In December 2020 the Secretariat of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) was pleased to co-convene a virtual regional roundtable with the International Detention Coalition (IDC), focused on mainstreaming child protection in the context of international migration.
This discussion was part of the ongoing regional platform and program of learning and action on alternative care arrangements for children in the context of international migration in the Asia Pacific, which was initiated in November 2019 at a two-day meeting in Bangkok.
Since that meeting, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges for governments and civil society in the region, including in responding to children in the context of international migration. With travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic, participants from the 2019 roundtable expressed an interest in re-convening virtually to continue the peer-learning platform. In particular, there was an interest in learning more about Australia’s experience in mainstreaming child protection.
The virtual meeting brought together approximately 35 experts from government ministries, civil society organisations, and international organisations in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to share their experiences and positive practice and assist each other to meet and address implementation challenges.
The ADFM Secretariat and IDC are now working with participants to design a program of work for the coming year, which will likely include a series of virtual discussions given ongoing travel restrictions. Some themes or topics for future discussions include:
- The role of civil society in the provision of alternative care arrangements to children and their families, and lessons learned from partnerships between different levels of government (city, provincial and national) and civil society organisations,
- Lessons learned from case management practices,
- Laws, policies and practices relating to access to education for refugee and migrant children,
- How this regional platform could connect with the work of regional institutions including the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC),
- Responses to unaccompanied and separated children, and foster care systems.
The ADFM is grateful to IDC for co-convening the event, to the Australian Department of Home Affairs and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support, and to all participants for their active engagement in the process. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 over the course of 2020, we were pleased to find a strong desire to continue the platform and build an ongoing program of peer-learning and action.
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