12 February 2015


Content warning: this email mentions incidents of self-harm, suicide attempts and sexual assault.~

Dear Mannie,

Imagine if you heard about a government that was locking up children up in a place where they were being exposed to violence and assault,and suffering from significant mental health distress.

A place where children were detained out of sight and locked up for prolonged periods of time – in many cases, more than a year. Kept in conditions so inhumane and hopeless, that they were wetting their beds at night for fear of being assaulted on the way to the bathroom, subject to such mental distress that they were biting their nails down to the knuckle. Imagine if you heard kids as young as 12 were so mentally distraught that they were ready to give up on their young lives, and were resorting to acts of self-harm.

Would you intervene and ask that country to free those children? Welcome to your Australia.

We're said to live in a lucky country, which prides itself on providing a "fair go for all". Yet, Australia is being called out around the world – by the United Nations, international personalities like Russell Brand and human rights watchdogs – for its barbaric policy of indefinitely detaining children.

Today's long-awaited release of the Human Rights Commission's report on children in detention, titled "The Forgotten Children", paints a sobering picture of Australia's immigration policies – which could only be described as government sanctioned child abuse. But while these children have remained forgotten by our leaders for far too long, it's not too late to make a difference – starting right now.

Many of us are all too aware of the harmful effects of detaining children, but there are many more who aren't even aware it's happening. This is why it's so important for us to speak up. We've produced a video with a message from those who worked directly with children in detention. Our plan is to put it on the air to reach as many Australians as possible, for as long as possible. There's no time to waste. Will you speak up for all children, who remain locked in detention, and get the word out now? 


Click here: https://www.getup.org.au/kids-out

It will come as no surprise to most that the Human Rights Commission's inquiry found "detention was inherently dangerous for children". These are just some of the more disturbing findings uncovered by the Human Rights Commission's inquiry that show why it's so dangerous:
  • There are still 221 children being held in mainland detention centres, and a further 119 children in detention on Nauru.1
  • More than 300 children in detention committed or threatened self-harm in a 15 month period.2 This includes incidents of self-inflected cuts, repeated head banging, and ingesting harmful substances such as insect repellent.
  • In the same 15 month period, there were three attempted hangings and five incidents of self-stranglulation.
  • "Children are exposed to danger by their close confinement with adults who suffer high levels of mental illness. Thirty per cent of adults detained with children have moderate to severe mental illnesses."3
Now we've heard the evidence, it's up to us to ensure others hear it too. If we're to have any hope of changing government policy, we first need to change the way Australians think about the issue. We need to encourage as many people as possible to add their voice and speak up on behalf of all children in detention. Because no matter your position on this issue, or your politics – there aren't many Australians who would agree with locking up children.

The public outrage has definitely been there – at a simmer that heats up from time to time – but we need to reach boiling point, fast. Now is when our movement, our country, needs to band together to show we have a conscience that will not be silenced. It's time to free all children from detention and show them they're not forgotten.

Speak up. Get the kids out. Chip in to help us get the word out: https://www.getup.org.au/kids-out

Now is the time for renewed hope. The GetUp community is partnering with Amnesty International, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, ChilOut, Save the Children, the Human Rights Law Centre, Welcome to Australia and Children's Rights International, who are supporting the call for all children to be immediately released from all Australian immigration detention facilities, including Nauru where 119 children still remain.

Our movement and its many friends are still lighting the dark, and our light is growing stronger by the day. We can provide hope for all the children still being detained in our name, and together we will make sure Australia returns to the right side of history.

Thank you for speaking up,
Alycia and Erin for the GetUp team

PS. It's worth noting that this report was tabled at literally the last possible minute in Parliament this evening, in order to meet the deadline for its release. But we won't let this strategic timing, which coincidentally is the time when the media are less likely pick up on stories, prevent the plight of these children from reaching as many Australians as possible. Can you help ensure it does? https://www.getup.org.au/kids-out

~ References ~

[1] Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary, 31 January 2015
[2] Children in detention exposed to danger, Human Rights Commission finds, The Guardian, 11 February 2015
[3] The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014, The Australian Human Rights Commission
GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here. Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.
Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm