27 March 2004
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.
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 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.
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.
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.