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Dr Frier calls for release of detained children

20 February 2015

RUSSELL POWELL

Victory: The Primate-elect of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Philip Freier (left) and the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies

Victory: The Primate-elect of the Anglican Church of Australia, Dr Philip Freier (left) and the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn D...

THE Australian Primate, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Frier, has described as "unconscionable" the conditions under which hundreds of asylum-seeker children are detained by Australia.

Responding to a devastating report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, documenting interviews with more than 1000 children, Dr Freier said that the Australian government was "an unfit parent".

"If the government were an actual parent, these children would be considered at risk, and removed from its care," he said.

He went on to say that the children and their families should be released into the community with proper care and education as a matter of priority.

His call was echoed by the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, who said that "every Australian should be concerned at the plight of children in such extreme circumstances." The current system needed an overhaul.

The report found instances of assault, including sexual assault, against the children, and described their housing conditions in off-shore detention centres as appalling. The children faced long-term damage, mental-health problems, and other harms, the report said. It called for a royal commission into the matter.

The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has, however, rejected the establishment of a royal commission, and criticised the report for being biased against his government.

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