Protecting Children In Immigration Detention

20 February 2017

A landmark ruling by the Supreme Court has found that the State of Victoria has jurisdiction to intervene when children in immigration detention are in need of protection.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said the ruling meant the state could work more closely with the Commonwealth to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every child in Victoria.

The ruling affirms that child protection practitioners can continue to respond to concerns for children in immigration in the same way as any other child living in Victoria.

This means that child protection can investigate reports concerning the safety and wellbeing of children in immigration detention and exercise its statutory powers to intervene with a child who is assessed as being in need of protection.

This may include issuing a protection application in the Children’s Court, which could result in the child being placed in out-of-home care, with the consent of the Minister for Immigration.

The matter was referred to the Supreme Court after questions arose about the extent of child protection’s statutory powers under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

Child protection will continue to work closely with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, supporting child protection practitioners to assist children and their families who are in immigration detention.

Data provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection shows that as at 31 December 2016 there were 80 children in community detention in Victoria. There are currently no children held in immigration detention centres in Victoria.

The landmark ruling is consistent with investments by the Andrews Labor Government to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and their families through our ambitious $168 million Roadmap for Reform.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

“We are ensuring every child in Victoria feels safe and protected, including those in community or immigration detention.”

“This landmark decision puts beyond doubt that child protection can intervene to ensure the safety of all children living in Victoria.”

“The Department of Health and Human Services is now working with the Department of Immigration and Border Control to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that information can be sought by child protection in relevant cases.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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