|NEWS AND VIEWS|
|Unaccompanied minors face uncertainty|
|A significant proportion of asylum seekers arriving by boat are aged between 12 and 24 and many of them are unaccompanied minors. Once they arrive in Australia, the immigration minister becomes their legal guardian. However, this guardianship is called into question if these young people are then sent to Malaysia to have their claims assessed. The uncertain situation of these young people is largely absent from the current mainstream commentary around asylum seeker policy. With the Federal Government’s push for legislative change looking likely to fail at the time of writing, we have put together the following summary of the sequence of events so far and outlined our position on the current situation.|
On 25 July the Federal Government announced a transfer deal with the Malaysian government. This would allow for 800 ‘irregular maritime arrivals’ (asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat) to be transferred to Malaysia to have their claims assessed; 4,000 refugees already awaiting resettlement in Malaysia would then travel to Australia over the next four years in response.
The deal, though, was not accompanied by legislative changes and its legality was challenged in the High Court. The deal was ruled unlawful in late August. The decision not only ruled out the Malaysia deal, but appeared to throw the entire practice of offshore processing in doubt. The government quickly moved to introduce legislation to get around the ruling, but at the time of writing these amendments appear to be in limbo as the government doesn’t have enough support to pass the legislation.
We continue to be concerned about the policy of mandatory detention, and are also concerned about the Malaysia swap deal. For many young people, the process of seeking asylum in Australia (including mandatory detention) is traumatic, and is compounded by pre-arrival trauma and the natural stress of adolescence. The negative effects of mandatory detention on young people’s mental and physical health is widely accepted and understood. Many organisations from the health and welfare sectors have continually advocated for the abolition of mandatory detention. It is also a hugely expensive process compared to being released into the community, as asylum seekers who arrive by plane are.
Elements of Australia’s current immigration legislation and policy, such as mandatory detention and the creation of excised areas of Australian territory such as Christmas Island, contravene Australia’s human rights’ obligations as a signatory to a number of UN conventions and treaties (including the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
The Malaysia solution also contravenes these obligations, and we believe it is of utmost importance that young people, especially unaccompanied minors, have their claims processed in Australia. Transporting young, likely already traumatised, people offshore to be processed in another country where they may not have the same protections that they would find in Australia would expose unaccompanied minors to unacceptable levels of risk and subject Australia’s human rights record to global scrutiny.
|Here are some more links that add more detail or attempt to move the debate in other directions:|
- This Chill Out article looks at the reasons handed down by the High Court for the ruling, and the implications for asylum seeker policy.
- Melbourne lawyer and former Liberty Victoria president Michael Pearce suggests that the one option remaining for the government may be to withdraw from the Refugee Convention.
- Around the time of the High Court decision, the Centre for Policy Development published a critique of current refugee and asylum seeker policies, with some suggested changed in approach – click here to download a PDF copy.
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|Australian Multicultural Council established|
|CMY’s founder and CEO Carmel Guerra has been appointed to the Australian Multicultural Council, a new advisory body created by the Federal Government as part of its multiculturalism strategy (as mentioned in the March edition of e-News). The council will advise the government on multicultural affairs, take a formal role in a strengthened access and equity strategy, and undertake policy research as part of its responsibilities. |
Dr Hass Dellal, Chair of CMY’s board and director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, is also a member of the council – view a full list of members at the AMC website.
One of the first tasks of this new council will be to select up to 40 representatives to the People of Australia Ambassadors program. The program will recruit local champions to help promote inclusion and participation in their community. More information on the committee and the program can be found here.
