5 August 2014 - KIDS IN CUSTODY


G'day folks,

I want you to have a very close look at the following drawings. They have been done by kids from 4 to 17 years-of-age who are currently held in custody. Take your time. I will tell you more at the bottom of this post.

Disturbing? Most certainly, especially when you realise that I'm an Australian and those in charge of these kids are Australians. Not one of these drawings depicts happiness. Here are a few salient facts for those of you who do not live in Australia:

·  An inquiry was launched in February by the Australian Human Rights Commission into children held in Australian detention centres

·  The third public hearing started in Sydney on Thursday

·  Children aged four to 17 desperately plead for their release through their drawings

·  Australia is holding 659 children in immigration detention, the commission has heard.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the messages in these disturbing drawings are loud and clear. Asylum seeker and refugee children, aged four to 17, have shared their experiences of being confined within the walls of Australia's detention centres.

The drawings were released ahead of the Australian Human Rights Commission's third hearing into the inquiry of detained children, which heard there are 659 children in immigration detention.

One troubling image shows people 'crying in the jail' while a child's parents are pictured committing suicide at Christmas Island.

Another shows a haunting image of a person holding what appears to be a knife dripping with blood with the message: 'I need to go out please. I no wat [sic] to sit in jail. I want to go to school'.

Through these drawings, children are pleading to be released where one child wrote: 'Is there anybody in Australia who can help us? Please help us'.

An inquiry into the health, well-being and development of children held in Australian detention centres was launched by Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs on February 3.

Now, here is an article written recently in The 'Sydney Morning Herald' by Julia Baird that might bring you up to speed:

"It was sickening to hear Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs report this week that nearly all the 174 children on Christmas Island were sick, depressed, self-harming, having nightmares, swallowing poisons, wetting beds, wandering aimlessly behind barbed wire. It was chilling to hear babies were not crawling.

All of this under our watch? 

Professor Triggs says the children were suffering symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, and called on the government to process them onshore. There were 128 reported cases of children harming themselves in just 15 months.

Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, cast doubt on Triggs' comments, saying she was not a doctor (even though she is a widely respected law professor), and dismissed her statements as "sensational" and untrue . But the next day the claims of Triggs, who pointed out as a lawyer she was trained to deal in evidence, were backed up.

At the inquiry into the detention of children, a former director of mental health services at detention centre service provider International Health and Mental Services (IHMS), Peter Young, alleged the government had covered up – or doctored data on – the level of distress among child detainees. 

Dr Young said they had collected data showing ''significant'' mental health problems among child detainees, ''perhaps a little higher'' than adults. But he added – when pushed – that the Immigration Department ''reacted with alarm and asked us to withdraw these figures from our reporting''. 

A very serious, troubling claim.

There were further allegations of physical and sexual abuse on Nauru Island against children by staff. 

These kids are in our care. And many in the churches are horrified and furious.

In a foreword to a report by the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce – which represents nine Christian churches and three ecumenical bodies – the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, the Reverend Peter Catt, said Morrison's position, as guardian of these children, was ''untenable''.

''The churches have a responsibility to speak,'' Catt said, because of their own history. ''We'll never again stand by and do nothing about child abuse … Institutional child abuse occurs in many different settings and it's illegal, it's horrific and it's unacceptable.''

Sister Brigid Arthur from the Victorian Council of Churches went further. She said the fact that we condone the indefinite imprisonment of children ''seems to be abusive and it is state-sanctioned''.

Morrison, a policeman's son, would hardly agree. He has been asked many times how he reconciles his Christian faith with the misery of asylum seekers and statements like that of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference that our asylum seeker policy ''has about it a cruelty that does no honour to our nation''.

In response, he has repeatedly pointed to the fact that their parents brought them here, and that he has effectively stopped or dramatically slowed  sea arrivals, which put children at great risk, and reduced the number of children in detention overall. If we welcome some, his logic goes, we endanger thousands of others.

There is truth in this. 

But the problem is this: What are we doing to those already in our care? Have we not all concurred, when John Howard (a former Australian Prime Minister) agreed to pull children out of detention, that this is something we do not want? Tony Abbott (current Prime Minister) has said no one wants children in detention. Yet the creep has continued. More than a thousand children are locked up. 

So now we need to agree to get those children back onto the mainland, where we can monitor them properly, ensure they are in good medical care, and able to go to school. Where we can make sure they don't waste precious years depressed or regressing. The Australian Refugee Taskforce also recommended an end to closed detention of children, a national policy framework, consistent standards of care and independent reviews of claims for unaccompanied children.

