The South Australian government has been accused of not doing enough to secure the release of children from immigration detention, or support them and their families in the community.
The Catholic welfare agency Centacare says it has accommodation available should the Federal Court rule next Monday that a family of five children be removed from the Baxter detention centre.
But Centacare says its resources would be stretched if similar orders were made for almost 40 other children still being held in the facility.
Australian Democrats Social Justice spokesperson Kate Reynolds says the state government must support its policy on child protection with real action, such as negotiating to free children and supporting agencies to assist them.
“The government doesn’t have to do all this on their own. There are a lot of people who have said ‘Look, we want to be part of supporting asylum seekers in the community.’
“If the state is willing to flex some muscle and stand up to the federal minister, then those children and their parents should and could be released into community housing.
“If the state government decides it doesn’t want to take any action them the children and their families will stay locked up behind the razor wire.”
A spokeswoman for the State’s Social Justice Minister, Steph Key, says the state supports the release of children from detention and is still negotiating with the federal government over appropriate support.
However she says the state is prepared to offer guardianship for the five children who are the subject of Monday’s hearing, just as it has done for unaccompanied minors in the past.