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Chilout Newsletters

ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention




ChilOut Newsletter – April Edition 2017

Dear Friend


These are the most recent government statistics available. Please continue to share with your local MP that one child in detention is one too many.
There has been a dengue fever outbreak on Nauru which has affected 41 asylum seekers and refugees and over 750 locals. This has caused a lot of fear and anxiety and several asylum seekers and refugees have been flown to Australia for medical treatment.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently sent letters to some people on Bridging Visas giving them limited days to apply. Please consider donating to organisations now scrambling to fund lawyers for these complicated applications: RACS (NSW), RefugeeLegalAsylum Seeker Resource Centre (Victoria), RASSA (SA), RLTAS (TAS) or your local legal support agency for people seeking asylum.
Thank you to our amazing Youth Ambassadors!

Last month we said goodbye to our amazing Youth Ambassadors as their one-year program wrapped up. We want to say a huge thank you to Gulnaz, Heba, Hasina, Sally Y, Vijhai, Javid, Sally A, Shannon, Hilal and Divya for their passion and commitment over the past year. They are incredible young people who have given so much to advocate for children’s rights. We have been so inspired by each of them and look forward to following and supporting their future endeavours.
Together, ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors have spoken at many school and other events (churches, rallies, community) to over 7000 people!

At our last school presentation at St Pius X College.
Did you catch our Youth Ambassadors, Gulnaz and Javid interviewed in Student Edge articles? Gulnaz and Javid shared their experience of coming to Australia as refugees and what life looks like for them now. Gulnaz has some great advice on how to approach this topic with people who have different views, taking the "we’re all human" angle. “People connect to things that are personal,” she said. “No matter what race or religion, we all bleed the same blood.”

Important news regarding our organisation’s future
As a valued supporter and follower of ChilOut you may be aware of the “refugee swap deal” which the Australian government is negotiating with the United States. While we hope this deal will mean people will be resettled in the United States, our position remains that all people seeking asylum held on Nauru and Manus Island should be brought to safety in Australia immediately, they are our responsibility. 
We plan to scale back our current operations while we observe the developments on Nauru and Manus Island closely. We will continue to be active online –  via our website, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms – promoting and campaigning for the rights of children in detention. However, we will no longer undertake other projects and activities (our current Youth Ambassador program ended in March).
We would like to say special thanks to our two staff members who have dedicated their time and passion to the cause: Niru Palanivel, our Campaign Manager has maintained our strong links throughout the sector and with the community and Zoe Grant, who started as a Youth Ambassador, took on the position of Community Engagement Officer, managing our Youth Ambassadors. Both have contributed their wholehearted passion and skills towards freeing the children. We thank them and wish them all the very best.      

ChilOut is one of 23 organisations under the End Child Detention Coalition (ECDC), with a support base of 140,000 people across all states and territories. The ECDC continues the targeted work of child rights in this area and we encourage our followers to support their work. 
Please click here to visit ECDC’s website to learn more!

Upcoming events
  • #TuesdayMourning: Every Tuesday across Australia dress in black until they #CloseTheCamps.  More here.
  • #CantStandBy: A nationwide protest action, along the lines of Occupy. More here.
  • #RefugeeWeek2017: Sunday 18 June–Saturday 24 June 2017 More here.
  • Check out our printable posters here.
     
Thank you!
Your support and interest in ChilOut has been a major reason that we have been able to conduct the important work of advocating for children in immigration detention. We will continue to monitor developments as they occur and keep you updated on social media.

Thank you ALL – mums, dads, grandparents, school children, sports clubs, religious groups, professional and community groups – for your continued support of ChilOut and our mission to end immigration detention of children.

Click here to view newsletter as a pdf.



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ChilOut Newsletter – February 2017 Edition
Dear Friend


“What do you see?” 



Gulnaz is one of ChilOut's Youth Ambassadors. She fled Afghanistan with her family in 2000 and travelled to Australia by boat at the age of four due to intensified ethnic and religious persecution in her country. She has reflected on her experiences in the poem above. If you would like to share her poem with others you can find it here.


Human Rights Watch Global Report calls out Australia on refugee treatment
The Human Rights Watch global report has slammed Australia’s treatment of refugees. The report reveals how refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru are enduring harassment, violence and threats. Additionally, medical care for many conditions has been delayed, even those that are life threatening. The Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, has said that Australia needs to take immediate steps to end our cruel policies if Australia wants to be recognised as a global leader in human rights. All children should be in an environment that provides safety and quality medical care.

Australia waits until pregnant woman is critical condition before helping her
After over a month of lobbying we heard that a heavily pregnant woman in Nauru had finally been flown into Australia for emergency treatment. The fact that we waited to move her here until she was in a critical condition (37 weeks pregnant with pre-eclampsia and her baby was in the breech position) is both heartbreaking and wrong. Thank you to all of you – doctors, lawyers and mums, grandmothers and other advocates – who lobbied so hard to bring her to Australia.

National shame: 44+ children still in detention   


Here are the latest stats to share with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. Don't let these children be forgotten!

Latest news 
Under a deal between our government and the Obama administration, it was agreed that an unspecified number of people currently held on Nauru and Manus Island would be considered for resettlement in the United States. US officials began interviews with some refugees held on Nauru in December, the interviews restarted in January, but were abruptly stopped with no explanation. Conflicting reports are coming from the US. 
Despite our government insisting the US deal is the best option, many questions still remain. What will happen to people who do not pass the security vetting? And how much longer until all refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru find safety?
Over 80 organisations including ChilOut have called on the Australian government to take responsibility for the people they have indefinitely detained on Nauru and Manus. We need to #CloseTheCamps #BringThemHere and ensure #SafetyForAll. To join the call sign the petition from the Refugee Council of Australia.

Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute information on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you Nani from Designani
Talented artist Nani from Designani shares her reflection of 2016 in one picture. Thank you for raising awareness on this issue Nani and for sharing your powerful image. Nani designs many of our wonderful infographics including the graphic of Gulnaz’s poem above. To contact her and see her other work go to: www.designani.com 


Upcoming events
  • Street Food Markets: Addison Road Community Centre in Sydney on the first and third Saturday of every month. The market supports recent refugees and migrants to start up their own businesses. Vendors offer food, music and crafts from their home countries. For more information click here.
  • Palm Sunday rally: 9 April. This march will focus on calling on the government to #BringThemHere. For more information on the Sydney event click here.
  • Deng Adut speaks at Crescent Institute: Former refugee and current lawyer Deng will be speaking at the Crescent Institute at their first Sydney professional networking event. For more information on this event happening on 2 March click here.

Thank you for helping us work towards ending the immigration detention of children!

Click here to view this newsletter as a pdf.




ChilOut Newsletter – January 2017 Edition

Dear Friend,




Youth Ambassadors celebrate the year and plan for 2017!


ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors have just stepped into 2017 after a successful year. They have spoken at 19 schools and 14 community events to a total of almost 7,000 people. ChilOut has also been in the media around 20 times this year. This has helped us spread positive stories of people seeking asylum and share the message that children do not belong in detention centres.
To finish off a great year of sharing stories and educating people about why children don’t belong in detention, we brought our Ambassadors together for a weekend to reflect on the year and to plan for the upcoming year. One of our ambassadors, Gulnaz Beg, reflects on the weekend:
The training event provided us with the opportunity to reflect on our endeavours as ChilOut Youth Ambassadors of 2016. One thing I noticed profoundly was how everyone had matured and grown as an individual from the first time we had met. We seemed wiser, stronger and far better informed. We were truly a team working together when we were having meals, researching, undergoing training or simply having a day out. We walked out of the room feeling proud, accomplished and skilled in so many ways! We can all come away from this experience with hearts full of love and compassion to have worked and known so many great people both in ChilOut and others we have crossed paths with.
REPORT: The Child Protection Panel's "Making children safer- The wellbeing and protection of children in immigration detention and regional processing centres"

The Child Protection Panel was established by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in March 2015 to provide independent advice about the wellbeing and protection of children in immigration detention and in regional processing centres. During the busy Christmas period, they published a report that outlined key observations, reviews and recommendations about children in immigration detention.

Yet again, the Department has refused to accept that the 45 children on Nauru are Australia's responsibility by shifting the duty of care to the Nauruan authorities. They state, "The Panel has commented in detail on, but purposely not made recommendations in relation to, Nauru RPC, as this facility is operated by the Government of Nauru."

It is important that the findings and recommendations of this major report are not ignored. Here are some images you can share on social media. Stay tuned with our social media for more images.

 
ChilOut visits a refugee community living in Indonesia

 
Zoe Grant, ChilOut's Community Engagement Officer, had the privilege of travelling to the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre in Bogor, Indonesia, to spend a few days with families from refugee backgrounds. Below are some thoughts she has shared about her trip:
After having worked in the refugee sector for a while now, it was very insightful to see everything from a different perspective by spending time in Indonesia and meeting the people behind the news stories. I have been friends with former refugees who had also come to Australia and had also passed through Bogor for some time, but seeing it for myself gave me a new found respect and admiration for the people who have to go through this challenge. My friends are truly incredible humans; they are funny and kind, amazing bakers and artists, and doing degrees in science, law and business – as well as taking the time to speak up for children’s human rights! I am so thankful that they can now call themselves Australian, and I’m grateful for their friendship. While in Bogor I couldn’t help but to dream of all of the amazing things the children at the school might be doing with their lives one day.
Read more about Zoe’s trip and her experience of staying with a refugee family by clicking here. Visit their website to see what work the school is doing and how you can support them!
Thank you for your support!
ChilOut is starting 2017 with hope that the current situation will change for children in detention and that people like you will continue to fight with us. In 2016, ChilOut continued to be a trusted source of information on various platforms and helped spread real stories of people seeking asylum through our Ambassador program. This was made possible because of your ongoing support and encouragement.
At the start of 2016 there were a total of 142 children in detention centres. This included 88 children in detention in Australia and 54 children on Nauru. Currently, there are <5 children in detention in Australia and 45 children on Nauru. We will keep advocating to ensure that every child’s best interests are upheld in Australia despite their mode of arrival.

Let's debunk the myth that there are no more children in detention. Please share this image on social media to show your support.

ChilOut has several working projects going into 2017 and we look forward to sharing them with you soon! You can follow us on social media to keep up to date with what is happening and to show your support. You can also support our work by making a donation here.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to working with you in 2017!
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 December 2016 edition - they may 

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 November 2016 edition was published 

at the begining of December 2016


ChilOut Newsletter – November 2017  Edition

Dear Friend,

Say #NoLifeBan

Last month, the government announced proposed laws to ban certain asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia, even on a tourist visa. ChilOut calls on cross bench Senators and Labor to not support the ban. Please call them today and say #NoLifeBan and to #BlockTheBill.
Resettlement deal with the USA
This month we heard that the government is planning a one off deal with the United States of America to resettle refugees currently on Manus and Nauru. The deal will not include everyone on Manus and Nauru, people who were sexually and physically abused may be forced to return to the camps before being resettled and there are still questions about what will happen to families who are currently separated.
While we welcome a more humane solution and the government’s acknowledgement that offshore processing is a dead end, there are still many details that we don’t know. ChilOut believes that the Australian government should #BringThemHere and #LetThemStay to ensure we stay true to our legal and ethical obligations. Please also support Refugee Council of Australia's campaign for family reunion in calling our political leaders to show compassion and to give a #FairGoForFamilies.
A letter to the Prime Minister
"I'm only twelve years old but I can still recognise and notice the problems our modern society faces today. Many people say Australia is a "lucky country", but those refugees aren't feeling so lucky...What would you do if Australia had a crisis and you were forced to flee the country?"
Scarlett is 11 years old and seems to understand humanity more than many politicians. We are excited that children like Scarlett are Australia’s future! You can read the rest of Scarlett’s letter here.

