FIVE children freed from the Baxter immigration detention centre last week on the order of the Family Court were euphoric over their release, said Adelaide Centacare executive director, Dale West.
Mr West was with the children – aged five to 15 – on August 26 on their first day after being released from the South Australian detention centre into the care of Centacare.
He and the carers of the children took them shopping in Adelaide as one of their first experiences of freedom.
The ruling on August 25 by the Full Court of the Family Court ended a 14-month legal battle to free the children, who had been detained since arriving as boatpeople.
The children – three girls and two boys – are from one family and were released to Centacare at the request of their parents, who were desperate for them not to remain in detention.
Church leaders welcomed the court’s decision.
Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie, the diocese which includes Baxter, said the decision to release the children while their parents’ asylum claims were being processed was a win for human dignity.
‘Children shouldn’t be in detention and neither should their parents. Families should be held in an alternative detention model in the community while claims are being processed,’ Bishop Hurley said.
Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Joseph Grech of Sandhurst said: ‘The bottom line is that these children should be housed in safe and secure accommodation, preferably with their parents.’
Lawyer Jeremy Moore, who headed this battle as a test case, said a large number of lawyers were giving their time free of charge to work on cases for other children.
The Federal Government is appealing in the High Court against the Family Court’s jurisdiction over the welfare of children in detention.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (CCJDP) in Melbourne is part of a coalition of 30 Victorian agencies to release a report showing that the Government could potentially save millions of dollars a year and greatly improve the mental health of asylum seekers in detention by using an alternative system.
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