Make asylum seeker children feel welcome
Ever wished you could let asylum seekers know that YOU care about them and reassure them that they've got a friend in Australia? The Befriend A Child In Detention Project has been set up to let you do just that.
Being detained is incredibly isolating and with poor conditions, exposure to violence and harm and frequently having already been exposed to trauma, it's no wonder that asylum seeker children have higher rates of serious mental health issues (34%, compared with only 2% amongst Australian children). Whilst government debates and policies remain harsh, you have the power to reach out and send positive messages to those in detention.
What you can do
The Befriend a Child in Detention Project has 4 activities you can undertake that to make a positive connection with child asylum seekers and their families living in detention.
1. Write a letter, draw a picture and send warm wishes
One of the key programs that the project runs is writing letters to children in detention. Letters help to ease stress, distract from the monotony of life in detention and allow children to build friendships with Australians and feel more welcome. Wondering where to get started?
2. Run a ‘Links, not Chains’ program at your school
Are you a student, parent or teacher who can suggest a program to be implemented in your school? Get the ‘Links, not Chains’ program going in your school and help your school to show support for asylum seeker children in detention, build positive links and press for change.
3. Join the visiting team
Each month, the Befriend a Child in Detention travels to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) in Broadmeadows. They meet and chat with detained asylum seekers over a cup of tea and show them warmth and begin to build a stronger sense of community.
4. Lobby for change
The Befriend a Child in Detention project also has resources to help you write a letter to your local MP, send a postcard to the Prime Minister or send a toy. Learn how here.
What else can you do?
Get educated about the effects of detention on child asylum seekers, encourage your friends and family to do the same, and support the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.