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
"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.