The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, led by the Dean of St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, accused the Federal government of "state sanctioned child abuse" after a new report revealed that child refugees were being held in closed and offshore immigration detention facilities.
"These vulnerable children are being locked away behind razor wire for the 'crime' of being born in countries in political and social turmoil," the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt said.
"[They] are held like animals in conditions that are inhumane, interrogated without support or representation, shipped around the country and offshore in the middle of the night, and denied basic rights including education," he continued.
The church leaders also called for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to be stripped of his role as 'guardian' for these children.
"It is a sick joke that under Australia's inadequate Guardianship Act their jailor is also their guardian," Reverend Catt said.
It has also been revealed that many children kept in detention centres were self-harming.
Sister Brigid Arthur, from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, spoke of the countless children she had dealt with who had self inflicted wounds.
"I've seen a lot of self harm," she told video journalist, Callum Denness. "Many, many teenagers over the years have shown me how they have cut themselves."
"All self harm - or harm to property - by children are always seen as misbehaviour, and they're usually punished as such," she explained.
The report, Protecting the Lonely Children, was launched on Wednesday at St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne by Dr Catt alongside leading human rights lawyer David Manne and Sister Brigid Arthur, a Catholic nun who runs the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project in Albert Park, Melbourne.
The report can be downloaded from acrt.com.au.