3 December, 2015 - Border Force Curtails Right to Play

Australian Border Force officials have curtailed the right to play by suspending outings run by nuns for children at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation says Child Rights Organisation and INGO Plan International Australia.

Reports emerged yesterday that Australian Border Force officials had stopped children locked in detention from attending outings supervised by Brigidine nuns to the zoo and Collingwood Children’s Farm because officials felt such outings were inappropriate and ABF did not have enough ‘visibility’ or ‘control.’

“We call on the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to reinstate outings supervised by the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project for children locked up in detention as soon as possible,” said Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart.

“All Children have a right to play,” said Mr Wishart. “That right is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory.”

“The opportunity to play is not a luxury for children, it is an essential component of a child’s healthy development. It is particularly important to give these children some normal, joyful experiences, given the stressful and harmful situation in which they live on a day to day basis.”

“Being locked in detention is already denying these children a normal childhood. Surely excursions to the sort of places that every other child enjoys going to is the least we can do to ensure children in detention are provided with stimulation and normalcy.”

“Outings supervised by Serco guards, where children feel they are under surveillance, are not what these children need. They are already subjected to a life without the kind of freedom we would expect for our own children.”

Plan International Australia continues to call on Minister Dutton and the Australian Government to release all children from detention immediately.

“Australians expect better from their government than to continue to lock up children. These children deserve to have happy, healthy lives in conditions in which they can thrive.”

“How can it be appropriate for kids to be in detention but not appropriate for them to play?” asked Mr Wishart.

Editors’ notes:

  • Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Holly Crocket, Plan International Australia, Campaigns Manager, 0413 343 329