<5" children

Niru Palanivel, of refugee advocacy group ChilOut, told The Huffington Post Australia that it was unclear why these children were in detention.

"They may be transitioning in and out of detention. Kids in community detention who have a family issue, if their mum and dad are transitioned back to detention, then they go with them," she said.

APODs and ITAs:

APOD: "This type of facility is for detainees we assess as being minimal risk to our communities. APODs are often used to accommodate families, children and detainees in need of medical treatment. In addition to detention facilities, APODs can be in the form of rented housing in the community, hotel rooms and other community housing through arrangements with other government departments."

ITA: "ITA provides hostel-style accommodation for detainees which includes food services as well as self-catering for snacks. The detention services provider provides programmes and activities, including onsite recreational facilities."

From the DIBP website

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