YOUNG asylum seekers housed at Pontville detention centre do not attend school, have not been provided with written information in their language and do not have access to sporting facilities, Commissioner for Children Aileen Ashford said today.
Ms Ashford visited Pontville last week and spoke to 26 of the 137 teenage boys aged 13 to 17 who are currently housed there.
She said the children did not claim to be badly treated, but were bored and did not understand why they were housed there.
``They all said: we want to go to school. We want to get an education,'' Ms Ashford said.
Ms Ashford is the first Commissioner for Children to meet with young people who are in detention, and was the first non-paid visitor to see the detainees.
She said some of the children she met had sporting injuries from playing soccer in thongs because they did not have the proper equipment.
She said she was told they did not have an oval at Pontville to play on because the funding had not stretched that far.
The first unaccompanied minors arrived at Pontville on January 22, after its status was changed to a place of alternative detention last year to allow minors to be housed there.
It has the capacity to house up to 260 unaccompanied minors.
Education minister Nick McKim has previously said he supported asylum seekers attending local schools.
But Ms Ashford said she was told that had not happened, partly because of the logistical difficulty of ferrying 137 boys to and from school each day.
``I can't believe the issue of education was not resolved before they came here,'' she said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has previously said the asylum seekers would have access to education, ``in line with community standards and judicial requirements.''