Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock says he will consider releasing children from immigration detention if he is advised to do so by State and Territory Governments.
Mr Ruddock confirmed yesterday that he was appealing last week’s Family Court decision that detaining children indefinately was illegal.
Mr Ruddock says the Family Court does not have the power to decide the matter because the Government has passed laws making the detention of children legal.
He says State and Territory Governments have had the power to secure the release of children from detention centres for some time, but no State has ever made such a request.
“I made the decision some time ago as minister if a state welfare authority recommended that for the best interests of a child in detention, they should be release from detention and cared for by state welfare authorities.
“I would accede to that course of action. It has not been, it has not been a course recommended to me by any state welfare authority in Australia where detention facilities are placed.”
Meanwhile, a refugee support network in South Australia is launching a public postcard campaign in an effort to have an Iraqi family released by the Baxter immigration detention centre.
The group, called Circle of Friends, have befriended the Al Mosawi family, who have been in detention for more than two years.
The Circle of Friends is worried about the children’s development, and worsening depression of the mother, who they claim hasn’t spoken for more than a year and remains in a darkened room with her youngest baby.
Circle spokesperson Michele Nardelli says thousands of postcards have been printed featuring a photograph of baby Salima, urging people to pressure the Government to release the family into community care.
“People hear about the issue in a very general way and they don’t think about the families of individual people.
“The Al Mosawi family are a family of three young kiddies under four, and a mum and dad just like many of us.
“What we’re trying to do by having a postcard featuring their little baby is to make people understand that these families are just like their own, but they don’t have access to a normal life.
“We’re saying that’s wrong, it’s unjust.
“And we’re hoping people will wake up.
“These are not faceless people, they’re real people.”