Kids Out

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Children belong at beaches, not behind bars

Here’s an easy guide to making your voice heard.

I will not stay silent

Step 1. Write your letter/email

You can use the example below and tailor it to your own situation.

Step 2. Get contact details of your Senator’s and MPs

You can find your local MP and their contact details on the ABC’s directory. Just pop in your postcode and hit search.

You can find your local Senator’s contact information.

Copy in the Minister and Assistant Minister for Immigration.

Step 3. Print, sign and send (or email.

Snail mail is often treated more seriously than emails that are seen as part of an ’email campaign’. As such, if you have the time, please consider printing out your letter and posting it directly to those relevant ministers and senators.

Step 4. Share online, sign petitions, get involved.

Once you’ve sent your letter or email, it’s a great idea to share it with your network. You can share the image above, too.

You can also sign petitions such as this one spearheaded by ASRC or this one directly on GetUp! or this one from Amnesty International. Even better, sign all three.

Example email

Dear Sir/Madam/Senator/Minister,

///<<Insert a paragraph about what normal childhood should be like…>>///
This weekend my two year old daughter cried her eyes out because the tissue she’d torn up in a tantrum got put in the bin. Moments later she was running around in the park screeching with joy for the sheer wonderment of being able to slide down a slide.
//////

Childhood is full of paradoxes… the highs are so enormously high and the lows are so earth-shatteringly low. But they pass… usually in minutes. Because a secure, comforting, nurturing, loving and safe environment makes it possible.

Do you think children have a right to be kept safe from harm?
Do you agree that every adult has a responsibility to take action if they believe a child is in danger?
I am writing to you to demand that the following child abuse and human rights issue be addressed by our government by a matter of utmost urgency.
I deeply implore you to lobby within your own political party to separate the politics from the humanity in this matter.
I request that
  • All children be immediately removed from detention (including Nauru)
  • A royal commission is held into children being put into detention.

As per The Forgotten Children, the Report of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014 tabled last night in Parliament, a number of very alarming facts have come to light:

  • Children as young as three year olds suffering clinical depression, and 34% had mental health disorders
  • There were children on suicide watch
  • 30 reported allegations of sexual assault
  • More than 300 children committed or threatened self-harm in a 15-month period
  • Nearly 30 children went on hunger strike
  • More than 200 children were involved in assaults
A detention centre might be (arguably) secure, but is is certainly not comforting, nurturing, loving and safe (as the report has outlined). Children belong in playgrounds, not behind bars.
We have a moral, ethical and (yes) legal responsibility to the needs (physical, mental and emotional) of these children in our nation’s care.
Now is not the time for finger-pointing. Now is the time to take action. It is not important which government was ruling at the time children first started being put into detention, or at the time some of these facts were unearthed… the only fact that matters is: it is still happening under your watch.
I urge you to review the United Nations’ Conventions on the Rights of the Child and consider how current policy stacks up against it.

CHILD RIGHTS: THE FOUR KEY PRINICPLES

1. EVERY CHILD, EVERYWHERE: Children should neither benefit nor suffer because of their race, colour, gender, language,religion, national, social or ethnic origin, or because of any political or other opinion; because of their caste, property or birth status; or because they are disabled.

2. THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD: Laws and actions affecting children should put their best interests first and benefit them in the best possible way.

3. SURVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION: The authorities in each country must protect children and help ensure their full development — physically, spiritually, morally and socially.

4. A VOICE: Children have a right to have their say in decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account.

In time, I hope, you and your colleagues will look back on this period of our history and the deep stain that these last years have left… Will you be able to hold your head high and say “I did what was right”? Will you be part of the solution or will you regret your inactions in years to come?
Please, don’t be on the wrong side of history.
Yours faithfully (perhaps, depending on your actions),
[Full name]
[Suburb, State]
[Phone number]
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