Children in detention
Letter to the Editor - The Canberra Times
24 March 2005
Claims that two children were snatched from a classroom by immigration staff are misleading (Sorry state of kid-snatching, Canberra Times, 19/3/05).
Immigration staff attended the school after the mother asked to see her children following her detention.
They were dressed casually, drove an unmarked sedan and went to the reception. They then met with the principal and explained the purpose of the visit. The principal left the room and returned with the two children with their bags packed.
The two immigration staff, a man and a woman, explained to the children what was happening and that they were about to be reunited with their mother. It was also explained that they would return to their home first to pack clothes and any relevant papers.
The children guided the staff to their house and appeared happy and cooperative.
The number of cases where staff have to enter school premises is small.
We are acutely aware of the sensitivities of dealing with children in any context and our officers have instructions that the needs and welfare of children in these complex circumstances must be given the highest priority.
Our Sydney office has been in contact with the NSW Department of Education to discuss how we engage with NSW schools in these circumstances.
Only a small number of children found unlawfully in Australia are detained. In the vast majority of cases, the department works on removal arrangements while women and children remain in the community.