Latest stats


Despite what some politicians are claiming, there are still children in detention. We believe that one child in detention is one too many. Stay tuned with our Facebook and Twitter feeds for any changes.
Christmas appeal

This holiday season we need your support to help us reach our goals in releasing children from detention and working towards legislative change. You can support our work by donating to our Everyday Hero Christmas Appeal. Thank you for your ongoing support of ChilOut’s work, we couldn’t do it without you! 



ChilOut Newsletter – October Edition
ChilOut_8Aug16.png

Dear Friend,


Statistics show KIDS IN DETENTION again in Australia

We are sad to share that a handful of children are back in detention on the mainland, and 49 are still detained on Nauru (around 150 children in total are still living in limbo in Nauru). To read more about this click here.
Lifetime bans
Proposed laws announced on Sunday aim to ban certain asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia, even on a tourist visa. ChilOut calls on the cross benchers and Labor to not support the ban. Please call your MPs and say #NoLifetimeBan, for suggestions on what to say click here#RightTrack
Nauru police finally charge a person over assault of child
For years we've been hearing of assaults on Nauru with, as far as we know, not a single person charged. Yesterday, we read that Nauru police will charge person with indecent assault of six-year-old asylum seeker. We welcome this news but must ask, 'Why has this taken 3 years? Why now?' We ask the court to please protect this child from the harms of directly testifying. She's suffered enough. We ask the government to have a heart and close down these damaging centres now and #BringThemHere.
ABC’s Forgotten Children Report
ABC’s Four Corners program showcased an in depth report on children who are currently trapped on Nauru. You can watch it online here. One of our Youth Ambassadors, Heba Niem, has written her reaction to this heartbreaking report – here's an excerpt:
I come to ask myself the question, what kind of country is happy to provide safety, a good education and health care and opportunities to reach dreams and ambitions to children within its border but yet is implicit in the ‘death by slow torture’ of other children in Australian run refugee camps, simply because they arrived by boat?
Stay tuned with our social media pages (Facebook and Twitter) for the full article from Heba.
Doctors free to speak about Australia’s detention regime after U-turn!
Some good news! Earlier this year, doctors launched a High Court challenge against the detention secrecy laws. Now, an amendment has been made to the highly controversial Border Force Act to exclude “medical workers” from their secrecy provisions. In effect, doctors are now free to speak about the conditions and medical treatment in Australia’s immigration detention system. However, teachers, lawyers and other staff still face two years imprisonment if they speak out. You can read more about this here.
Amnesty’s Island of Despair Report
This report by Amnesty International followed interviews of 100 people on Nauru and focussed on the scale and detail of abuse that is happening on the island. Amnesty International found that 'the conditions to which refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru are subjected amounts to torture'. Yet another reminder that Nauru is no place for a child seeking asylum.

UN’s message to Nauru About Kids in Detention
The Nauruan government has been told by the UN that they need to urgently take action to investigate the allegations of abuse, mistreatment and sexual assault that are happening to children held on Nauru. 
Youth Ambassador Update
This month our Youth Ambassadors have spoken at the Law Society, at local churches and at a school in Darwin and Adelaide! Our Ambassadors have said, 'It has been so encouraging to speak at local churches on the issue and to see how ready they are to take action.'
Ambassadors spoke at the Law Society (NSW) and one of our Youth Ambassadors, Divya, reflects on her involvement:

This month I had the opportunity to speak at the NSW Law Society’s workshops for young students. I was extremely impressed by the level of awareness that these students had about refugees. Their eagerness to learn more about children in detention, and simply asking why this inhumane treatment is allowed, made me realise just how aware they really were. One student asked ‘If this is so wrong, why is the government still doing this?; a question that I ask myself every day. These young children can see how kids just like them are suffering in Nauru and some also had friends who had spent time in detention, which led them to be even more critical of this cruel system.
Humanising the issue and exposing future generations to the mistreatment of refugee children, is a crucial step to raising awareness of children in detention. I was pleased to see that many of these kids had already begun researching the issue, with passionate views on the matter at such a young age. It made me feel really happy to think, to simply get through to one child today, could potentially lead to another 10 children, their parents, their families and friends knowing about this problem. If a child can ask us why on earth is this still happening, then our leaders should too. 

Get involved
  • This year Migrants Day is focused on ending child detention. To raise awareness of what children in detention go through join the social media campaign! For more information click here
  • Doctors 4 Refugees have been doing amazing work supporting those who need it most. Join them in marching for refugees on 5 November in SydneyMelbourneNewcastleCairns, and Hobart
Thank you for continuing to support our work, with a handful of children back in Australian detention centres now more than ever we need to keep fighting. To help us you can by donating here. All donations over $2 are tax deductible!


ChilOut Newsletter – September Edition


Dear Friend,

Children Don't Belong in Detetion

The August statistics for detention have just been released again showing no drop in the 49 children in the detention centre on Nauru. This is despite the fact that some asylum seekers have been there for over 3 years. Over 24% have been held for 730 days or more.

According to the Hon. Minister Charmaine Scotty, Head of Delegation of Nauru at the United Nations a total of 173 refugee and asylum seeker children are on Nauru (including children in the community). We know from countless reports and inquiries that none – whether inside or outside detention – are safe on Nauru.

Also we cannot forget about the men on Manus Island. This includes several who have been held so long they are now adults.

We call on the government to #CloseTheCamps and #BringThemHere.

Australia on the International Platform

This month political leaders and civil society representatives signed the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants at the UN Summit on Migrants and Refugees. All 193 member states (including Australia) committed to working towards ending child detention. Let’s make sure they stick to their word! Share, like, and sign our petition to show your support.
It was, however, disappointing to see Malcolm Turnbull put forward Australia’s border protection policies as a model for other countries to follow. We hope that other governments realise that Australia’s hard-line border policies come at a tremendous cost to human life. The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) have condemned this statement and noted that our government tends to ignore the 'elephant in the room in the form of our offshore detention system'.

This plea to the UN from a refugee held on Nauru shows why we must end long term detention.


Children held on Nauru are Australia's responsibility

2015 UNICEF review of child protection in Nauru in 2015 noted that more had to be done to protect refugee and asylum seeker children. Last week before the United Nations a delegate from Nauru stated that the newly created Child Protection Unit was only for 'national purposes and did not concern refugee and asylum seeker children'. The delegate stated, 'The latter were looked after by the Australian government.' Countless inquiries and reports have found clearly children are not being protected by the Australian government.

ChilOut's Youth Ambassador Report


YA Group Photo
This month our Youth Ambassadors have spoken at a school, on a panel, held a stall at the Youth Humanitarian Festival and held workshops at the Law Society's Young Lawyers event. Check out their Facebook page. To read more about our Ambassadors or to book an Ambassador to speak, visit our website.


Latest news

Australian Human Rights Commission released its “Pathways To Protection” report – A comprehensive report exploring rights-based alternatives to third country processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. 
In response to #PathwaysToProtection and in support of Professor Gillian Triggs, ChilOut called on Malcolm Turnbull to explore the alternatives to detention. Read our press release here.
Connect Settlement Services (CSS) is the latest in a long line of contractors to pull out of Nauru. (Ferrovial leaves in October 2017, Wilson has also announced this month that it will not tender again.) CSS has 'consistently raised concerns about insufficient mental healthcare and child protection services on the island'. Read more here.
The UNICEF True Cost of Australia's Refugee Policies report has revealed that holding someone in detention costs taxpayers $400,000 a year. Ending ‘open detention’ on Manus Island and Nauru could save Australia $2 billion by 2020.

A National Audit Office Report report finds ‘serious and persistent deficiencies’ in the Immigration Department’s management of contracts.

A former WorkSafe Victoria prosecuting solicitor in this article shows there may be apparent criminal offences being committed against Australian workplace law.  

Get Involved!
Join a Welcome to Australia Walk near you! No matter where we're from, how we got here or why we've made Australia home – we now share our future – so let's #walktogether.

'Cast from the Storm' is a must-see powerful and uplifting film following students with refugee backgrounds who share their journeys through the inspirational Treehouse Theatre program.

Public Education Foundation’s Friends of Zainab Scholarships support students with refugee backgrounds through their High School Certificate and their first two years of university.
Download ChilOut's Printable Posters for demonstrations or other events. Take a photo with the posters, share on social media and show your support! 
And don’t forget ChilOut has a new website! Check it out here.


Thank you everyone for your ongoing support!

Rosie

This month we had a very special donation from 12-year-old Rosie. She spent her weekend making cards and bookmarks to raise money for ChilOut. We are blown away by her generosity and her compassion!
Please donate to ChilOut here. All donations over $2 are tax deductible and any contribution small or large helps!

CONNECT WITH US

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Newsletter for August 2016


Dear Friend,
Statistics
 
The latest government statistics from 31 July show that the number of children in immigration detention has not changed since 30 June 2016 (0 in Australia, 49 on Nauru). These children are struggling daily and we urge the government to release them immediately and bring them to Australia. #BringThemHere
Nauru Files
The release of Nauru Files was a heartbreaking reminder of the suffering that is happening on a daily basis to the 307 men, 55 women and 49 children on Nauru (plus those in the community). The Guardian released over 2000 incident reports that included accounts of physical and sexual assault, self-harm, poor living conditions, poor medical treatment, hunger strikes, injuries, threats and lack of accountability of corporations running the centre and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection charged with their care. What shocked us the most is that 51.3% of these incident reports involved children where children only made up 18% of the population held on Nauru during the relevant time. A lot has been happening in response to the Nauru Files and we encourage you to help us keep up the momentum by signing this petition and taking action. To read the Nauru Files, click here and to have a look at ChilOut’s press release in wake of the files, click here.
Thank you for standing up to say #BringThemHere!
We have been blown away by the thousands of people who have stood up for refugee rights this month. The month started with the distressing release of the Nauru Files and what followed were amazing acts of courage and compassion.
To those who took over the streets around the world, all we can say is, WOW! Thank you! In London, people read the Nauru Files outside Australia House in their entirety.
A Catholic Nun and six Pastors were arrested on 29 August 2016 after holding a peaceful sit in for five hours at Malcolm Turnbull’s office. These brave people from Love Makes A Way said they would stay until the government made a commitment to bringing all refugees and people seeking asylum to Australia. In response to such acts of compassion and courage, those in detention have said “[i]t is a source of strength for us to know that there are people in Australia fighting for our freedom”.
A special thank you also to the former teachers who shared their personal stories of working on Nauru, despite the risk of 2-year jail term. It is comforting to know that people like you are keeping the fight alive to remove all children from immigration detention!
Youth Ambassador Activities
Our Youth Ambassadors have spoken all over the country this month! Thank you to Penrith High School, Hawker College and the Adelaide Rotary Club for having us.
One of ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors, Mohammad Javid, spoke about his experience of coming to Australia as a refugee and shares:
“When I arrived in Australia my life completely changed. Arriving in Australia was like a new birth, a new start, a new opportunity to achieve my goals and dreams, which were taken from me in Iran. During first year of my arrival I didn’t know English, but I had the determination to help people who needed my help. Helping people doesn’t require language but it requires passion, caring and understanding.”
We are so grateful to have Mohammad as a Youth Ambassador and are very proud of all that he has achieved. Our Youth Ambassadors will continue to be busy this month with speaking events coming up in Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne. If you would like a Youth Ambassador to speak at your next event please email us at team@chilout.org.
New website
We’ll be launching our newly designed and more accessible website next week. Check out www.chilout.org next week to see all the facts, stories, statistics, reports and more related to children in detention.
Get involved
  • Cast From The Storm: Australian film premiere: You are invited to the premiere of an intimate and deeply moving film on 6 September in Sydney. This film brings you into the lives of ordinary teenagers with extraordinary stories. The story follows three high school students who are former refugees. You can book your tickets here.
  • Youth PoWR 2015: Do you want to help build a more compassionate and just Australia? Join young people (17–35 yrs) from diverse faith backgrounds at Youth PoWR to have a voice and a vote in shaping our multi-religious, multicultural society. Youth PoWR will explore many different issues including refugees. For more information, click here.
  • Manly Uniting Church Prayer Vigil: If you wish, you can join Manly Uniting Church in calling for the government to remove all children from detention. The Church is holding a 24/7-prayer vigil and the Minister says that he will not leave the spot and is fasting until all children are removed from Nauru. For more information on how to join or take action with your local church, click here.
  • Donate to ChilOut: We could not do our work without you! Thank you for all the support you continue to give us. We are so happy to see the numbers of children in detention drop so much over the last few years and need your help to reach the finish line! Please consider donating today to help release 49 children from detention, and ensure that child rights are enshrined in law. All donations over $2 are tax deductable.  

