16 Oct 2010

Australia may release hundreds of asylum-seekers

9:15 pm on 16 October 2010

The Australian government is planning to release hundreds of asylum-seekers from detention and allow them to live in the community while their applications for asylum are assessed.

The West Australian newspaper is reporting that, under the new plan, asylum-seekers not considered a security risk will be eligible for release, with priority given to families with children.

If the plan goes ahead, the ABC reports, hundreds of people currently in detention centres, including about 700 children, are likely to be released.

Green Party senator Sarah Hanson-Young has been working with the federal government to bring about what would be a major policy shift.

Senator Hanson-Young has held talks with Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, who she says is moving quickly on the issue. She says a deal to release the detainees is close, although issues of employment and education are still to be worked out.