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ChilOut (Children Out of Detention) is a group opposed to the mandatory detention of children under 18 in immigration detention centres in Australia. The group was formed in 2001, in the context of the policies of the Howard government regarding asylum seekers in Australia.

The group was inspired by program on ABC Television showed an Iranian child called Shayan Badraie in immigration detention suffering post traumatic stress disorder.[1]

A refugee advocate describes her response when she first saw the boy: "At first I believed he was a fake boy; a child made to look like a boy, a fundraiser for famine in Africa." (Acting from the Heart, Sarah Mares and Louise Newman (eds), p 6).

ChilOut's aim was to change the Migration Act 1958, to release all children and their families from mandatory and indefinite immigration detention. It did this mainly by petitioning media and politicians.

In 2005, ChilOut won the Community (Organisation) Award at the 2005 Human Rights Awards.[2]

At its zenith it had over 4,000 members.[citation needed] Most children in immigration detention in Australia have been released (as at July 2005). At that time the Migration Act 1968 was amended to effectively say that children should only be detained as a last resort.[3]

The group dissolved itself upon the election of the Labor government in 2007 under the mistaken belief that the ALP would be more progressive on refugee rights than the Howard government. The group reformed in 2011 when they realised that this was not the case.

According to the Department of Immigration there were 1731 children in locked detention in Australia as at August 2013.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rebecca Baillie (8 May 2002). Alliance speaks on behalf of detainees. 7:30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 23 September 2012.
  2. ^ Human Rights Awards 2012: 2005 Winners. Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved on 23 September 2012.
  3. ^ MIGRATION ACT 1958 - SECT 4AA. Commonwealth Consolidated Acts. Retrieved on 23 September 2012.
  4. ^ [1].Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Immigration Detention Statistics Summary. Retrieved on 13 August 2013.

External links[edit]