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|WHAT'S NEW AT CMY?|
|‘Working For Success’ conference – register now|
|What do real employment outcomes look like for young people who are refugees and new arrivals? CMY and Youth Development Australia invite you to a working conference on employment of young people from refugee and newly arrived backgrounds. The conference will explore issues and find solutions to help young people get and keep a job that provides real pathways to a better life.|
|When: Friday 28 October, 9.30am-4pm|
|Where: Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre (corner Bell Street and St Georges Road, Preston)|
Register online at the YDA website.
|download flyer (303kb)|
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|Funding for Brimbank Young Men’s Project|
|You may recall the last edition of e-News featuring a report on the Brimbank Young Men’s Projecta pilot program that helps young men of African backgrounds who are experiencing difficulties with settlement in Australia. CMY's Sunshine office at the Visy Cares Hub got a visit early in September from Senator Kate Lundy, who had some good news on funding for the project – a grant of $60,000 will keep the program running for another 12 months, which should help continue the positive impact it’s had on the lives of its participants. As peer facilitator for the program Dominic Matiang says, "If you give young people the right start, they will be able to contribute to society. […] You can't just be good. You have to be much better than just the average to be accepted and you have to work 10 times harder to seem better. But if you give us a chance, you won't regret it."|
|Read a story from the Brimbank Leader on the Senator's visit.|
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|Refugee Youth Support Pilot |
|CMY has been asked by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to scope and establish a national pilot project that will test a new approach to the settlement of 16 and 17 year old unaccompanied humanitarian minors (UHMs). This approach will recognise the ability of many of these clients to transition to living independently and aim to strengthen their ability to manage their lives effectively in the Australian community. The pilot is likely to include providing youth-focused settlement services and housing in more creative ways designed to deliver these outcomes.|
The pilot will be conducted in three states by CMY (Victoria), Multicultural Youth South Australia and Multicultural Development Association (Queensland). All of these organisations have been involved in the Multicultural Youth Advisory Network (MYAN) since 2005 and have significant experience with this group of young people.
The MYAN will also play a role in the pilot to support the development and implementation of a national framework. It is anticipated that the 12 month pilot will begin by the end of 2011. More information will follow soon. Read the Immigration Minister’s speech that mentions the pilot here.
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|CMY and Social Media|
|CMY has dipped its collective toe into the waters of social media, to connect better with our many stakeholders. You can now ‘like’ CMY and check out what we’re up to via our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/LikeCMY – or trade news, links and pithy one-liners with us on our Twitter feed – www.twitter.com/TalkToCMY. We’re also planning on adding video content to our YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/MulticulturalYouth. |
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|Teaching Diversities report now available|
|CMY and Victoria University have completed Teaching Diversities, a community consultation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) young people on their experiences of sexual diversity and homophobia. Young people and service providers were consulted on the needs of same sex-attracted young people from emerging cultural backgrounds, specifically intergenerational conflict and ideas for arts-based community education about same sex attraction within CLD communities, including arts-based best practice models to achieve the project aims. Key findings include:|
- Culturally diverse young people need role models from their own cultures including cultural advocates who are not LGBTQ.
- There is a need for more culture-based queer peer support groups to combat some of the isolation experienced.
- Information handouts for SSA young people need to be in diverse languages.
- Racism in the LGBTQ community needs to be addressed.
- Working with the younger, rather than older, generation is most advisable due to young people’s lack of faith in the older generation’s ability to change.
- Education about traditional sexualities diversity is needed.
- Arts are the most effective for educating about SSA young people’s lives.
|download the report (1.1MB)|
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|Regional support for multicultural youth|
|Following the announcement by the Victorian State Government’s commitment to fund two CMY offices in regional and rural Victoria, we have spent the last three months visiting regional centres across the state. After comprehensively scoping the needs of migrant and refugee young people and the existing services that support them, Bendigo, Ballarat, La Trobe Valley and Mildura have been selected as potential sites, the first of which will be opened by the end of the year. Here is a brief summary of what we learned during our consultations.|
|Issues faced by young people |
|Many of the issues that young people from migrant and refuge backgrounds in country areas seem to be facing are similar to those of young people who are grappling with the challenges of resettlement in Melbourne suburbs. Young people and workers spoke about how hard it can be for young people to juggle cultural expectations within the family and their lives with friends, school and the wider Australian community. Community leaders articulated their fears for young people’s safety and wellbeing, that they might step on to the ‘wrong side’ of freedom. However they also acknowledged that the majority of young people were doing very well and are often very dedicated to their study or work. |
However the smaller populations in country areas with less history of migration bring additional challenges compounded by a lack of service infrastructure to meet CLD young people’s needs. Poor public transport access was consistently raised, as was the lack of educational pathways options and the need for local job creation initiatives and employment preparation programs. Dean Wickham from Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council highlighted the impact of cost barriers in accessing sport and recreation for young people and said that the needs of Samoan, Tongan and other Pacific Islander young people are often overlooked. Workers in Ballarat reported that some newly-arrived young people tended to shy away from culturally specific initiatives as they had a strong desire to fit in and make friends with Australian born kids.
