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The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council today joined with other Church, civic and political leaders in supporting the Family Court declaration that the detention of children is illegal.  

Bishop Joseph Grech, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Migrants and Refugees, recalling the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers (26 March 2002), said, “The Church’s pastoral care of asylum seekers convinces us that detention, beyond the minimum time necessary for carrying out security and health checks, identity checks and the lodgement of applications for Protection Visas, is deeply destructive of human dignity. This is particularly true of children”.
Chairman of the ACSJC, Bishop Christopher Saunders, reiterated the longstanding concern of the Catholic Church that children should always be part of a caring and loving family within an environment which nourishes and supports them.  He said, “This acknowledgement that the detention of children is illegal provides hope that children who have already experienced great trauma and violence may now have the opportunity to remain with their families, but outside of detention.”

Both Bishops expressed the hope that the Federal Government would start to act immediately on the Family Court decision in favour of detained children, by releasing unaccompanied minors into the care of appropriate families and by ensuring that families with children in detention are united and released into the community.