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Today is the last day the Government can act to get children out of detention by Christmas.

Pressure is mounting on the government to release children from detention and you can help.

Last week, the Greens, Labor and cross-bench Senators voted to pass a series of amendments to a migration bill, which would see children out of immigration detention facilities before Christmas this year.

In order to make that a reality, the Government must allow the changes, by voting them through the Parliament.

Today is the last day that is possible and yet, the Prime Minister remains silent.

“The tide of public opinion has turned,” refugee advocate Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre told Mamamia. “Thousands are now putting pressure on Malcolm Turnbull to stay true to his promise that ‘one child in detention is too many’.

“All children have a right to live in safety, but children in our immigration centres are exposed every day to a dangerous environment that is causing long-term mental health damage.”

Kobra Moradi, a former refugee from Afghanistan and human rights advocate, explains why children should be allowed to live in the community, saying:

The changes to the Migration Maritime Powers Amendment Bill would require children to be released from detention within 30 days, while also increasing media access and making it mandatory to report child abuse witnessed in the facilities.

They also increased protection for whistle-blowers, so that doctors and workers can speak out without fear of prosecution.

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Basically, the Government has a choice: legislate to get the children out today or maintain its increasingly unpopular position of locking kids up until February next year.

Recent polling by independent think tank The Australia Institute shows that a majority of voters (57.5%) in Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth believe that women, children and families should be released from detention on Nauru and Manus Island and processed in Australia.

Many of the Prime Minister’s constituents are calling on him personally to intervene:

“Each day I see my 1 year old daughter developing and growing. How can we put children in detention when we know that it is harmful to them?” Maylynn Nunn, a resident of Wentworth for four years, said.

“As Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull has the power to release children from detention and give them back their childhoods.”

Heartbreaking pictures drawn by children in detention facilities obtained as part of the inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention by the Human Rights Commission last year:

Another resident who has lived in the seat for six years said that she was “disappointed” by the leader’s lack of action.

“In February the Prime Minister said that one child in detention was too many, this gave me hope that if he came to power he would take a stand. He hasn’t and this has disappointed me,” Danielle Austin said.

There are currently 112 children living in onshore detention facilities. If these amendments are supported, they could be free, bringing us one step closer to getting all asylum seeker children in Australia and on Nauru out of detention as soon as possible.

On Human Rights Day last year, Senator George Brandis promised that all children would be out of detention by early 2015.

Today, the Government has the opportunity to deliver on that promise.

So what can you do? The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has some suggestions:

  1. Call Mr Turnbull and tell him to support the amendments and get the children out by Christmas. The number for his Wentworth Electoral Office is (02) 9327 3988 or contact his Parliamentary Office on (02) 6277 7700.
  2. Or you can write using this template from the ASRC.

Some tips for calling the Prime Minister’s office:

  • When the phone is answered state your name and ask to leave a message for the Prime Minister.
  • Explain why you are calling: “I am calling about the Senate amendments to the Migration and Maritime Powers Bill to remove children from detention within 30 days.”
  • Clearly state your message: “Please ask Mr Turnbull to support the amendments to remove all children from detention by Christmas.” 
  • Give your reasons: we suggest you prepare three reasons that you think he should do this in advance.
  • Thank them for passing on the message.
  • Don’t rush or get worried by impatient staff, just stay relaxed so your message is clear.

Feature image via Free the Children Nauru Facebook page.

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