Speedy processing is crucial, says the Sydney Archbishop, the Right Reverend Glenn Davies, as ''vulnerable children can be scarred by detention and feel as as though they are being treated as criminals behind barbed wire''.

Even Pope Francis has condemned the ''globalisation of indifference'' towards refugees.

Obviously, this is not just a matter for the church. But the church has a moral duty to press for this. 

The founding director of the Australian Centre for Public Christianity, the Reverend John Dickson, says while the church has ''lost some credibility'' when it comes to the treatment of children, the Bible ''placed the highest demands on believers to honour and protect children, especially orphans, as special examples of God's own precious children''.

 ''When Jesus saw his own disciples preventing children from being brought to him, 'he was indignant', the text says, and uttered those famous words, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,' '' he said. ''These words should haunt the Immigration Minister, every Australian politician, every Australian with a vestige of respect for Christ, as our policies prevent children, many of them deeply traumatised, from entering into the freedoms and protection of our little kingdom.''

Trauma. Mental illness. Self harm. 

We can't ignore this any more. Enough."

Clancy's comment: Thank you, Julia. What a bloody disgrace, and may I remind all of you  that this is happening in my country, not Nazi Germany. 

You may think that I am always banging on about the welfare of kids. You're right, and I make no apologies for that. I am, and I'd like you adults reading this to consider placing one of your kids or grandkids in this awful scenario. I'm serious. Think about it. You'd be the first to rise up and shout from the rooftops, and rightly so.

It is my personal view that kids, any kids, should have an inalienable right to expect leadership, care and nurturing from grownups; any grownups. And, adults should accept that they have a responsibility to care for the welfare of kids - any kids - anywhere. 

I, as an Australian national, feel ashamed to be an Australian. To think that kids have fled areas of conflict and ended up in my country, or some designated island offshore, that has provided nothing but misery is personally shameful. It would appear to me and many others, that this government is attempting to make life so difficult and inhumane for those currently in custody, hoping that the message will spread throughout the world - DON'T GO TO AUSTRALIA! The current government states that they are doing what they are doing in an attempt to prevent people from dying in leaky boats as they flee to Australia, seeking a safe refuge. Yeah, right - just like I will win the Nobel Prize for Literature next week.

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is a devout Catholic and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, is also a proclaimed Christian - a Pentecostal. So, I have one question I'd love to ask them: When you make major decisions concerning refugees, kids in custody and matters relating to human rights, does your faith kick in? Or, do you just make a decision that is politically expedient? I'm fairly sure I know the answer to that question but I'd still like to look them straight in the eye as they answer.

Not only but also, may I remind everyone reading this that white settlers arrived here in Australia on the 26th of January 1788 - BY BOAT! So, one way or another, we are all boat people or related to boat people; other than our indigenous brothers and sisters who were already here. And haven't they been shamefully treated.

I offer the following suggestion to all members of the current government - I think a little more humility and humanity would be appreciated by those you are treating so harshly, AND by those like me who can vote you in or out of office in the blink of an eyelid.

It is sad that the two major parties in this country, Liberal and Labor, are on the same page. Seems as though both political parties are in a dive to the bottom. It also seems as if both political parties are trying to enter the Guinness Book of Records for being the cruellest to kids in detention. And, I reckon Scott Morrison, our Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, will win the demonising record hands down! Think I'm being a bit tough on this guy? Well, here is a direct quote from Scott Morrison's maiden speech in parliament on Thursday, 14th of February 2008. Read it and then have another close look at the drawings above.

"From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil." 

Wow, is this the same man?

Although my main concern is for the kids, their parents are also suffering untold misery, paid for and on behalf of the Australian taxpayer, and to a great extent without our knowledge. A few harsh points recently came to my notice from a doctor colleague of mine who'd just returned from a detention centre on Manus Island. Yes, women have to line up for sanitary napkins. And, on her return to Australia, my colleague took four refugee women shopping. The women were here temporarily for medical treatment. Guess what? One of the refugee women pointed to some underwear in a store. Yes, you guessed it. None of the women were wearing any underwear, and had not worn any since they arrived in Australia. How shameful.

Rise up adults. I can think of 659 reasons why all decent Australians should be outraged by this draconian situation - 659 kids in custody! Don't be weak and wishy washy. Attend to your responsibilites. Small people need our support - NOW!

This is a bloody disgrace! Even if you do not live in Australia, and I know many of you do not, please pass this post onto your friends if you find this an abhorrent situation. 

PS: Have another look at those drawings and then go and give ya kids and grandkids a big hug.

I'm ...

Think about this!

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