Newsletter for May 2016


Dear Friend,
Former child refugees who are amazing assets to Australia!
Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, made headlines this month when he said illiterate asylum seekers would take Australian jobs and live off social welfare. These comments are not helpful and are not based on facts. ChilOut knows many incredible and hardworking former refugees who have made Australia a better place. We thought we would show off some of our amazing friends who are former refugees! Our Ambassador Mohammad Ali Baqiri came to Australia by boat when he was ten years old and spent three years in detention in Nauru. He learnt some basic English when he was in Nauru and he is now finishing a law and business degree. Last year’s Youth Ambassador Sarah Yahya came to Australia as a refugee from Iraq as a child and she is now studying journalism and wrote this brilliant article. Even Mohammad’s brother, Nabi Baqiri, who is an illiterate former refugee, now employs dozens of labourers on his successful fruit farm!
Upcoming federal election
As you would all know, the federal election is on 2 July. This is an excellent opportunity for you to make your voice heard on how you feel about the issue of keeping vulnerable children locked up in detention! With only a month to go, it is time to share your view with your local MPs and candidates and make it clear that children do not belong in detention centres. We urge you to personally write to your MPs and set up a meeting with them. Perhaps even grab a group of friends and go together! To find your local MP’s contact details click here. ChilOut is a lead member of the End Child Detention Coalition and together we will be releasing materials and information to assist you in understanding where your local MPs and candidates stand on this issue. Follow us on ChilOut’s Facebook  and the End Children Coalition Facebook pages to find these materials.
Children in Nauru are still suffering
Unfortunately, the Department of Immigration has been delayed in releasing the latest immigration detention statistics so we are unclear about the exact number of children currently in detention. The latest statistics from 31 March show that there are 17 children in immigration detention in Australia and 50 children in the Australian-run immigration detention centre in Nauru. We are deeply concerned by news that continues to come out of Nauru in relation to children in detention. Families and children at the detention centre in Nauru are still peacefully protesting every day. They have been protesting now for 73 days. Recently there have also been reports of children drinking washing powder in an attempt to commit suicide.
Thank you for your amazing support!
We have had an incredible show of support over the last month and want to say a big thank you! Liam McNicholas, a writer and speaker, made the generous pledge of donating funds to ChilOut from the proceeds of work he has been commissioned to complete until the end of June. If you need a writer or speaker please check out his work here. Thank you Liam, we love that you are using your talents to help others!
A huge thank you to Kerry Sawtell and her community for raising $1,500 for ChilOut by putting on a musical event called #SingingForSanctuary in Shoalhaven. It looked like such a wonderful event and we appreciate the work you put into running it.
Another big thank you to everyone who voted for ChilOut in the Grill’d Neutral Bay ‘Local Matters’ program last month. We are thrilled to share that ChilOut won first prize! We are so thankful to the people all over the country who put on events and find ways to raise funds for ChilOut. It drives us to continue working hard, knowing that we have your support.
ChilOut End of Financial Year Appeal
With the number of children in immigration detention slowly declining, we are getting closer to reaching our goal of ending child detention! For this reason, now more than ever we need your help to get across the finish line! We are so grateful for all the support we receive for the work we do. At the moment, one of the best ways you can help end children being in detention is by donating to our work. We are a small organisation that relies on generous public donations to keep going. Please donate today via our website- either as a regular supporter or a one-off donor. Every dollar counts in our important work! All donations over $2 are tax deductible, so there is no better time than now to donate with the end of financial year fast approaching! You can donate at: www.chilout.org/donate.
Youth Ambassadors in the news
Our Youth Ambassadors have been busy over the past couple of weeks with a number of local media interviews. Law student Vijhai Utheyan was interviewed by the Blacktown Sun, and when asked about the issue of children in detention he stated, “It’s not a political issue at all, it’s a basic human rights issue. No one should be treated in such a way.” The Liverpool Champion interviewed former refugee and child detainee Gulnaz Beg, and Gulnaz shared why she wanted to be a Youth Ambassador saying “I felt that this was a moral and ethical issue.” Gulnaz came to Australia by boat when she was four years old after fleeing Afghanistan to escape ethnic and religious persecution. She is now studying a Bachelor of Science and wants to pursue a career in environmental science. Heba Niem who is a law and international studies student was interviewed by the Sun Parramatta Holroyd and said, “I want children to have the same opportunities and freedom I had, not trapped behind a barbed wire fence.” All our Youth Ambassadors have stories to share. If you would like a Youth Ambassador to speak at your next event email us at team@chilout.org .
To keep up to date with all the news articles that our Youth Ambassadors are featured in and events they speak at, follow us on Facebook. We have also made introductory videos about each of our Youth Ambassadors so you can personally meet them! To watch these videos click here.
Farewell to our Campaign Coordinator
This month ChilOut sadly farewells our Campaign Coordinator, Claire Hammerton. Claire has worked tirelessly over the last year and a half to advocate for the freedom of children in detention. Claire has been amazing in juggling a number of activities, including coordinating our youth ambassador program, speaking on panels and at events, preparing strategies for the election, developing relationships with politicians, working with UN bodies, making submissions and collaborating with partner organisations. She has hugely contributed to our work and we greatly appreciate all she has done. Thank you Claire, we wish you all the best at your new job and will miss you!
You could be ChilOut’s next Campaign Coordinator!
With that news, it means that ChilOut is now looking for a new Campaign Coordinator! We would like to recruit someone for a part time role - if you or someone you know has experience in the advocacy / asylum seeker area and is interested, please contact us at coordinator@chilout.org
Upcoming events for your calendar
  • Refugee week 19 June-25 June: There are so many events happening all over Australia to celebrate refugee week! Find an event near you in this calendar.   
  • The film Chasing Asylum, directed by Academy Award winner Eva Orner, has been touring the country with great success. There are screenings happening throughout June, so get in quick to ensure you don’t miss out! The film reveals never-before-seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention centres. It will give you a heartbreaking insight into what children in detention are faced with daily. To buy tickets to a screening in your city click here.
  • Fundraising Concert with Simon Tedeschi: On Sunday 12 June at 2:30 pm join one of Australia’s most renowned pianists at the Nambucca Community and Arts Centre. Tickets available at door or from Helloworld Travel, Nambucca Heads or The Alternative Bookshop 2/105 Hyde Street, Bellingen. Half the funds raised will kindly be donated to ChilOut. Thank you to Bellingen and Nambucca Heads Rural Australia for Refugees for putting on this event and for being such wonderful ongoing supporters of ChilOut!    
  • Tree of life play: This June in Sydney the Treehouse Theatre presents a brand new production, Tree of Life, which will see 20 young refugees take to the stage to share their own stories of horror and joy, laughter and pain, wonder and strength. For more information and to book tickets click here
  • Pre-election rally: Close Manus, Close Nauru, Bring Them Here: 19 June, 1:00pm at Town Hall. For more information click here. Hope to see you there!
  • Freedom Stories: This film explores the achievements and struggles of people who came to Australia by boat. Watch the film at the Palace Cinemas Leichhardt on 24 June. For more information click here.
For the PDF version here.
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention · Australia
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Newsletter for April 2016


Dear John,

Welcome to our New Youth Ambassadors!
We are very excited to introduce you to ChilOut’s new Youth Ambassadors for 2016! These ten amazing young people from across Australia are passionate about the rights of children seeking asylum and want to raise awareness and make a positive impact. Many of our Youth Ambassadors came to Australia as refugees, which mean they bring much-needed personal experience to the role. Want to meet our Youth Ambassadors? Click here to read their short bios. In April, our new ambassadors attended a training weekend in Sydney to prepare them for their role, which included sessions on advocacy, media, public speaking skills, mental health, refugees’ rights and children’s rights. It was wonderful to see the group bond so well and formulate ideas for the year ahead.
Our new Youth Ambassadors have already been busy. A few days after the training weekend, Sally Yahya spoke at the Soul Survivor conference about her journey coming to Australia as a refugee. The students were really affected by hearing Sally’s personal story, as it humanised the issue and meant it was no longer something they had heard second-hand in the media. Another new Youth Ambassador, Gulnaz Beg, has been interviewed on film by an organisation examining groups who are trying to better the lives of refugees.  In the next few weeks we will introduce you to our Youth Ambassadors through short films on social media, so stay tuned! If you would like any of our Youth Ambassadors speak at your school or community event please email us at team@chilout.org.
Are all the Children out of Detention?
There have been a lot of questions recently related to whether all children have been released from immigration detention, as was announced by Minister Dutton in early April. Whilst the number of children in immigration detention thankfully continues to decrease, we are not quite there yet! The latest government statistics, dated 31 March 2016, show that there are 17 children in immigration detention in Australia and 50 children in the Australian-run detention centre in Nauru. Many children who remain in detention in Nauru are in a particularly dire situation, having been there for more than two years. Also of concern is the fact that children and families who have recently been released into the community have been told that they could still be transferred back into detention in Nauru. We are getting closer to our goal of ending child detention, but still have considerably more work to do! If you would like to support our work, please make a donation at www.chilout.org/donate. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
April Activities
ChilOut ambassador, Mohammad Ali Baqiri, had the opportunity to speak at an Australian Lawyers for Human Rights panel event earlier in April with Professor Gillian Triggs and Dr Peter Young. The event examined the case for a royal commission into conditions in immigration detention. The event was sold out and the audience were especially moved by Mohammad’s personal story about his journey to Australia and being detained for three years as a child in Nauru. Our 2015 Youth ambassador Sarah Yahya recently ventured out to Wagga Wagga to speak at a Rotary District Conference and share her story of coming to Australia as a refugee. Wagga Wagga will soon be welcoming 300 new refugees into their community and they are excited to start this process. Also in April, ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator Claire Hammerton spoke at a panel event hosted by the UTS Law Students’ Society as part of the Gilbert and Tobin Speaker Series ‘Power and Compassion’. Mark Robinson SC, George Newhouse and Dr Hasantha Gunasekera joined her on the panel to share their experience and knowledge about Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum.
Latest news from Nauru
The situation in Nauru continues to deteriorate and ChilOut recently expressed its concerns about the children in Nauru detention to the Senate Committee inquiry into the ‘Conditions and Treatment of Asylum Seekers and Refugees at the Regional Processing Centres in the Republic of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’. Our submission provides a detailed insight into the appalling conditions and treatment that children face in the Nauru Detention Centre and the lack of government transparency and accountability. You can find a copy of our submission here.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) visited Nauru last week and, sadly, during the visit a 23-year-old refugee known as Omid set himself on fire in front of UNHCR staff. It was reported that the man later died in hospital in Brisbane. There also continue to be reports of children in Nauru self-harming and mental health declining. An article published in The Guardian entitled ‘Almost half of children returned from Nauru have mental illness, Senate told’ stated that mental illness even affects children long after they are released from detention and that the mental health impact of detention is more severe the longer children are in detention. With many children taking their first steps and speaking their first words in detention, it is frightening to think how these innocent babies will be affected potentially for the rest of their lives. Both adults and children at the Nauru Detention Centre continue to protest daily against their incarceration, holding up signs such as “Australia people open your hearts”.
Disturbingly, it has been confirmed that Zika Virus is present in Nauru. Zika Virus is spread through mosquitos and, if a woman is bitten while pregnant, can cause serious birth defects. It is believed there are currently seven pregnant refugee women on Nauru whose unborn children are at risk.
To take action, sign the #BringThemHere petition organised by GetUp and call for all children and adults in detention in Nauru and Manus Island to be brought to Australia and for the centres to close. Another way to take action is to write to your local MP to urge them to do everything they can to release all children from both onshore and offshore detention! You can also support ChilOut’s fight to end child detention by donating to us here.
Upcoming Events – Screening of ‘Chasing Asylum’

We are delighted to share that the film Chasing Asylum is about to hit screens across Australia. Directed by Academy Award winner Eva Orner, the film includes never-before-seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention centres. It starkly reveals the personal impact of sending people seeking asylum to languish in limbo in indefinite detention on Manus Island and Nauru. To watch the trailer for the film, click here. To buy tickets to a screening in your city click here. Chasing Asylum is screening in all major Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Alice Springs.

