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Christmas Island

Christmas Island

Summary

Christmas Island is under the jurisdiction of Australia,1 and is home to many unique species of flora, fauna and birds — 411 plant species, and several endangered animal species.2 One of these species is the red crab, whose annual migration across the island is considered one of the natural wonders of the world.3 The most prevalent human rights issue on the island was the immigration detention center. However, the detention center is currently closed until further notice.4 Formerly, the detention center was an international concern, particularly in its treatment of children, as they were often separated from their families.5 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kt.html 2 http://www.regional.gov.au/territories/christmas/enviro_herritage.aspx 3 Ibid 4 https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/christmas-island-detention-centre-to-close-in-seven-months/news-story/63d684a047cf3535dd6529baebfbbb6e 5 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-24/human-rights-commissioner-says-christmas-island-centre-shocking/5341524

Explore Christmas Island Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Religion
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Poverty
Clean Water
Animals

Environment

Christmas Island is tropical, and largely covered by rainforest.1 The rainy season lasts from December to April each year.2 411 plant species are found on the island, of which 18 are native to Christmas island.3 Several endangered animal species also live on the island.4 The loss of rainforest and the effects of phosphate mining are the primary environmental concerns of the island.5 In 2012, Australia issued an Emergency Management Ordinance to help establish necessary management arrangements for Christmas Island with assistance from the Australian government.6 This ordinance provided a legislative basis for emergency relief efforts.7 An emergency is deemed as any situation in which “Extraordinary measures are required to prevent or minimize any of the following: Loss of life of humans or animals; Illness of, Read More or injury to, humans or animals; Property loss or damage; Damage to the environment.”8 Show Less

Family

The primary familial issues on Christmas Island were found in the island’s immigration detention center, particularly within the family compounds, where children were sometimes separated from their families.1 This controversial practice caused tensions, both on and off land, to rise dramatically.3 However, in 2017, the Australian Border Force announced that the detention center would be closing.4

Human Rights

The prominent human rights issue on Christmas Island was the treatment of child and adult immigrant detainees in the island’s immigration detention center.1 A Human Rights Commission inquiry was launched in March of 2014 to investigate the situation.2 Recently, Australian authorities announced the center would be closing.3 However, the center will be maintained in order for it to be prepared for reopening at short notice, if deemed necessary.4

Education

The official language of Christmas Island is English,1 however, the Christmas Island High School — which provides education to all children on the island for grades P–12 — gives students the opportunity to learn Mandarin or Bahasa Malay, which are the other main languages spoken on the island.2 While there are no universities on the island, the high school provides university preparatory pathways, as well as vocational training.3 The school also has its own STEM laboratory.4

Religion

The religious demographics of Christmas Island are as follows: 16.9 percent Buddhist, 16.4 percent Christian, 14.8 percent Muslim, 1.3 percent other, 9.2 percent claim none and 41.5 percent are unspecified.1 These religions exist comfortably together on the island with no conflicts.2

Economy

Christmas Island maintains its economy mainly through low grade phosphate mining — that is approaching depletion — as well as tourism, provision of governmental services, and, formerly, the operation of the immigration detention center.1 Jobs within the government sector are administration, health, education, policing, customs and defense.2 Much of the economy is supported by Australia with the Community Development Grants Programme.3 The Australian government provides more developed business opportunities within the Indian Ocean Territories and assistance with the Christmas Island Tourism Association.4

Government

Since 1958, Christmas Island has been under the jurisdiction of Australia.1 The Christmas Island Act of 1958 provides the legislative basis and judicial system.2 The Governor-General appoints an Administrator, who acts as the representative for the Minister in the Indian Ocean Territories.3 In 1992, the Territories Law Reform Act was ratified to act as an amendment for the Christmas Island Act.4 This gave the residents of Christmas Island the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as Australian citizens.5 The Shire Council is the local government of Christmas Island and has the same responsibilities as other local governments in Australia.6

Health

The primary health care service that exists on Christmas Island is the Indian Ocean Territories Health Service.1 This service helps provide community based health programs using the Primary Health Care model.2 There is an 8-bed hospital located on Christmas Island and two remote clinics on the neighboring Keeling Islands.3

Children

Before 2017, the most pervasive issue facing children on Christmas Island was the treatment of the children detained in the island’s immigration detention center.1 A Human Rights Commission inquiry was launched in March of 2014 to investigate the situation.2 The commission found that child detainees were only permitted to refer to themselves and others by detention center ID numbers.3 Additionally, the commission found a high prevalence of depression, anxiety and mental illness among the children in in the facility. Many of the children had stopped communicating completely.4 315 children were held in the center for 6 to 8 months. This was a clear violation of international law, which states that children cannot be detained for anything other than security and health checks.5 Other issues Read More included police and authorities taking medications that asylum-seeking children had brought with them to the island.6 Recently, the Australian Border Force announced this detention center would be closing.7 Show Less

Poverty

Data for poverty levels on Christmas Island is unavailable.1

Clean Water

The island’s water supply is stored and treated above ground, as all fresh water on the island is sourced from natural springs, not groundwater.1 However, if this supply is contaminated or not replenished, it becomes difficult to keep available, as the storage system only holds two days of supply.2 The Australian Department of Infrastructure and Development is currently running a campaign to research the presence, or lack thereof, of groundwater resources on Christmas Island.3 The first stage of the research is complete, and the second will include water sampling and drilling in an attempt to locate fresh water resources.4

Animals

The red crab is native to Christmas Island, and the crabs’ annual migration across the island is considered one of the natural wonders of the world.1 Park rangers sweep the crabs off the streets to prevent oncoming traffic from hitting the crabs.2 The Abbott’s Booby nests solely on Christmas Island, and is on the registered list of endangered species, as is the Christmas Island Frigatebird.3

Christmas Island

News

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