Save the Children has expressed disappointment at the passing of the Temporary Exclusion Order Bill without the inclusion of provisions that ensure the best interests of children are upheld.
The Bill passed through the Senate unamended yesterday after Labor and members of the cross bench had earlier pushed the Government to refer the Bill to a Senate Committee.
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said:
“It is very disappointing to see this Bill pass through the Parliament without appropriate provisions to protect innocent children, and ensure they are not punished for the actions of their parents.
“Any Bill of this nature should be explicit in making sure the best interests of children are upheld, as per the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this instance, that has not been the case, which is a failure to some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
“While we support measures to keep Australia safe, Save the Children is concerned that as it stands the Bill does not include adequate safeguards to ensure that innocent children do not suffer unintended consequences if their parents are subject to a temporary exclusion order, such as children being separated from families, kept in dangerous situations or being cared for by non-family members.
“Too often we see children being caught up in conflicts they know little about, and for which they bear no responsibility, yet being treated as if they have done something wrong.
“Right now, more than 40 Australian children – all but two under 14 – are languishing in dangerous camps in North East Syria. Many are suffering shrapnel wounds, burns to their body, severe depression and anxiety, malnutrition and other health related conditions.
“These children, who have lived through conflict, bombardment and acute deprivation, should not be treated like criminals because of the actions of their parents. Their health, wellbeing and safety is paramount.
“We urge the Australian Government to immediately move these Australian children and their families to safety and bring them home as quickly as possible. Those who have broken the law should face justice, but their children shouldn’t suffer another minute.”
For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937.