For the PDF Version http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/chilout/mailings/38/attachments/original/20160502_ChilOut_April_16_newsletter.pdf?1462174384

Newsletter for March 2016


Dear John,
ChilOut Youth Ambassador addresses UN Human Rights Council

Earlier this month, our incredible Youth Ambassador Mohammad Ali Baqiri travelled to Geneva on behalf of ChilOut to address the United Nations Human Rights Council. Mohammad spoke to the Council about Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum and told the Council that Australia needs to improve its human rights record and end the mandatory detention of people seeking asylum. He also spoke at a side event in Geneva on the plight of women and children seeking asylum in Australia and met with UN member states and key UN officials.
It was an incredible week for Mohammad who, after spending three years in a detention centre in Nauru as a child, is now about to graduate from a law degree. When asked about his trip, Mohammad said: “It was truly an amazing experience to be able to represent thousands of refugees and asylum seekers and be a voice for the voiceless. This journey has been the biggest achievement of my life so far.” Mohammad was interviewed about his trip on ABC News Breakfast TVABC radio and in The Guardian. We are so proud of all the work Mohammad is doing to raise awareness about children in detention. To support ChilOut’s work and give our Youth Ambassadors opportunities like this one, please consider donating to ChilOut. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
115 children in detention – we’re almost there but we need your help!
The number of children in detention is now close to 100 – it has not been this low for a very long time! According to the Government’s latest statistics, as at 29 February 2016 there were 65 children in detention facilities on the Australian mainland and 50 children in detention facilities in Nauru. Additionally, there are 289 children in community detention across Australia.  Thanks to everyone’s wonderful efforts and the pressure applied to the Government, the number of children in detention is continuing to drop.
We are now at a critical time in our mission to end child detention, particularly with the federal election fast approaching! We need your help to get to the finish line and there is a simple way that you can all help which will take less than 30 seconds. Though we already have your name and email address in our database, there are many of you for whom we do not have a postcode. This means we have no way of knowing which electorate you live in.  For this reason, we are kindly asking our supporters you to click on this link and enter your postcode in the ‘address’ box. By doing this, you will also go into the draw win one of five ChilOut ‘Kids Don’t Belong in Detention’ t-shirts!
Why is your postcode important to us? The reason is because ChilOut, along with partners at the End Child Detention Coalition, is working towards a strategy to end child detention, which involves engaging with local MPs, Senators and others. To do this effectively, we need to know which electorates our supporters live in, to know where the people are who care! For those who want to do more than simply give us a postcode, watch this space. We will update you soon about further actions you can take in the lead-up to the Federal election in order to get the remaining children out of detention. In the meantime, please click here and tell us your postcode.
#LetThemStay Campaign Update
It has been several weeks since the High Court handed down its decision allowing the Government to continue its offshore detention regime and send 267 people, including 91 children, back to Nauru. Since then we have seen thousands of Australians get together and take action to #LetThemStay. We know that many of our supporters have been involved in this campaign, so thank you for all your efforts! This campaign has been very effective – so far no one has been deported back to Nauru and we believe that all 91 children remain in Australia. We have loved seeing so many universities, workplaces, schools and places of worship saying #LetThemStay. To support our work and help keep these vulnerable children out of detention, please donate to ChilOut at www.chilout.org/donate.
What’s been happening around Australia?
On 20 March, approximately 50,000 people marched at Palm Sunday rallies across Australia. Thank you to everyone who joined these rallies. This was an amazing turnout to send a clear message to our politicians that we do not support their policies and want an end to mandatory detention. Many media outlets covered the rallies, including SBS TV who compiled this report. On the same day, children and families detained in Nauru held a protest of their own, seeking to draw attention to their suffering from being in detention in Nauru for around 1000 days.
Earlier in the month, Grandmothers Against the Detention of Refugee Children descended on Canberra dressed in purple to protest against children in detention. More than one hundred grandmothers from the group rallied outside and inside Parliament House in Canberra to send a strong message to our politicians that grandmothers do not support their policies. We are thankful for the work they continue to do – Australia has some incredible grandmothers!
Upcoming events
On the evening of Thursday 14 April, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights will host an event called: ‘the case for a royal commission into conditions in immigration detention’. The expert panel will include President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs, Dr Peter Young and ChilOut’s very own Mohammad Ali Baqiri. This event will be held in Sydney, starting at 6pm, and is a wonderful opportunity for Sydney-siders to see Mohammad speak about his personal experience of being detained in Nauru as a child. For more details of the event and to purchase tickets click here. We suggest you get in quickly as tickets are almost sold out!
An amazing group of supporters in the Shoalhaven area are hosting a fundraising event on the evening of Friday 6 May called #SingingforSanctuary. The event will be hosted at the Nowra School of Arts in Nowra and promises to be a fun-filled and lively night involving listening and dancing to local musical talents. All funds raised will be generously donated to ChilOut and the Asylum Seekers Centre. For more information and to buy tickets click here.
Raise money for ChilOut by joining a fun run!
Are you planning on participating in a fun run this year? Are you interested in raising money for a worthy cause? Why not grab your friends, have some fun and raise funds for ChilOut’s work to get children out of immigration detention. Go to http://www.chilout.org/fundraising for all the details.
These runs are coming up:
  • The Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon – 15 May 2016
  • The Sun Herald City 2 Surf – 14 August 2016
  • The Canberra Times Fun Run – 4 September 2016
If you sign up for an event and fundraise for ChilOut, send us an email at team@chilout.org and we will send you a free ChilOut t-shirt to get you motivated!

For a PDF version of the newsletter please click here
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention · Australia
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Newsletter for February 2016


Dear John,
#LetThemStay Campaign
There has been much media over the past month about the High Court decision, delivered on 3 February, which rejected a challenge made by a group of asylum seekers concerning the lawfulness of Australia’s offshore detention regime. By deciding that the Australian Government’s offshore detention system was lawful, the High Court effectively placed 267 asylum seekers at risk of being transferred back to Nauru. This group of asylum seekers were previously in detention in Nauru and were brought to Australia for medical reasons. Within this group, there are 91 children which includes 37 babies born in Australia.  Some of these children are living in the community in Australia. ChilOut issued a press release about this decision and spoke to several media outlets about our concerns regarding the harm caused to these children if they are sent back to detention in Nauru.
The #LetThemStay campaign has seen tens of thousands of people across Australia coming together to urge the Australian Government to let this group of 267 asylum seekers stay. It has been amazing to see so many community groups, work places, schools and churches speaking out against injustice and taking action to show their support for people seeking asylum! In an unprecedented move, premiers and chief ministers of almost every State and Territory publicly stated that they would resettle the asylum seekers and take full responsibility for their education, health, welfare and housing. This was a wonderful display of leadership and compassion. A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in this campaign! The fight is not over yet and we have provided some suggestions below about what you can do to help.
Baby Asha
There has also been much media in the past couple of weeks about the case of baby Asha, who was recently transferred from Nauru detention to Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane for the treatment of burns. The brave doctors at Lady Cilento Hospital took a stand and refused to discharge the baby back into detention. The Brisbane community rallied together outside the hospital, day and night, to make sure baby Asha was not transferred back. After a week of campaigning, Minister Dutton announced that baby Asha and her mother would be placed in community detention in Australia. While this is a positive start, unfortunately the Minister has since said that the baby and her mother will be moved back to Nauru once she has recovered.
Ways To Get Involved!
There are many ways that you get involved in the national #LetThemStay campaign:
  • Sign GetUp’s #LetThemStay petition
  • Join an event in your local area
  • Organise your own event and plug it here
  • Put a #LetThemStay sign outside your school, workplace or church. 
  • Write to or meet with your local federal MP and let them know that you want them to stand up against the detention of children.
Another way to help is to donate to ChilOut. Our fight to get children out of detention is not over yet and ChilOut is working hard every day to achieve this goal. Our work is made possible thanks to generous donations from people like you. Please consider making a donation to us here. All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible.           
OTHER NEWS
Update on Number of Children in Detention
According to the Government’s latest statistics dated 31 January 2016, there are 88 children held in detention facilities on the Australian mainland and 54 children held in Australian-run detention facilities in Nauru. A further 293 children are in community detention in Australia. Sadly, the average length of time that children are spending in detention centres has hit a record high, standing at one year and three months. Many children have been in detention for longer than this.
AHRC’S Report on Wickham Point Detention Centre
Earlier this month, the Australian Human Rights Commission released a damning report on their recent visit to Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin. At the time of their visit, there were 76 children held at the centre. The report revealed that 95% of children over eight years of age who had lived on Nauru (and were subsequently transferred to Wickham Point Detention Centre) were in the clinical range for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is deeply concerning, as many of these children are slated to be sent back to Nauru following the High Court ruling. This report also detailed day-to-day life at the detention centre, including that at 5am and 10pm every day Serco guards conduct a head count. One 9-year-old boy said: “I am scared in my room every night at 10pm when they walk and open the door for the head count. I think someone is going to take me away.”
Australian Medical Association Calls the Detention of Children Child Abuse
Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Brian Owler stated last week that prolonged detention of children is “state-sanctioned child abuse”. Professor Owler and the AMA have stated their support for the doctors in Brisbane in their actions to not discharge baby Asha in the harmful detention environment. The AMA does not support children being held in detention, and Professor Owler worries that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is “pulling apart the moral fabric of the country.” We are very thankful that Australian medical professionals are raising their voices and taking such a strong stance!
Our Youth Ambassadors Have Been Busy…
Our Youth Ambassadors were heavily involved in the #LetThemStay campaign this month, with Mohammad Ali Baqiri and Sarah Yahya speaking to thousands at #LetThemStay rallies in Sydney and Melbourne. It was an important opportunity for the wider community to hear the personal stories of our Youth Ambassadors about coming to Australia as refugees. Mohammad was also interviewed by Al Jazeera #StreamUpdate and Sarah was interviewed by SBS Radio for a special called ‘First Day’ in which she described her first day in Australia. Zoe Grant also spoke at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College last week about her advocacy work in standing up for the rights of children seeking asylum.
We are excited to share that we have received many amazing applications for ChilOut’s 2016 Youth Ambassador Program. Applications for this year’s program have now formally closed and we look forward to announcing our new Youth Ambassadors very soon!
Palm Sunday ‘Walk for Justice for Refugees’
We encourage our supporters to join us at this year’s Palm Sunday ‘Walk for Justice for Refugees’ rallies in cities around Australia on Sunday 20 March. The rallies will add to the growing community calls we have seen over the last month to let those asylum seekers in Australia stay here, but to also close the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island and end mandatory detention. Speakers at the Sydney rally will include Joel Shakespeare (former Save the Children worker on Nauru), Jessica Walker (Queensland Teachers Union, Yeronga High School & Save Mojgan campaign), Rev. Mwung Hwa Park (Uniting Church moderator NSW/ACT Synod) and Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition).
For all the details, and to invite your friends, go to the Facebook pages for the rally in your city:
Thank you for your continued support – we couldn’t do our work without you!

For a PDF version of the newsletter please click here

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
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Newsletter for January 2016
Dear John
Stop the Transfer of Children Back to NauruThe Minister for Immigration has announced that 72 children who are currently held in detention on the Australian mainland will be returned to Nauru. This comes just before the High Court is due to hand down its decision on Wednesday in the M68 case, which challenges the lawfulness of the Government sending asylum seekers to be processed offshore on Nauru and Manus Island. Among the group of children to be transferred back to Nauru are 37 Australian-born babies. The transfer of these children to Nauru will more than double the existing number of children in detention on Nauru, which currently stands at 68. ChilOut has spoken to some children at risk of being transferred back who are extremely anxious and fearful of this impending return. These children need your help.

