School ban on asylum seeker children

Teenage asylum seekers are using halls and recreation centres in Leonora as classrooms because the State Government will not let them attend the local school.

Until the end of the 2011 school year, underage asylum seekers from the Leonora immigration detention centre attended classes at the local school.

But the WA Government told the Federal Government late last year the asylum seekers could no longer attend. Since then, classes have been held outside the school for the unaccompanied minors, most aged 16 and 17.

Department of Immigration staff recently approached the local shire for suggestions of public buildings that could be used for classes, prompting shire president Jeff Carter to write to Premier Colin Barnett asking for clarification on arrangements between the State and Federal governments.

"Representatives from government agencies all know very well the success stories of the young refugees attending the Leonora school," Mr Carter said.

"Their attendance at the school had a positive effect on the local teenagers, especially the indigenous who attended the school more frequently because of the interaction with the new arrivals.

"I am assuming that DIAC are making arrangements for on-site or other off-site schooling facilities because the State and Federal governments are unable to come to any form of agreement about the arrangements that need to be established."

Last week, 121 boys were housed at the facility.

A department spokeswoman said most boys being housed there were moved into community detention in a matter of months.

An arrangement was in place with the Shire of Leonora to use community facilities.

A spokeswoman for Mr Barnett said he had told the Commonwealth that Leonora District High School did not have the resources to accommodate more students or meet the needs of older children.

Mr Carter said common sense should prevail and the asylum seeker children should be sent to the local school.
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