Students to protest detainment of children in Australia
Students from Avondale College of Higher Education are launching a campaign this month to protest the government’s detainment of children seeking asylum in Australia.
The campaign, called Behind Bars, will raise awareness of the cost and of the treatment of children held in detention.
“Our detention system costs 5.5 billion dollars a year,” says Brad Watson, a senior lecturer in international development studies. “It would be much cheaper to bring asylum seekers to the mainland while their refugee status is determined.” Tax payers should be concerned, he says, because they are “propping up an enormously expensive response to a very small number of asylum seekers,” the majority of who are found to be legitimate.
Brad and his students are most concerned about the treatment of children asylum seekers, who are held in “jail-like conditions that would be illegal for Australian children.” According to the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 525 children, as of August 31 this year, are being held in immigration detention centres.
Behind Bars, held on Avondale’s Lake Macquarie campus, October 22-25, will feature three key events. The first: a mock detention centre students will operate for visiting schools groups. The second: the launch of a book called Do Justice: Our Call to Faithful Living, published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Signs Publishing. And the third: two screenings of the documentary Mary Meets Mohammad, a low-key and humorous film about a group of older women in Tasmania who knit beanies for asylum seekers housed in their community.
Being a voice for children who deserve better, the campaign will highlight the importance of ensuring the Australian Government gives equal opportunity to children who are fleeing from persecution. “The message is simple,” says Brad, “let’s stop the boats without detaining children.”
Launch: Do Justice: Our Call to Faithful Living, and Screening: Mary Meets Mohammad, Saturday, October 25, 3 pm, Ladies Chapel, Lake Macquarie campus, Avondale College of Higher Education. Refreshments.