Seeking Asylum Alone - Australia: A study of Australian law, policy and practice regarding unaccompanied and separated children
OverviewUnaccompanied and separated children continue to be caught up in programs to deflect unauthorised Australian boat arrivals to offshore processing centres. If such children do make it to Australia, the processes for identifying children travelling alone are inadequate, with too much reliance placed on the self-identification of such children. No child victim of trafficking has been identified in Australia since 1994. Australia's refugee status determination system was established with adult asylum seekers as the norm. Children face obvious disadvantage in both articulating their story and in being heard. At the crucial first point of contact with authorities children are required to articulate their need for protection without either an advisor or an effective guardian. Case studies of children within the asylum process also suggest that immigration officials and officials at appellate level have been poorly trained and have lacked the skills to deal with child asylum seekers with appropriate sensitivity. Another barrier faced by these children is legal: questions remain as to how well the international definition of refugee has been read to accommodate the particular experiences of children. It is hoped that this report will encourage Australian officials to think seriously about children as refugees in their own right - most particularly when the children are travelling alone. This Report was funded by the MacArthur Foundation (Chicago), the Australian Research Council and the Myer Foundation.Also available Seeking Asylum Alone - A Comparative Study- Unaccompanied and Separated Children and Refugee Protection in Australia, the UK and the US, by Jacqueline Bhabha and Mary Crock.