The head of Australian Baptist Ministries has written to federal Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, asking that no babies or children be placed in immigration detention.

“We believe it is important for the federal government to reappraise the present practice of immigration detention of babies and children so as to reduce the harmful effects on these young innocents,” Reverend Jobberns said.

“We are convinced, on the basis of human rights and our moral obligation to asylum seekers, as followers of Jesus and as Australian citizens, that babies and children must not be placed in immigration detention either onshore or offshore,” he said.

“Where possible, those who come to our shores should be welcomed and placed in the community while their security status and claims for refugee status are being assessed.”

Reverend Jobberns said he affirmed the findings and recommendations published in the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce report titled Protecting the Lonely Children, released on 29 July.

He confirmed that he had formally requested a meeting with the Immigration Minister to discuss the plight of children in detention and offer practical solutions including how Baptists in every State and Territory in Australia might facilitate effective community placement of asylum seekers.

Australian Baptist Ministries represents some 150, 000 people in 970 Baptist churches in Australia.