To stop the transfer of children and their families back to the unsafe detention conditions in Nauru and Manus Island, GetUp and the Human Rights Law Centre have launched a campaign.  Please sign the petition here to stop the transfer of vulnerable children and tell the Prime Minister to #LetThemStay. The Sydney Morning Herald has just published an exclusive article on this slated transfer with photographs of the babies due to be transferred. In addition, the Refugee Action Coalition is holding a rally this Thursday 4 February at 12.30pm outside the Immigration Department at Lee Street, Sydney. Please see their Facebook page for more details.
Number of Children in Detention

ChilOut_infographic_Dec15.png

The average length of time that asylum seekers, including children, currently spend in detention is an astonishing 445 days. This is the longest average detention period since the Government took power in 2013 and is more than double the 200-day wait four years ago under the previous Labor Government. Click here to read more about this.

Mental State of Children in Detention worse than Adult DetaineesRecent information obtained by The Guardian Australia has revealed that children in detention suffer more serious mental health issues than adults. The detention health care provider IHMS has warned the immigration department that the detention of children causes long-term mental health damage that persists after they are released. In offshore detention, almost a quarter of children aged 5 to 17 who presented to a doctor between April and June 2015 were diagnosed with a mental health condition. This alarming statistic is double the rate of adults in detention diagnosed with a mental health condition, which stands at 11.6%. Additionally, in 2015, the rate of distribution of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications to patients in offshore detention increased by 150% compared to the previous year. Please click here for further information.

Abuse and Sexual Harassment of Children at Nauru Schools
Child refugees on Nauru have spoken out on video, through OPC Voice, about the physical violence and emotional abuse they are suffering in Nauruan schools. Approximately 35 children heartbreakingly spoke of being called ‘refugee’ in place of their names, as well as being punched by fellow schoolmates. Additional reports by the children say that students at the schools have threatened them with knives, with no respite provided by teachers, and children reporting being sworn at by local teachers. You can read more about it in this article.

Current and former children in detention in Nauru also spoke to CNN last week about the terrible living conditions on Nauru, both in the detention centre and in the Nauruan community. They spoke about the adverse impact this continues to have on their mental health. The CNN report also made mention of the allegations of physical and sexual abuse against children in Nauru and the inability of journalists to access the island to report on the situation. You can watch and read CNN’s report here.

Apply Now for our 2016 Youth Ambassador Program!Applications are still open for young people across Australia, aged between 16 and 24, to be part of ChilOut’s exciting Youth Ambassador Program. The program brings together Australian-born young people and former refugees to engage in a range of activities to help children in detention including visiting detention centres, communicating with children in detention, speaking to the media and politicians and giving presentations to the community. You can learn more about our annual Youth Ambassador Program by watching this short video. One of our wonderful 2015 Youth Ambassadors, Mohammad Ali Baqiri, recently spoke to Tom Ballard about his journey from Afghanistan to Australia, which included spending 3 years in detention in Nauru. You can listen to the interview here.

Applications for the 2016 Program close on Friday 19 February 2016. All the information about how to apply for the Program can be found on our website here. If you have any questions about the Program or would like to submit an application, please email us at: team@chilout.org.

Help make 2016 the year that ends child detentionWe are immensely grateful for all the support we received in 2015 and the support we have already received this year! One of the best ways you can contribute to ending the immigration detention of children is to make a one off or regular donation to ChilOut. You can do this through our website at: www.chilout.org/donate. Every dollar you donate allows us to continue our work to advocate for the rights of children seeking asylum to enable them to live healthy and free lives. All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
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Newsletter for December 2015


ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
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Dear Friend,
Thank You from ChilOut!As we near the end of 2015, we want to take this opportunity to thank all of our wonderful supporters. As a result of your generosity and support, our campaigning and community outreach has been bigger than ever this year and, importantly, the number of children in detention is less than it was a year ago.  Without you, we would not have been able to continue and expand our vital work fighting for the rights of children in immigration detention. We hope that you continue to support us in 2016 and that together we achieve our goal of ending the arbitrary and prolonged detention of children who come here seeking Australia’s protection.

We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended our comedy fundraiser nights in Melbourne on 29th November and Sydney on 17th December. Both nights were a huge success with packed theatres and non-stop laughs thanks to our talented comedians. We especially want to acknowledge and thank Terri Psiakis and Nadine von Cohen, two long-standing and very dedicated ChilOut supporters, who took the initiative to organise these fundraising events and spent long hours making sure each night was an enormous success. Our sincerest thanks also to the Howler Theatre in Melbourne, the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Sydney, and all of our hilarious comedians whose generosity meant that all the proceeds from the events were donated directly to ChilOut.

Help Us Make 2016 the Year All Children Are Out of DetentionChilOut is a very small community organisation and relies on the generosity of its committed volunteers and supporters to carry out its work. With the help of donations received over the past year, we have been able to expand our Youth Ambassadors Program, reinvigorate our schools speaking program and conduct greater numbers of meetings and follow-up communications with politicians seeking to convince them to bring about law and policy reform. However, we still have a long way to go until all children are released from detention. We also want the law changed so that children can never again be locked up indefinitely. We need your help to continue this work in 2016. Please support us by making a donation atwww.chilout.org/donate. All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible.

Current Situation for Children in Detention

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In last month’s newsletter, we informed you about the Bill initiated by Senator Hanson-Young that was passed in the Senate and mandated the release of all children from detention on the Australian mainland. However, the Bill needed to be passed by the House of Representatives to be made law and, unfortunately, when Federal Parliament broke for Christmas the Bill had still not been debated or passed in the House of Representatives. This means that the children who remain in immigration detention centres in Australia will not be released before Christmas. Christmas is an especially hard time for the children in detention. Though most children look forward to the holidays, for children in detention it is a part of the year they dread. Usually children in detention attend school during the day, but the holiday break means that they cannot leave the detention centres at all. Since Border Force took over this year, we have been told that children are not even allowed to leave detention centres for short day excursions, which were previously run by staff from local community groups.

Campaign to Mark the 25th Anniversary of Australia Ratifying the Child Rights Convention17 December 2015 marked 25 years since the Australian Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which sets out the basic rights that all children around the world are entitled to. Children in immigration detention are denied a staggering number of these rights and Australia is failing in its obligations to these children. ChilOut used an infographics campaign via social media to mark this anniversary and highlight how children who come to Australia seeking asylum are having their rights denied to them by the Australian Government every day. The campaign featured the voices of children who are currently in detention. For those who don’t follow ChilOut on social media, you can see all the infographics from this campaign on our website.

Applications Now Open for ChilOut’s 2016 Youth Ambassador Program!The year is nearly over which means ChilOut is searching for its 2016 Youth Ambassadors. Our annual Youth Ambassadors Program is an exciting and unique opportunity for young people aged between 16 and 24 to speak up against the detention of children. The Program involves former refugees and Australian-born young people coming together to advocate for the rights of children in immigration detention. Past Youth Ambassadors have visited detention centres, communicated with children in detention, given presentations about the issue at schools and community events, spoken to the media, and met with politicians to ask them to bring about positive change. This year’s Youth Ambassadors have been incredibly active and inspiring – you can learn more about their work by watching this shortvideo.

At the start of the Program, all Youth Ambassadors participate in a two-day training course in Sydney. If this sounds interesting to you or someone you know, please take a look at our website for more information. Applications close on Friday 19 February 2016 and all interested young people are invited to complete a short application form (located on our website) and submit a 1-2 page CV. If you have any questions about the Program or would like to submit an application, please email us at: team@chilout.org. The Program is proudly supported by the Planet Wheeler Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation (B B & A Miller Fund) and Mercy Foundation.

Intern at ChilOut in 2016ChilOut is looking for a university student to intern with us 1 to 2 days per week, commencing in early 2016. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator at ChilOut’s office in the Sydney CBD and will support our work to end child detention. We ask that you commit to working with us for a minimum of three months. Internship activities will include research, communications, contributing to our campaigns, helping to organise events, and drafting papers and submissions. This is a great opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children and would suit a student who is seeking to pursue a career in international or national advocacy work, community engagement, communications, social justice, human rights and/or law. If you are interested in applying, please email a copy of your CV and a cover letter explaining your interest to: team@chilout.org.

Again, we would like to thank all of you for your generous support over the past year and we wish you and your families a joyful holiday period and a safe and peaceful new year! 
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Newsletter for November 2015

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Dear Friend,
Help Us Get Children Out Before ChristmasBill has been passed in the Senate, initiated by Senator Hanson-Young, to release children from detention by Christmas. However, the Bill is now before the Government-controlled House of Representatives, which means it is now up to the Government to support the Bill and release children from detention before Christmas.  The Bill mandates the release of children from immigration detention in Australia into the community, unless a court specifically orders that a child’s release is not in the public interest. In addition to releasing children, the Bill also imposes mandatory reporting of abuse by detention centre staff to relevant independent authorities. You can read more about the Bill on Senator Hanson-Young’s FAQs webpage.

Join the huge chorus of people calling on the Prime Minister and Coalition MPs to support this Bill and release children from detention before Christmas! Please call, email, tweet: All #‎KidsOut by Christmas. We need to keep the pressure on now, before the Government quietly shelves the rights of children again. Our friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre have put together a neat guide for contacting the PM, including tips on what to say: http://www.asrc.org.au/campaigns/kidsout/. You can also go to ChilOut’s take action webpage for other ideas on how to make a difference: http://www.chilout.org/actions_to_take.

Current Situation for Children in Detention


Of the 112 children currently in detention on the Australian mainland, it was recently revealed in Senate Estimates that 80 of those children are due to be sent back to Nauru into harm’s way. We understand that almost all of these 80 children are currently held at Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin. We have spoken to many of these children and they have told us about their daily fear of being sent back to Nauru. Many of the children cannot sleep at night as they know that the transfers to Nauru often happen in the middle of the night. One of the children in detention recently wrote a letter about his experience in detention, which said “I wish I were dead in an ocean. At least I would die once in my life and not every second like I do in detention.”25 years ago Australia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, committing to uphold the rights of all children, no matter how they arrive in this country. However, children in immigration detention are suffering on a daily basis and are denied many of their basic human rights. To highlight Australia’s ongoing breaches of the Convention regarding children in detention, ChilOut will be releasing a series of infographics starting on 10 December using the voices of children in detention to demonstrate the multitude of rights they are being denied in detention. Stay tuned to social media for our infographics launch!

ChilOut Comedy Night - A Funny Night for an Unfunny CauseSydney supporters, be sure to keep Thursday 17 December free to see the cream of Sydney's comedy talent come together for a special one-off comedy extravaganza to raise much-needed funds for us! With an amazing line up of comedians, including Rove McManus, you are guaranteed to spend the whole night laughing as well as raising funds for us to continue our important work. We recently held a similar comedy fundraiser night in Melbourne, which was a roaring success!

The comedy night will start at 7.30pm at the Giant Dwarf Theatre at 199 Cleveland Street, Redfern. For further details please take a look at our flyer. Tickets are a steal for only $35 per person, but don’t delay booking as tickets are already selling quickly. To purchase tickets go to: http://giantdwarf.com.au/events/chilout/. All proceeds will go directly to ChilOut. If you are not able to make it to our comedy night, please consider making a donation to us. We are a tiny organisation and rely on your generous support to continue our fight to get children out of Australian-run immigration detention centres!

Come and intern with us in 2016ChilOut is looking for a university student to intern with us 1 to 2 days per week, starting in January/February 2016. The successful applicant will be working under the supervision of ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator, a human rights lawyer, to support our work to end child detention. Internship activities will include research, correspondence, campaign input, helping to organise events, and contributing to papers and submissions. This is a great opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children. This is a great (first) step for motivated students who are seeking to pursue a career in international or national advocacy work, communications and/or law.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, please email a copy of your CV and a cover letter explaining your interest in this role to: team@chilout.org.

