Education International
Education International

Australian movement demands better government care of child refugees

published 27 November 2014 updated 27 November 2014

A group of prominent Australians are spearheading a movement calling on the Australian Government to do better when it comes to caring for children seeking refuge in the country.

An eclectic group comprised of the who’s who of Australian arts, business, religion and political activists have joined voices to launch “We’re Better than This,” a movement focused on the unfair treatment of child refugees held in detention camps.

“This movement came about because a group of us felt there was no voice out there for the children being held in Australian detention camps,” said Actor Bryan Brown, spokesperson for the launch. “We’re just all Australians who want both sides of politics to hear us when we say we believe we can do better than we are currently doing when it comes to managing kids seeking refuge.”

As of the end of September, there were 789 children being held by the Australian government in detention camps. Of the total, 459 are being detained on the mainland, while another 144 are held on Christmas Island. A third group, located on the island Republic of Nauru, northeast of Australia, numbering 186, will never be allowed in the country even if they attain refugee status.

As part of the movement, a website has been launched featuring an online petition, action toolkit, and even a song can be purchased, with all proceeds supporting the campaign.

In the face of international conventions

A year ago, in a letter sent to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Education International (EI) expressed its concern that refugee children’s education needs were not being met, and that the government’s decision to hire private firms and “underqualified” workers acting as teachers to address the issue of depleted education resources on Christmas Island was unacceptable.

The General Secretary of EI, Fred van Leeuwen, reminded the prime minister that Australia’s denial of adequate education for the children was in “breach of Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”