Interim care order for unaccompanied minor forced to join militia

The District Court granted an interim care order for one month for an unaccompanied young person who had been kidnapped by local militia in his country of origin.

The CFA social worker told the court she received a call from an international protection officer in one of country’s ports saying that a young person had arrived in the jurisdiction alone. The young person had told the social worker he and a sibling had been kidnapped, taken away, beaten and made to join the militia as child soldiers. He said his sibling had died in the process. He had escaped and made his way back to his village, but his village had been burnt and destroyed and nothing or nobody was left.

The young person had had a full medical examination, including blood tests and X-rays and was in good general health. He had complained of some illnesses, but they were believed to be psychosomatic. She said his circumstances and the death of his sibling weighed heavily on him. The social work department worked with him and the Red Cross and have tried to make contact with his family but so far this had been unsuccessful.

He was settled in a residential placement and had developed some friendships. He was attending a bridging school and it was hoped he would be ready for mainstream school at the start of the new academic year. He had commenced an application for international protection. The social worker was satisfied he was under the age of 18 and had no legal guardian in the state.

The judge granted an interim care order and appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL). The judge asked what psychological supports had been offered to the young person. The social worker replied that supports had been offered but they had been refused. She and the staff at the residential unit would continue to work with the young person to assess his needs in order for appropriate supports to be offered.