ChilOut’s Latest ActivitiesAll of us at ChilOut have been exceptionally busy over the past month – especially our Youth Ambassadors! Amongst our many activities over the month, we ran workshops at the Catholic Schools Social Justice Day in Sydney, participated in UNHCR’s annual NGO consultations in Canberra, spoke at Transfield’s Annual General Meeting regarding their responsibility for abuses in detention centres, gave presentations at community gatherings and dinners and attended the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law’s Conference.

Applications will soon open for ChilOut’s 2016 Youth Ambassadors Program, so make sure you keep checking our website for updates! 
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Chilout Newsletter for September 2015


Dear John,
UN Special Rapporteur Postpones his Visit to Australia Due to Lack of SafeguardsThe United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, François Crépeau, announced on 25 September that he was forced to postpone his official visit to Australia due to the lack of full cooperation by the Australian Government. ChilOut is very disappointed by this development, especially as we were due to meet with Mr Crépeau in October to discuss the Australian Government’s treatment of children in detention. According to the latest statistics, there are still 197 children in Australian-run immigration detention centres, including:
  • 104 children in immigration detention facilities within the Australian mainland; and
  • 93 children in detention facilities in Nauru.
A press release issued by the Special Rapporteur explained that the 2015 Border Force Act, which provides sanctions for detention centre service-providers who disclose certain ‘protected information’ meant that people were discouraged from disclosing relevant information to him. He said: “This threat of reprisals with persons who would want to cooperate with me on the occasion of this official visit is unacceptable.”  You can read more about this here. Despite the fact that we are unable to meet with him on this occasion, ChilOut is in the process of finalising a written submission to the Special Rapporteur regarding our concerns about children in detention.

ChilOut’s September ActivitiesChilOut has been very active during the month of September - presenting at schools, giving interviews to the media and speaking at major events.  As part of our Schools Speaking Program, our Campaign Coordinator and Youth Ambassadors visited several schools in the past month speaking to more than a thousand students in total to raise awareness about the treatment of children who come to Australia seeking asylum. We want to thank International Grammar School (Sydney), Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College (Sydney), Parade College (Melbourne), and Meadow Heights Primary School (Melbourne) for having us. We hope to speak at many more schools in future!

In recent weeks, our inspiring Youth Ambassador Mohammad Ali Baqiri – who came to Australia by boat as a 10-year-old– gave a moving speech at the ‘Light the Dark’ Refugee Vigil in Melbourne and spoke passionately at a Nurses Against the Border Force Act event in Newcastle. An article about the ‘Light the Dark’ event can be found here. Our Campaign Coordinator gave the keynote address at the Sydney University Law School Social Justice Conference. We were also very active this month in our media engagement, especially in relation to the release of the report by the Senate Inquiry into Nauru on which we gave interviews to Al Jazeera TV, ABC Radio and 2SER Radio.

Latest NewsFollowing the commencement of the Border Force Act and the release of the Senate Inquiry’s Report into the Nauru Detention Centre, the New York Times has published a scathing article about Australia’s brutal treatment of asylum seekers. The article notes that an Australian Senate Inquiry found that children were being abused in the Nauru Detention Centre and stated that: “instead of stopping the abuses, the Australian government has sought to hide them from the world”.

In disturbing news, a 17-year-old Iranian asylum seeker with severe mental health problems is being threatened that she will be returned to detention in Nauru despite a psychiatrist’s recommendation against it due to the extreme risk of further deterioration in her health. The girl has allegedly been the subject of unwanted sexual advances by security staff at the detention centre. The psychiatrist’s report says that the girl has self-harmed and attempted suicide is “very very distressed” by her experience in Nauru. She has written to the Immigration Minister pleading that she and her family not be sent back to the detention centre. You can read more about this disturbing story here.

In more positive news, our wonderful campaign coordinator, Claire Hammerton, has been recognised as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence for 2015. We are thrilled to see her hard work and dedication acknowledged in this way. 100 winners were selected in 10 categories, including board and management, social enterprise, business enterprise, public policy, innovation, diversity, young leader, global, local/regional and culture. The list was chosen by a 10-member judging panel. Read more about it here.

Upcoming Refugee RallyOn 11 October 2015, there will be Stand Up for Refugees Rallies in Sydney (Town Hall), Brisbane(Brisbane Square, CBD), Melbourne (State Library) and Canberra (Garema Place). These rallies have been endorsed by a range of organisations, including ChilOut, and we strongly encourage our supporters to attend. If you live in one of these cities or you happen to be close by, please join us in raising our voices for the children in immigration detention. ChilOut Youth Ambassador, Mohammad Ali Baqiri, will also be speaking at the Melbourne rally.

How You Can HelpChilOut has received tremendous support over the past month, including from an incredible group of musicians who held a concert in Melbourne on 19 September to raise funds for ChilOut. The musicians raised almost $2,500 for ChilOut and performed without any electrical instruments or amplification to highlight the powerless of children in detention, saying: “for one day we will be as powerless as these kids”. We also want to thank all our other amazing September fundraisers and donors, particularly our friends at Rural Australians for Refugees Bellingen and Nambucca who hold a regular market stall to raise funds for ChilOut and Ripponlea Kinder who held a gold coin donation dress up day to raise much-needed funds for us. We could not do what we do without your support!

As many of our supporters already know, ChilOut is a tiny organisation with extremely limited resources. We rely on support from people like you to enable us to continue our fight to end child detention. We have many projects and campaigns in the pipeline for the remainder of 2015, but we need your support to make these happen! Please donate to us today at: www.chilout.org/donate. All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible.
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Chilout Newsletter for August 2015


ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

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Dear John,

Senate Inquiry Releases Report on Nauru Abuse

On Monday, the Senate Inquiry into Nauru released its report revealing shocking information about the abuses against children in detention in Nauru. You can access the full report here.  A total of 67 cases of physical and sexual abuse against children were revealed by the Inquiry, which included 30 cases of abuse by detention centre staff. There has been a stark lack of accountability in relation to these abuses against children, with not a single person being charged or convicted.
ChilOut released a media statement about the report highlighting that all children in detention in Nauru face a high risk of abuse. Our Campaign Coordinator Claire Hammerton said “ChilOut believes that there are many more cases of child abuse than what was revealed in the Senate Inquiry. We know of children who have not reported sexual abuse by detention centre staff due to reasons including cultural sensitivities, fear of adverse consequences for reporting and a belief that reporting is useless because no action will be taken. All children deserve to be free and grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Children in immigration detention are no less deserving of this than children living in the Australian community.”
ChilOut has called for all children to be removed from the Nauru detention centre and brought back to Australia as a matter of urgency. We have also called for the Government to stop the slated transfer of children to Nauru who are currently in immigration detention in Australia. Our Youth Ambassador, Mohammad Ali Baqiri, spoke to ABC Radio about the horrific experience of being in detention and about his hope that all children are soon released.
ChilOut Visits Darwin Detention Centre
In August, ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator and Youth Ambassadors travelled to Darwin to visit children at Wickham Point Detention Centre and present a workshop at a Youth Human Rights Summit. Unfortunately, ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors were not granted access to the detention centre before leaving Darwin. However, ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator was given access (after extending her stay in Darwin) and visited several families who were all temporarily transferred to Wickham Point Detention Centre from Nauru. She met with children ranging in age from two weeks to 17 years and was deeply concerned by the information provided to her by families and by the overall mental health state of the children and parents she met with. These concerns included:
  • Most families had spent more than two years in detention and were feeling increasingly hopeless about ever being released from detention. Many children were depressed, suicidal and some had engaged in self harm;
  • Some children had survived sexual abuse in Nauru and knew of other children who had experienced sexual violence in Nauru and had not reported it;
  • All families spoke about the abhorrent conditions in Nauru including: living in tents with up to 12 other families in extreme heat and humidity with no air conditioning; mould growing on tents and tents leaking when it rained; unhygienic toilets and wash facilities including lack of toilet paper and toilets being out of order; long waiting periods to receive medical care and insufficient mental health care, particularly for children;
  • Every child expressed fear of being sent back to Nauru. All families had all been told they would eventually be sent back and many children could not sleep at night due to fear of being forcibly transferred in the middle of the night, as other asylum seekers had been;
  • Although many families said that detention in Darwin was preferable to detention in Nauru, there were major issues reported with the conditions at Wickham Point Detention Centre such as lack of play, recreational or other appropriate facilities for children under 5 years.
ChilOut will continue advocating for the release of children from detention in Australia and Nauru until every last child is free. Part of our work involves educating the community and raising awareness and, whilst in Darwin, ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors were grateful to have the opportunity to run an interactive workshop on children in detention as part of the UN Youth and MyNT Human Rights Summit. The workshop was presented to high school students based in Darwin who were very engaged on the topic and expressed a strong desire to take action to help children in detention.
Number of Children in Detention 
Despite the Government’s promise that children would be released from detention in the early months of 2015, there are still over 200 children in Australian-run immigration detention centres. Many of these children have been in detention for years. According to the latest official statistics there are:
  • 118 children in immigration detention centres in the Australian mainland; and
  • 87 children in immigration detention in Nauru.
Kidz4Kidz Video
The wonderful students from Mount St Benedict High School who started the Kidz4Kidz initiative have produced a powerful to video to highlight the plight of children in detention and ensure their voices are not silenced. Their video has received over 60,000 views and is definitely worth checking out! ChilOut supports the fantastic work of Kidz4Kidz and will work with them to fight for the release of children in detention.
Concert to for Raise Money Children in Detention
On Saturday 19 September, a group of Melbourne-based musicians and musical acts will come together to raise money for children in detention. To draw attention to the plight of children in detention and the powerlessness of these children, the musicians will perform without any amplification or powered instruments. The concert will be held at Northcote Uniting Church Hall located at 251 High Street, Northcote Victoria. You can find further details here. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. All proceeds will be generously donated to ChilOut and we encourage everyone to go along and give their support to this fabulous group of musicians!
Thank You to Recent Fundraisers
A big thank you to all the runners and their families who ran the 14km City2Surf race on 9 August to raise money for ChilOut. We are so grateful for your support. A special shout out also goes to Sophie Bray who individually raised $2,235 for ChilOut! Thank you Sophie for your incredible support and for raising your voice loudly and clearly for children in immigration detention.
ChilOut is a very small organisation with limited resources and we rely on people like you to help us to continue our fight to end child detention. We have many projects and campaigns in the pipeline to help children in detention and we need your support to make these happen. Please donate to us at: www.chilout.org/donate. All donations over $2 are fully tax-deductible.
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Chilout Newsletter for July 2015
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

