Around 40 refugee supporters of the Refugee Rights Action Network
(RRAN) travelling to Leonora this weekend have been shocked to
discover children who have been in detention for over a year when they
visited the remote Western Australian detention centre.
Around 140 unaccompanied minors have been moved in recent weeks from
Christmas Island and Darwin to the detention centre. The RRAN
activists have called for the immediate release of the children from
“We were told that children and families were going to be out of
detention by the end of June last year, but Leonora is proof positive
that even six months later, the government has not lived up to the
promise of getting children out of detention. It’s a scandal, “ said
RRAN spokesperson Victoria Martin-Iverson.
“These kids are not recent arrivals. A majority of the 40 kids we
managed to see have been in detention over a year. Yet, they are
either still waiting for their second interview or have just had their
appeal hearing. One seventeen year-old Hazara asylum seeker has been
in detention for two years and only had his second interview this
week! How is that possible?
“We were shocked to find that Serco guards referred to them by number.
How dehumanising is that? One guard came is asking ‘Is 176 in here?”
Another introduced a young Mohammed as, “Here is 428; he speaks good
English.” Perhaps more shocking - some of these kids have signs of
self harm on their bodies.
“We have serious concerns. They are not going to school; teachers are
meant to be coming into the detention centre – but even that hasn’t
happened yet, six weeks after they have arrived here.”
“We eat, we sleep; we eat, we sleep. We are very tired,” one Hazara
told the Perth visitors.
“We were told in town that the no asylum kid has been to the library
since the families were moved out of Leonora,” said Victoria.
“We are also concerned that there seems to be a large number of
untrained MSS guards at Leonora, and that we saw them with direct
client contact responsibilities with the children in detention. We
thought that having untrained guards in such contact is in direct
conflict with guidelines for children in detention. There is a serious
question whether Serco or the Immigration Department is breaching its
duty of care by using untrained guards.”
The RRAN cavalcade will be leaving Leonora around Sunday lunchtime (29
Jan) to make the return journey to Perth.
For more information/ interview contact Victoria Martin-Iverson 0417 904 329
source: Ian Rintoul