Inquiry to look at impact of children in detention centres

THE impact of holding children in Australia's detention centre network will be the focus of a wide-ranging inquiry, launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission on Monday.

A decade has passed since the commission last investigated the effects of detention on children, which found such practices were "fundamentally inconsistent" with Australia's human rights obligations.

"These are children that, among other things, have been denied freedom of movement, many of whom are spending important developmental years of their lives living behind wire in highly stressful environments," the Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs said.

"It has been ten years since the 'A Last Resort?' report and, when that inquiry was announced, there were over 700 children in immigration detention.

"Today the numbers are far higher than at any time during the first national inquiry, with over 1000 children currently in immigration detention facilities in Australia and over 100 children detained in the regional processing centre of Nauru."

The commission has called on all those involved with the detention of children, including people who may themselves have been detained in the past, to come forward.

"The benefit of a national inquiry is that, through public hearings and submissions, it gives a voice to children and families who are directly affected by detention - as well as to people who have had direct experience with them in any number of community capacities, including professionals, experts, friends and others," Prof Triggs said.

The inquiry is expected to be completed before the end of 2014.

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