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Dear John,
Thank You to Our Supporters!
Thank you to all of our generous supporters who donated to our End of Financial Year Appeal.  Due to your support and the support of some wonderful organisations including Planet Wheeler Foundation, Australian Communities Foundation, Mercy Foundation and John Connolly and Partners, we will be able to implement many of our exciting plans over the next twelve months. We are also pleased to announce that, for the first time ever, we have a full-time staff member – our Campaign Coordinator Claire is now with us on a full-time basis! Our plans for the coming year include:
  • Hosting a campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of Australia’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to highlight Australia’s multiple breaches of the convention;
  • Developing powerful performance pieces based on the personal stories of child asylum seekers to be delivered to schools and community groups; and
  • Expanding on our 2015 Youth Ambassadors Program to ensure our Youth Ambassadors have more opportunities to speak at schools, engage with the wider community and build positive relationships with federal politicians to achieve our goal of ending child detention
We would also like to say a special thank you to two very dedicated supporters, Nadine von Cohen and Sophie Bray, who have been fundraising for ChilOut through Every Day Hero. Nadine recently reached her target of $5,000 by ‘doing nothing’ for children in detention and even managing to get publicity from the Daily Mail in the process! Meanwhile, the energetic Sophie has been raising funds and awareness in her local community in Northern NSW including being interviewed on local radio. Sophie has already raised $2,145 for ChilOut and needs another $2,855 to reach her target. With less than one week to go, please help Sophie reach her goal by donating here.
Everyone who donated to ChilOut over the past year should have received a tax receipt, but if we have accidently missed you and you haven’t received one yet please contact team@chilout.org.
ChilOut Welcomes Imogen Bailey as Ambassador and Mentor
ChilOut is thrilled to welcome Imogen Bailey, actor and activist, as a ChilOut Ambassador and Mentor. Imogen is long-time advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and is committed to working closely with ChilOut to end the prolonged and arbitrary detention of children. As Imogen says so eloquently, “Children seeking asylum are not a number and should never be manipulated for political purposes. First and foremost they are children and all children must be treated in accordance with the minimum standards set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Imogen recently joined us for our Day of Action in Canberra where she spoke passionately about the issue of children in detention, which you can watch here. She was also interviewed this week on Channel 7’s the Daily Edition where she spoke about her work with ChilOut.
Number of Children Still in Detention 
According to the Government’s latest statistics dated 30 June 2015, there are:
  • 127 children in immigration detention facilities within the Australian mainland; and
  • 88 children in immigration detention facilities in Nauru.
Despite the Government’s promise to release children by the early months of this 2015, the number of children in detention has virtually remained stagnant for the past four months. Many of these children have been held in detention for years and, appallingly, it was recently reported that one child has been in detention for 1,113 days.
Senate Inquiry into Abuses in Nauru and other Nauru News
The Senate’s inquiry into allegations of abuses in the detention centre in Nauru continued in July. The evidence that has been received reveals many disturbing facts in relation to children and their lack of safety in the detention centre in Nauru. It is clear that the centre is a dangerous environment for children and that their basic needs are not being met. Details also emerged at the Senate Inquiry’s most recent hearing that, despite a total of 30 allegations of sexual abuse by centre staff against children, not a single staff member has been charged.
Despite the horrific evidence of abuses against children revealed by the Senate Inquiry, children and their families in detention in the Australian mainland continue to be transferred to Nauru. In July, it was reported that up to 40 asylum seekers, including children and families, were forcibly removed from Darwin’s Wickham Point Detention Centre to Nauru. Meanwhile, the media has reported that a child in Nauru suffered tuberculosis for three months before a test was ordered, demonstrating the lack of heath care available in Nauru. There are also concerns about the level of education provided to children detained in Nauru, with reports that the Australian Government will send children to local Nauruan schools, despite the unclear child protection framework at these schools.
Youth Ambassadors Program
Our wonderful 2015 Youth Ambassadors continue to inspire and be important voices for more than 200 children remaining in Australian-run immigration detention centres. Two of our Youth Ambassadors, Mohammad Ali Baqiri and Sarah Yahya, who came to Australia as refugees recently told their stories at our Day of Action to End Child Detention. You can learn more about the stories of Mohammad and Sarah in videos made by the talented Emma Davies.
ChilOut was also proud to learn that one of this year’s Youth Ambassadors, Wathnak Vy, from Adelaide has been nominated for the Pride of Australia award, which recognises those members of the community who have inspired others through their actions. Congratulations Wathnak!
Our devoted Youth Ambassadors are currently developing a ‘schools speaking program’ and materials for visiting schools to give presentations in terms 3 and 4 this year.  There will be more information provided about this in coming weeks, but if your school is interested in having our Youth Ambassadors visit, please contact ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator Claire at team@chilout.org.
Support ChilOut in the City to Surf 
Are you a runner (or walker) and interested in raising funds for ChilOut at the City to Surf? It’s not too late to enter this year’s Sun-Herald City to Surf and be part of ‘Team ChilOut’ to raise much-needed funds for our campaigns and projects. This year’s 14km race will be held on Sunday 9August. You can sign up to join our City to Surf team or donate to our runners here. Our team has already raised an impressive $950 and only needs a further $1,050 to reach its target! 
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Chilout newsletter for June 2015


ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

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Dear John,

Free the Children in Refugee Week


As part of Refugee Week, ChilOut travelled to Canberra with members of the Australian Coalition to End Immigration Detention of Children. On Monday 15 June – the Free the Children Day of Action – we displayed our cage installation on the Parliament House lawns. Members of the public and parliamentarians were invited to free one of the 231 dolls from the cage as a symbol of freeing a child from detention. ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator, Claire Hammerton, and two ChilOut Youth Ambassadors, Mohammad Ali Baqiri and Sarah Yahya, were keynote speakers at the event, along with actor and activist Imogen Bailey. Check out our short clip of highlights, including extracts from the stories of our inspiring Youth Ambassadors who came to Australia as child refugees.

During the week we had frank and promising discussions with several key politicians from all the major and minor parties, including Senator Madigan, Senator Lazarus, Richard Marles MP, Senator Sinodinos, Melissa Parke MP, Anne Burke MP, Craig Laundy MP, Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Russell Broadbent MP and Senator Hanson-Young.  We also received great media coverage. Our Campaign Coordinator and Youth Ambassadors were interviewed by: ABC, Network 10, Canberra TimesSydney Morning HeraldThe Age, ABC Radio National, Triple J Radio, 2SM, 2GB and 2SER. Thank you to everyone involved and all our supporters - an incredible and worthwhile event!

Why are children still in detention?According to the latest statistics from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, as at 31 May 2015 there are:
  • 138 children in immigration detention facilities within Australia;
  • 81 children in detention facilities in Nauru; and
  • 863 children living in community detention.
Did you miss our very own Youth Ambassador Mohammad Ali Baqiri on ABC’s Q & A Program on 15 June? He shared his story of being detained in Nauru as a child and asked the panel why children were still in detention. See Mohammad’s question and the panel’s answer here. We need to keep asking this question until no more children are held in immigration detention!

Babies transferred to Nauru and snap rally tonightBaby Asha, born in Darwin this year, was secretly transferred to the Nauru detention centre in the middle of the night with no warning given to her parents. Since the transfer, Asha and her parents have been living in a tent in unsafe and horrific conditions for an adult, let alone a tiny baby. We also know that at least one other baby born in Australia was recently transferred to Nauru. Despite the lack of proper facilities in Nauru, up to 17 more babies born in Australia are due to be transferred to Nauru in the near future.

In conjunction with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, ChilOut is supporting a peaceful rally at Sydney Square (next to the Town Hall) tonight at 5:30pm to call for Baby Asha to be brought back to Australia and for no more babies to be sent to Nauru. Come and join us or support us via social media using the hashtag #bringbackasha. Find more details about the event here. More than 80 children currently detained in Australia and slated for transfer to Nauru. Unless we take action, more will be sent into harm’s way. ChilOut continues to reiterate the call, both publicly and to MPs and Senators, that no child should be sent to Nauru and that all children currently in detention in Nauru should be brought to the Australian mainland as a matter of urgency.

Further sexual assault allegations and imprisonment for reportingWhile the Government has stated that it accepts all the recommendations made by the Moss Review, allegations of sexual assault in Nauru detention centre have continued to emerge. Children are still detained on Nauru despite this mounting evidence, including one allegation that a child as young as two years old was abused.

To make matters worse, a bill has been pushed through Parliament that prevents anyone working in a detention centre from speaking publicly about what they see. From July, contracted workers including doctors, teachers and other professionals could face up to two years in prison for publicly revealing the inadequate medical treatment provided to asylum seekers in detention. Two doctors, including children’s doctor Professor David Isaacs who has spent time in Nauru, have spoken to the media and used a prestigious medical journal to protest against these repressive laws.

ChilOut End of Financial Year AppealWe are so appreciative of the support we receive for the work we do! One of the best ways you can help end children in detention is to make a donation to us via our website – either as a one-off donor or a regular supporter. Donations over $2 are tax deductible so with only hours until the end of financial year, please make a donation now at: www.chilout.org/donate.

Are you a runner (or walker) and interested in raising funds for ChilOut at this year’s City to Surf? Please join our City to Surf team for this year’s run on 9 August and help us raise much-needed funds to end child detention. You can sign up to join our City to Surf team or donate to our runners here.
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention · Australia
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Chilout Newsletter for May 2015 (received 1 June 2015)


ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
http://www.chilout.org/Follow on TwitterFriend of Facebook
Dear John,

Free the Children Canberra Event & National Day of Action on June 15
The End Child Detention Coalition’s Free the Children action has been touring the country for the past 12 months collecting thousands of signed postcards demanding respect for the rights of more than 200 children who are still locked up in detention centres run by the Australian Government. ChilOut is one of the lead members of the End Child Detention Coalition, which was formed in 2012 to advocate for the release of children from immigration detention facilities. Now the Coalition’s Free the Children action is coming to Parliament House in Canberra!
We are inviting all of you to get involved in our National Day of Action on June 15, to kick off World Refugee Week. We are asking everyone to amplify the growing chorus across Australia that innocent children do not deserve to be locked up. Those in Canberra are invited to come and free a doll from our cage installation on Parliament House Lawn from 10am - 4pm. A short program will take place at 2pmthat will include actor and activist Imogen Bailey and ChilOut’s campaign coordinator Claire Hammerton. Two of ChilOut’s amazing 2015 Youth Ambassadors, Mohammad Ali Baqiri and Sarah Yahya, will also be speaking at the event. For more details, please see our event flyer.
Others around the country are invited to run their own action and participate in our coordinated social media thunderclap. You can further contribute to the National Day of Action by using the hashtag #FreeTheChildren on June 15.

Latest Information on Children in Detention
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP) latest published statistics, as of 30 April 2015 there were:
  • 127 children in immigration detention facilities within Australia;
  • 95 children in detention facilities in Nauru;
  • 1,092 living in community detention; and
  • 3,004 children living in the community on bridging visas.
However, recent information provided by DIBP during the Senate Estimates hearings last week revealed that as of 25 May 2015, there were 136 children in detention facilities in Australia. The DIBP also said that 88 children currently detained in Australia are due to be transferred to Nauru in the near future. It was also revealed during the Senate Estimates hearings that the average length of time that children are currently spending in detention is 345 days. Disturbingly, it was revealed that one child has been in detention for almost five years.

Senate Inquiry into Abuses in Nauru
Following the release of the Moss Report in March, a Senate Inquiry was established to further investigate the allegations of physical and sexual abuse in the detention facilities in Nauru. ChilOut made a submission to the Inquiry in which we outlined the unacceptable risk of physical and emotional harm involved in keeping children in detention in Nauru. In our submission we called for the immediate relocation of all children from detention in Nauru into the Australian community.
The public hearings held by the Senate Inquiry in late May revealed shocking accounts of sexual assault and squalid living conditions. The detention centre managers who appeared at the public hearing were unable to answer many key questions. The Senate Inquiry is due deliver its final report on 15 June 2015. Meanwhile, in the recent Senate Estimates hearings it was revealed that there have been 15 allegations of sexual assault and 270 reports of other types of assault in immigration detention centres in the past three months, including two cases involving children.

Department Referred to Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
It was recently reported in the media that the Royal Commission into child sex abuse is investigating the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in relation to children who have been abused in Australian immigration detention centres. However, the scope of the Royal Commission’s inquiry will not extend to Nauru. The Department has confirmed in recent weeks that it is being investigated by the Royal Commission and that it is about to be issued with a ‘notice to produce’ to hand over documents. The Department is the first federal agency to be examined by the Royal Commission regarding allegations of sexual abuse.

Royal Australasian College of Physicians Speak Out Against Children in Detention
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), after seeing first-hand the appalling healthcare standards for asylum seekers, has released its first position statement on refugee and asylum seeker health which includes a section on children and families. A spokesperson for the RACP described the Government’s policies as “inhumane” and said that health professionals were especially concerned about children. In an article in the Guardian on the RACP position statement, consultant paediatrician Professor David Isaacs said that doctors were left mentally scarred after treating children and parents in Nauru. “The people there are in such distress and we saw children as young as six self-harming – I’d never seen that before in my entire life,” he said.

