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One refugee child has spent nearly five years in an Australian prison camp

Refugee children in detention

1774 days – nearly five years. That's how long one child has spent locked in an Australian-run detention centre. The admission was made during Senate Estimates, where it was also revealed that the average length of time children are being locked in detention is currently 345 days. That's almost a year of their childhood they'll never get back. But here's the positive news, you and more than 90,000 Australians have taken action to say enough is enough, by adding your name to the petition calling for the immediate release of all children and their families from Australian-run detention centres.


This Thursday GetUp members will deliver this message straight to Parliament House. To really make our message hit home, we'll be laying 231 silhouettes along Parliament Lawns to represent every child who is still locked in detention. But we're going to need your help to make it happen. Each silhouette will cost $18 to make and deliver to Canberra.

Can you chip in $18 to help represent a child in detention?

There is no excuse. For years now, we've known of the irreversible harm that closed detention inflicts on children. Yet there are still 231 children locked in Australia's onshore and offshore detention facilities.1

GetUp members will deliver the petition this Thursday with Bashir Yousufi, who was just 13 years-old when he made the arduous journey from Pakistan to Australia after his father was murdered by the Taliban. Bashir knows only too well the harm that detention causes children, having spent months detained on Christmas Island before finally being granted permanent protection in Australia. These days he's studying to be an accountant.

Bashir will be there to share his story of a childhood spent in detention, but the 231 silhouettes will be there to represent the children who remain there, out of sight.

Chip in $18 today to help make it happen: http://www.getup.org.au/kidsout-helpout

After years of fighting this battle under the Howard Government it seems absurd that we're back here again. But as history shows, our ask is not an impossible one. On 17 June 2005 the then Prime Minister, John Howard, announced he'd release all children from detention.2 Almost ten years on, we're simply asking our Government to do what John Howard did and release children from detention.

Of course, this is only the first step on the path to fairer treatment of refugees – and it seems like a fairly reasonable ask, right? All we're asking is for our government not to lock children in places where they're exposed to significant mental and physical harm. Not to drive children to a point of such hopelessness that they're self-harming and expressing their wish to die.3 We're quite literally asking for our Government to be more like Howard – which is an indictment of just how far our nation has come in its capacity for cruelty.

Ten years ago, our treatment of children in detention sparked a national outcry, which saw Howard relent to public pressure and release children from detention.

Let's repeat history.

Alycia for the GetUp team

PS. Worried you're missing out on the main event? Don't worry, you are the main event. While GetUp members in Canberra will be chatting to MPs on the day, we need you to amplify the conversation nationally on social media.

How can you help? Post a photo of yourself as a child (or a photo of something special from your childhood) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Let people know why this particular moment or object is so special to you, and remind them of the 231 children locked in detention, who are being denied these special moments in their childhood. Make sure you use the hashtag #kidsout when you post your photo and story. If enough of us take part, we can get our message trending.

~ References ~

[1] Senate Estimates, 25 and 26 May, 2015
[2] Georgiou withdraws immigration bills, as deal struck with PM, ABC PM, 17 June 2005
[3] The Forgotten Children, the Report of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014, released 11 February 2015


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!

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 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.