In this issue you will find:
? Introducing Carmel Alakus
? Farewell to Janine Wilson
? Global Child Rights Corner
? What’s Happening in NSW
? Did You Know?
? Case-Study – Reunited after 30 year
A New Year! A new regular section in the newsletter - Global Child Rights Corner. We trust that you will find this new section interesting as we bring you information about Child Rights around the world. The
first article covers an issue which seems to have been lost in all the debates about the Guantanamo Bay
In November we announced that Lizzie Callinan had resigned to further her international social work
experience in the Solomon Islands and, we hope, seek out possible ISS contacts in that country. We are
delighted to introduce the new Senior Social worker in this first newsletter for 2007.
Introducing Carmel Alakus
It feels like many facets of my life have come together in accepting the position of Casework Coordinator at ISS. When the Department of Immigration still funded the grant-in-aid scheme, I was employed as a social worker with the Inter Church Trade and Industry Mission. That was my introduction to the concept
After that I did a locum at the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau, another grant-in-aid position
where I had the chance to work alongside some very dedicated and talented volunteers. My work in child welfare at St Anthony’s Family Service, now part of MacKillop Family Services, gave me a good working knowledge of child protection issues that I endeavoured to keep up to date with when I
moved to adult mental health services.
Over the years I supervised many social work students, hoping to pass onto them something of what I had learned and to give something back to my profession. One of the attractions of the current position
was the emphasis on providing rich learning opportunities for students. I have had a great introduction to ISS with extensive handover notes from my predecessor, a day of
orientation from the NSW Senior Social Worker, and through my participation in a two day staff
development program which was attended by all ISS staff.
At the beginning of my fourth week I am most pleased with my new job. Supportive, friendly staff,
interesting worthwhile work and opportunities to learn are among the most important things a fulfilling job
holds for me. ISS is a very important organisation and I hope to be a part of it for many years to come.
Farewell to Janine Wilson
Janine Wilson, the administrative officer at the ISS national office leaves us at the end of January to start
a new business with her husband. Janine has been with us less than a year but in that time she has
established efficient administrative systems, helped with inter-country casework and provided valuable administrative support for the International Parental Child Abduction Service. All along the way she has
kept us going with numerous cups of tea and coffee! All of Janine’s efforts have helped us to deliver a better service to our clients. Thank you Janine. ISS wishes you well for the future. Global Child Rights Corner: A new monthly section providing information and news
about child’s rights issues across the world.
The fifth anniversary of the opening of the United States detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
occurred on 11 January 2007. Of the hundreds of suspects captured and transferred to the detention
centre, it is estimated that around seventeen detainees were captured as children, one as young as
thirteen. One young person, Yassar al-Zahrani died from allegedly hanging himself in Guantanamo Bay in
2006. There currently remain four young men who have reached adulthood within Guantanamo Bay.
Detainees have allegedly been subject to torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment. Human rights
groups have branded the detention centre a legal black hole in which access to fair and just judicial
processes is denied.
As children in detention, these boys were denied their rights to parental care and protection in
accordance with international child’s rights standards. The United States Defence Department has
defended its position of detaining children in Guantanamo Bay by stating that as suspected enemy combatants, age is not a factor to be taken into consideration. The United States is one of only two
countries to not have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, thus reducing their obligation to
adhere to internationally accepted child’s rights standards.
What's Happening in NSW?
The start of the new year has been a busy time for ISS NSW. The office had a higher than usual referral
rate for IPCA cases, most likely due to recent media attention around abduction. This month the NSW office farewell’s long standing staff member, Phoebe Worthington. Phoebe joined
ISS two years ago and has worked as our Administrative Support and Tracing Research Worker. We
would like to extend a big thank you to Phoebe for her commitment and valuable contribution to ISS and wish her well in the future. We would also like to welcome our new student, Ruben who comes to us from
the University of New South Wales and is currently in his third year of Social Work studies. Did You Know?
The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HccH) is an international intergovernmental
organisation that provides legal security and protection for individuals whose movements and activities
cross national borders. It is mandated to standardise private international law, which is concerned with
the legal rights of, and relationships between, private individuals from different countries. The HccH develops and administers the Hague Conventions in several areas of private international law,
including the international protection of children. Through the adoption of Hague Conventions, the HccH
promotes an international structure for effective co-operation between countries regarding private law and
provides an opportunity for building bridges between diverse legal systems.
Hague Conventions are only applicable between countries that are signatories to the same convention. A
signatory country must establish a Central Authority, which functions as the country’s international contact
point regarding implementation of the Hague Conventions. The Attorney-General’s Department is the Australian Central Authority. It oversees and administers all the Hague Conventions to which Australian
has signed, and co-ordinates all Hague related laws, policy and advocacy. Case Study – Reunited After 30 Years The ISS Australia office in Sydney was contacted by a 30 year old Australian woman, Mary, who was
searching for her sister, Julia. Julia had been born prior to Mary’s birth and, due to complex family
circumstances, had been adopted out when the family was living in Germany. Prior to her death Mary’s
mother had tried unsuccessfully to find her daughter and Mary promised that she would continue the
search in her honour.
ISS Australia made a referral to ISS Germany, who were able to obtain details about Julia and eventually locate her. ISS Germany was also able to locate a copy of Julia’s original birth certificate; a document
which, due to the limited details she had about her birth and adoption, Julia had not previously been able
to obtain. ISS Australia and ISS Germany worked with Mary and Julia to prepare them for the first
contact with each other, and helped them understand the kinds of issues this family reunification may
raise for both of them. ISS Australia and ISS Germany then helped to facilitate the initial contact between the sisters. When both Mary and Julia felt comfortable to maintain direct contact with each other via
emails and phone calls, the ISS branches withdrew their role of mediating contact but each ISS branch
maintained contact with their client to provide them any support they needed. Not long after they had begun making direct contact with each other, Julia travelled to Australia to spend
her first Christmas with her sister. Mary welcomed Julia into her home and introduced her sister to other members of her biological family. Although it was an emotional journey, both sisters enjoyed their time
together and continue to maintain regular contact.
Identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of ISS clients.