Young people who arrived in Australia to seek asylum without their parents (unaccompanied humanitarian minors) and have spent time in detention talked of the stress, depression and anger that can affect their peers at a deep level. Their concern for their parents and family members in danger overseas was palpable. The need for peer support, programs to improve young people’s self-esteem and the careful selection of high calibre staff to ESL and casework roles were all highlighted.
|Local community response|
|Questions about how communities were embracing diversity drew a mixed response. Some said there have been a few serious incidents of racism in their area with young people being teased at school, others chased down the street and one family having to move house. In another area leaflets had been dropped spreading racist fears. However, on the whole, people spoke of their communities being welcoming.|
Kerren Miles from Mildura Rural City Council Youth Services supported a Hazara young man to share his story in a remote rural town last year, to dispel some of the myths that abound about boat people. “It’s about giving a human face to the refugee story”, she said. The same success was evident in Gippsland with a South Sudanese young man sharing his story of survival as one of the ‘Lost Boys' in schools. Not surprisingly, the role that volunteers and religious communities played in connecting new arrivals with the broader Australian community such as the Karen in Bendigo was highly valued.
|Some great partnership work is being undertaken by community health centres, local councils and settlement planning committees in regional centres. Latrobe City Council and Latrobe Community Health Service have been running swimming and water safety programs and Shiree Pilkinton, immigrant advocate and creative producer in Ballarat ran a really successful creative arts project last year. ‘Life’s Cycle’, brought together six young people from Ballarat’s refugee community and six from Snake Valley (population 300). This was essentially a photography project that also wove in cycling, camping and sharing food and stories from different cultures.|
Kerren Miles in Mildura shared some of the successes of a program her service ran with young women to develop their employment skills and provide social support. She says it was a steep learning curve when she first started doing more cross-cultural work, but she has learnt a great deal along the way. “You have to talk to the parents or older brother, whoever it is in the family to get to know them before asking permission for the young person to participate in activities”, she said.
|In Mildura, four passionate and hopeful young community leaders Alyas Taqawi, Zia Ibrahimi, Marie Capogrecco and Berivan Oznal spoke of wanting to support their peers, communities and the next generations growing up in Mildura. |
We were heartened and excited to see some of the committed support offered to CLD young people in the regions. We are planning to hold a Statewide Multicultural Issues Network (SMYIN) meeting around rural CLD youth work in the coming year to allow agencies to share successes and struggles.
Watch this space for community gardens, parenting support programs, short film projects and girls holiday activities… It’s all happening in country Victoria.
|- Kate O’Sullivan – CMY Coordinator, Special Projects|
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|WHAT'S NEW IN THE SECTOR|
|Details of upcoming events, conferences and new resources in the multicultural youth sector. If you have an event or resource you want promoted through CMY Digest, please send details to email@example.com|
|A regularly-updated list of new resources and upcoming events in the multicultural youth sector|
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|IN THE MEDIA|
|Multicultural youth issues in the media – what are some of the issues that are making it into the news? If you come across media articles you think should be highlighted in this newsletter, please forward to firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Please note that the views expressed in any articles featured do not necessarily reflect the views of CMY.|
|Nostalgia for a Nauru Dreaming (The Drum, 14 September 2011)|
|Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre details the ‘ugly truth’ of the Nauru solution. |
|> read the article at The Drum|
|The morality of offshore processing (Crikey, 13 September 2011)|
|What exactly is the policy issue at the heart of the debate over offshore versus onshore processing? And what is its morality as public policy?|
|> read the article at the Crikey website|
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