State and Federal Governments fail refugee children in showdown over education.

State And Federal Governments fail refugee children in showdown over education

6 March 2012

The current showdown between the Federal and WA State Governments as to who should pay for the education of unaccompanied minors in detention, which is resulting in the children not being able to go to school at all, is an absolute indictment of the failure of the detention of refugees, the Greens spokesperson for Children and Education, Alison Xamon MLC said today.

“Let us remember that the vast majority of unaccompanied minors who arrive on our shores are ultimately determined to be genuine refugees, fleeing terror and persecution from their countries of origin,” Ms Xamon, who has been to the Leonora Detention Centre said.

“It is bad enough that, despite rhetoric to the contrary by the Federal Government, that these children are in Detention at all. Leonora is isolated and remote. But the one positive had been the generous and accepting Leonora community who had welcomed these children into their schools and where the children were allowed, in to their community.

“One of the saving graces for these children being held in Detention had been the opportunity to attend school. It became an invaluable way to immerse themselves into the Australian way of life, improve their English, and of course gain an education.

“In addition recent studies have highlighted the adverse impact that long term detention has on the mental health of these already traumatised children. Their presence in the school offered at least some respite.

“I am calling on the Federal Government and the State Government to stop playing petty politics with these children’s lives. These children don’t want to be in Detention and nor should they be. But if the Federal Government is not going to allow these children to live in the community while they’re refugee claims are being processed, then at least let them go to school.

“And the State Government also needs to lift its game and not leave these children in limbo just so they can make a point to the Federal Government.

“I am calling on both Governments to resolve this as a matter of absolute urgency. These unaccompanied minors should either be released immediately and be able to attend any number of schools in the community, or at least be able to attend the Leonora District High School whilst they remain in Detention,” Ms Xamon concluded.

Additional background:

In 2010 the Leonora District High School won a District Education Excellence Award for their work with the asylum seeker children

Hon Alison Xamon MLC

Member for the East Metropolitan Region

Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051

Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931

Phone: (08) 9272 1718

Fax: (08) 9272 1719

Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering

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