27 March 2004


Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone recently claimed there were only 13 'boat people' children in detention (The Age, 14 Feb).- but the simple fact is that creative accounting hides the truth about Australia's ongoing shameful detention of children.

There are 156 children detained by Australia. The majority (83) are on Nauru. Many of the detained children have been moved into "residential housing projects" (RHP) and so have been left out of the Minister's reckoning, despite the fact that the children remained locked up, under 24 hour guard.

There are still over 450 people in long-term detention in Australia. Fifty percent of those detained in Australian centres have been there for over two years, 25% for over three years. Some have been detained for over five years. There are still 277 people detained in Nauru, and still about 9000 refugees fearing the expiration of their temporary protection visas - and then return to Afghanistan or Iraq where our troops are still engaged.


A reminder to complete and return the Edmund Rice Network Survey which can be downloaded from the Edmund Rice Network website listed in the column at left.


New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour. The western part of New Guinea was incorporated as a province of Indonesia following a so-called “act of free choice” in 1969. In fact the incorporation into Indonesia was never accepted by the native inhabitants and their continued struggle for self-determination has resulted in an estimated 100,000 deaths in the years since. Indonesia is reluctant to relinquish control over a province that is rich in natural resources and the rest of the world, including Australia, is reluctant to confront or offend Indonesia especially in the aftermath of East Timor and the terrorist threat from fundamentalist Islamic groups.

There continue to be increasingly disturbing signs and reports emerging from West Papua, and yet for the most part Australian’s are woefully ignorant about the situation in regard to our near neighbour.

Recently Franciscans International FI (a non-government organization which aims to keep alive the charism of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi by working on behalf of the poor for peace, justice, and the care of creation at the United Nations) urged that body to put pressure on Indonesia to disband terrorist-run paramilitary groups it says the government supports in the province of West Papua.

“The presence in Papua of Eurico Guterres, one of the architects involved in organizing terror wrought by militias in East Timor in 1999 is a cause for grave concern,” FI and the Office for Justice and Peace in Jayapura, Papua said recently.

The indigenous Papuans are among the most marginalized and victimized people in Indonesia,” says the FI paper. It says there have been “a number of negative developments” in the province’s human rights situation over the past year, including an increase of violence and intimidation.

The full text of the Franciscans International statement can be found at by clicking on the link at left

For more information about West Papua you may care to visit the Free West Papua website by clicking on the link at left.


The results of the Senate Inquiry into Poverty and Inequality in Australia were published recently after the most comprehensive and high-level investigation in the past 30 years.
The inquiry found 21% of Australians are surviving on less than $400 a week, which is below the $431 minimum wage.

It also concluded, not surprisingly, that poverty is not simply a question of low incomes. It is grounded in, and nurtured by, inequality of access to employment (especially full time), affordable housing, education and training, health and dental services and a range of other public goods and services.

A more detailed response to the report can be found by clicking on the link to the St Vincent de Paul Society website at left.


Responding to a recent call from Pope John Paul II for all people of good will to focus on the plight of children in our modern world, Br Mark McDonnell a member of the Christian Brothers Leadership Team based in Rome has recently written in support of the proposal for the Christian Brothers to adopt a global “corporate stance” and actively campaign to promote the rights of children.

Noting the range of justice issues directly affecting children, from emotional and sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the break up of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons to the tragedy of AIDS he suggests that there are many different levels at which people might become involved in working for the Rights of Children such as

- direct involvement in the work itself

- proclaiming in the public arena the gross injustices done to children and exposing child injustice wherever it is to be found

- lobbying at the political level of the change of laws and the recognition of rights

-awareness raising through education programmes

- collaborating with others in promoting the Rights of Children

- being a support person for those more immediately involved through prayer, through solidarity and through the thousand and one practical ways in which a generous heart will find means of supporting a cause in which he believes passionately

The full text of Br Mark’s article can be found by clicking on the link at left.


Approximately fifty students and staff from each of the Christian Brothers Schools in Victoria gathered at Treacy Centre for what proved to be another successful justice seminar.

Guest presenter was Vicki Walker Co-ordinator of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Melbourne and former chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council – the principal advisory group to the Australian Catholic Bishops on indigenous issues.

Students met in school groups in the afternoon to plan the response to the issues presented during the day and pledged to maintain links between their justice group and the wider Edmund Rice Justice Network. School groups also appointed one of their number to provide regular reports for the rest of the network which will be circulated via this bulletin.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?