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Unveiling the horror of child detention


Public statement: Year 7 students from St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School, Benowa, took part in the confronting artwork opposing child detention.
Photo: Emilie Ng

By Emilie Ng

UNCERTAINTY about the morality of child detention could be shaken by a provocative art installation organised by international aid agency Catholic Mission.

Catholic Mission’s Brisbane office displayed the organisation’s Free the Children art installation outside St Stephen’s Cathedral on September 15.

Free the Children is one of two public support campaigns supported by Catholic Mission Brisbane this month.

The national interactive art installation was commissioned by Catholic Mission last October to raise awareness about the destructive nature of child detentions.

Dolls are placed inside a large open dome cage, and interested participants can walk in to “free” the dolls, placing them outside the cage as a public statement against child detention.

Catholic Mission’s national mission formation and education officer Roza Vukovich said the artwork was a “stark reminder that children are behind bars”.

“It’s against the rights of the child charter which Australia is contravening, and is actually immoral,” Ms Vukovich said.

“Children should only be in detention for the shortest amount of time and only as a last resort, but children are being locked up for over two years, not knowing what their future is.

“Seeking asylum is not illegal, it is actually a human right, and everybody has the right to seek asylum, and children are the most vulnerable of all of those.”

Children in Rwanda also received proceeds from the first-ever Catholic Mission second-hand book sale, held in early September in St Stephen’s Cathedral precinct.

Catholic Mission Brisbane director David McGovern said the proceeds of the book sales went to supporting “vital, life-affirming programs” in Rwanda.

All book sales would personally change the lives of Rwandan children, Mr McGovern said.

Rwanda was at the heart of a Catholic Mission appeal raising money for new churches and to provide counselling, healing and classes on forgiveness for those tortured in the 1994 genocide.

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