How Can You Help ChilOut?
Although ChilOut is one of the leading organisations in Australia fighting to end child detention, we are a very under resourced organisation with only one part-time staff member running all of our campaigns and programs. ChilOut is heavily reliant on individual financial support to continue our work. For this reason, one of the best ways to help ChilOut is to donate to us. You can make a one-off donation or sign up to be a regular supporter. ChilOut also has deductible gift recipient status, which means that every donation you make to ChilOut over $2 is tax deductible! 
If you cannot donate funds yourself, another incredible way to help us end child detention is to fundraise for us. A few of our amazing supporters have done just that including the brave Hannah who shaved her head for ChilOut, the awesome Daniel who ran the Canberra Marathon for us and the magnificent Sophie who is currently registered on Everyday Hero and has died her hair blue to raise awareness of children detention and raise funds for us!
If you’re running the City to Surf this year in August, why not join #TeamChilOut on #EverydayHero and help us raise much-needed funds. You can sign up to join our City to Surf team or donate to our wonderful runners here.

ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention · Australia
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_________________________________________________________
Chilout Newsletter for April 2015 (received 3 May 2015)


ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
http://www.chilout.org/Follow on TwitterFriend of FacebookDear John,


Call for Moratorium on Transfers, Youth Ambassadors and Senate Submission

ChilOut calls for moratorium on offshore transfers
ChilOut joined 123 other organisations in calling on the Government to immediately halt all transfers of asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island, including a five-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of her time in detention.
The joint statement, coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia and DASSAN (Darwin Asylum Seeker Support & Advocacy Network) argued that the return of asylum seekers to offshore detention centres risked exposing them to “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.”
Amongst those slated for transfer to Nauru are at least eleven babies who were born after 4 December 2014. Legislation was passed late last year that granted a reprieve for a small number of babies born in Australia. However all those born after the December cut-off date, including those with medical conditions, are due to be deported.
The independent Moss Review, established in October last year to investigate allegations of sexual and physical assault of asylum seekers, including children, found that 17 children had self-harmed in a one-year period due to extreme trauma. In a 2014 inquiry into children in detention, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that “children detained indefinitely on Nauru are suffering from extreme levels of physical, emotional, psychological and developmental distress.” It concluded that Australia’s transfer of children to Nauru is in breach of several articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
ChilOut strongly advocates against the detention of children in both onshore and offshore facilities. However, the lack of transparency, the inadequate education and healthcare facilities, and the lack of a child protection framework on Nauru means that those transferred to an offshore detention centre are highly vulnerable to abuse and trauma.

ChilOut welcomes new Youth Ambassadors
In April, ChilOut welcomed 9 new Youth Ambassadors to take part in this year’s Youth Ambassadors Program. The young people, aged between 17 and 23, came together in Sydney for a two-day training program to learn more about the plight of children in detention, as well as learning more about advocacy, public speaking and dealing with the media. For some of those attending, who have a lived experience of detention, it was also an opportunity to share their personal stories with the others in the group.
The ChilOut Youth Ambassadors program, generously supported by the Planet Wheeler Foundation, is an opportunity for young people around Australia to be part of the fight for releasing all children from immigration detention. The aim of the program is to empower young people to raise their voices and work towards ensuring that no children are held in detention and that all young asylum seekers and refugees are given the rights and opportunities they are entitled to.
You can learn more about our new Youth Ambassadors by visiting the ChilOut website.

Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015
In a recent submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, ChilOut argued that the Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities Bill posed grave risk of further undermining the rights of child asylum seekers.
ChilOut noted that the proposed legislation (which is currently being debated in the Senate) will expose children to an “unacceptably high risk of physical and mental harm.” The Bill, in its current form, also infringes Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe that the Bill’s provisions allowing for the “use of force against children indicates a disregard of the special protection needs of children outlined in Article 19 of the Convention.”
The Bill has been widely criticised by refugee advocates, who argue that the legislation will allow for an unprecedented use of unnecessary force against those in detention centres. With the lack of transparency around operations in offshore detention centres in particular, ChilOut remain deeply concerned about the safety of young people and their families should this Bill be passed.

Palm Sunday rallies around the country
On 29 March, tens of thousands took to the streets around Australia in support of a more just and compassionate treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
In Perth, author Tim Winton gave a stirring speech, calling on those in attendance to search their souls for the truth: “We're here to reflect. To hold ourselves to account. We didn't come here today to celebrate power or to hide in its privileged shadow. We're here to speak for the powerless. We're not here to praise the conventions of the day, but to examine them and expose them to the truth. We're not here to reinforce the status quo. We gather to dissent from it. To register our dismay at it. We're here to call a spade a spade, to declare that what has become political common sense in Australia over the past 15 years is actually nonsense. And not just harmless nonsense; it's vicious, despicable nonsense.  For something foul is festering in the heart of our community, something shameful and rotten.”
In Sydney, the Walk for Justice was held in April due to a clash with the State elections in March. ChilOut volunteers and supporters were out in force as over 3,000 people braved the elements to voice their concerns about current Government policy. You can view a selection of photos from the Sydney rally here.

ChilOut on social media
Are you following ChilOut on Facebook and Twitter? One of the easiest ways to stay up to date with the work of the ChilOut team is to ‘Like’ our Facebook page. We will let you know about our latest actions and campaigns, and ensure you are notified of important news pertaining to the rights of child asylum seekers and refugees. We also share resources from Australia and around the world that you can use to learn more about kids in detention, and what Australia can and should be doing to protect the rights of all young people.

What can you do to help?
ChilOut receive emails on a daily basis from our wonderful supporters and concerned citizens around the country asking the simple question, “What can I do to help?”
While the instinct to provide material goods is very strong, one of the challenges is ensuring that gifts are delivered to children who need them most. Recently, thousands of people were disheartened when they learned that letters they had prepared for asylum seekers in detention were returned unopenedafter the delivery had been blocked by the Department for Immigration & Border Protection.

With that in mind, one of the best ways to join the fight to end child detention is to become a regular supporter of ChilOut’s work. You can sign up to make a donation on our website. Every dollar you donate will go directly towards ensuring that the rights of vulnerable child asylum seekers and refugees in Australia are protected, and the fight to end child detention can continue.
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention · Australia
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Chilout Newsletter for March 2015 (received April 2015)
ChilOut - Children out of immigration detention

ChilOut - Children Out of Immigration Detention
http://www.chilout.org/Follow on TwitterFriend of FacebookDear John,


Youth Ambassadors, Moss Report & Breaking News

2015 ChilOut Youth Ambassadors chosen

ChilOut received a large number of very impressive applications for its 2015 Youth Ambassadors Program and, from this pool of applicants, we have chosen 9 amazing young people to be our 2015 Youth Ambassadors. Some of our Youth Ambassadors came to Australia as asylum seekers while others were born in Australia. All of them share the same desire to raise their voice against the detention of innocent children and see a positive change to Government law, policy and practice concerning vulnerable children who seek protection in Australia. ChilOut will be holding a training weekend for our Youth Ambassadors in the next few weeks. Keep your eye on ChilOut’s website and future newsletters for more information about our 2015 Youth Ambassadors and the important work they will be doing with ChilOut throughout the year!

Update on Children in Detention - 240 still held
The number of children in detention has been decreasing over recent months and, according to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s latest statistics, dated 28 February 2015, there are:
  • 133 children held in immigration detention facilities within Australia; and
  • 107 children held in immigration detention facilities on Nauru.
The Government has indicated that it will continue to release children from detention facilities within Australia, but maintains that the children held in detention on Nauru are not part of its promised release, and that it takes no responsibility for these children. ChilOut will continue to fight until there is no child left in detention, including on Nauru, and will continue its work until legislation is amended to ensure that children are never able to be locked up in future.

Breaking News - Senior Doctor speaks out against treatment of children on Nauru
Professor David Isaacs, Senior Staff Specialist at Westmead Children’s Hospital, has just published a scathing editorial describing his experiences as a consultant for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) working on Nauru. Professor Isaacs explains that: “We were utterly appalled by the Nauru Processing Centre, a prison camp except in name, which was situated in the centre of the island where it was hottest and most humid. Living conditions were Spartan. Asylum seekers lived in lines of adjoining tents without privacy or running water …. The children we saw had a variety of stress-related behaviour problems and somatic complaints. We saw examples of self-harm, the most chilling being a 6-year-old girl with strangulation marks from a fence-tie, whom we referred urgently to the visiting child psychiatrist.”
Professor Isaacs has joined with leading paediatricians working in refugee child health to publish a paper in the April issue of the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health on The Forgotten Children report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The paediatricians commended the AHRC on its report, and urged bipartisan support to end mandatory immigration detention, expedite the release of people seeking asylum from detention, and implement the Inquiry’s recommendations.

Latest News
Australian peak health groups unite in statement on ending child detention
Australia’s peak health groups have come together in a joint statement to call on the Australian Government to immediately release all children and their families from immigration detention in Australia and Nauru. The health groups highlighted the long-lasting harm that is caused to children by holding them in closed detention facilities. The bodies that made this call included the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Australian Medical Association and the Public Health Association of Australia.

Arrests of Asylum Seekers and Refugees on Nauru
Several days of unrest on Nauru led to the arrest of 186 refugees who have been resettled in the community on the tiny island. The refugees were protesting the conditions on Nauru and Australia's refusal to resettle them. Many of those arrested were part of family groups, with several unaccompanied children taken into custody. ChilOut has consistently expressed concern over the plight of those resettled on Nauru, particularly a vulnerable group of 28 unaccompanied children, who have been subject to physical and verbal attacks since their release from detention.

Moss Report finally released 
The unrest on Nauru foreshadowed the release of the long-awaited Moss Review into recent allegations relating to conditions and allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the detention centre on Nauru. A heavily redacted version of the report, released late afternoon on Friday 20 March 2015, detailed evidence of several rapes and the sexual assault of minors. The former integrity commissioner Phillip Moss, who led the investigation, also raised concerns that many incidents were under-reported because detainees were worried it would jeopardise their refugee status. 19 recommendations were made in the Moss report, two of which concerned the rights of vulnerable children:
  • Recommendation 5: The Department liaise with the Government of Nauru to ensure that child protection issues are reflected in the work currently being done on the Nauruan criminal code.
  • Recommendation 6: The Department and the contracted service providers continue to work with the Nauruan Government to ensure that a robust child protection framework is developed.
ChilOut is deeply disturbed that after detaining children on Nauru for two years, there is still no child protection framework in place to protect the young people detained as well as those in the community. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a party, is very clear: the best interests of each child must be foremost in any policy decisions. We firmly believe that detention is never in the best interests of child asylum seekers, but especially not in remote offshore centres where the safety and welfare of children is so blatantly ignored.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture condemns Australia for treatment of children seeking asylum
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, has delivered a report in which he has condemned Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. He stated that the Australian Government had violated the rights of asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by failing to "provide adequate detention conditions; end the practice of detention of children; and put a stop to the escalating violence and tension at the regional processing centre.” Rather than taking heed of these findings, Prime Minister Abbott criticised the UN and described the findings as “absolutely bizarre”.

Support ChilOut
Marathons and other sporting events
Are you running the Sydney City to Surf this year? Join #‎TeamChilOut on #‎EverydayHero and help us raise much needed funds! Sign up now to become one of the first 12 supporters to get a ChilOut t-shirt! (We can't guarantee your size, but first in gets the most choices). If you're running other marathons or sporting events you can also help. Just sign up with #EverydayHero, join Team ChilOut and start asking friends and family to sponsor you! If running isn’t your thing, please consider supporting others. The incredible Daniel is subjecting to himself to the grueling Canberra Marathon to raise money for ChilOut. He is aiming to raise $1,000 and needs another $580 to reach his target. To support Daniel, please go here.

‘Shave for a cause' for ChilOut
In a first for ChilOut, our wonderful and brave supporter Hannah has decided to go bald for children in detention! Hannah has already raised almost $1,000 for ChilOut and once she reaches $2,000 she will shave her head. Please help Hannah reach her target by donating here.

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