Education is central to refugee children's chances of a positive future. But they, and their teachers, have many barriers to overcome. BY NIC BARNARD
A lost generation
There are nearly half a million refugee children living in Lebanon.
t’s a typical school day. Due to anxiety and fear, you have had an almost sleepless night in a Northern Territory detention centre where your mother is on suicide watch. Accompanied by a uniformed security guard, in a country and culture you barely understand, you make the 45-minute trip to school in punishing heat. Now you are supposed to settle down and concentrate on learning before
making the trip back ‘home’. Until recently, this was the experience of children at Wickham Point immigration detention centre, 35 kilometres from Darwin, as reported by paediatricians from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) who visited late last year. Since then, almost all asylum seeker and refugee children on the Australian mainland have been released into
community detention. They live, relatively freely but with some restrictions, in specified accommodation with their families. If they are unaccompanied minors, they live in group houses with full-time carers. But the AHRC report on Wickham Point nevertheless underscores the trauma endured by families seeking refuge and asylum, and the barriers it creates to education here and abroad.
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