It's been reported that children, their families and a group of men have been removed from detention on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Refugee advocates say they will be moved to Christmas Island, but it's not known how long they will be housed there or what's prompted the move.
However, there have been renewed calls for other unaccompanied children to be released from all immigration detention into the community to live with local families.
The calls follow a violent altercation at Tasmania's Pontville Immigration Detention Centre that resulted in the hospitalisation of six youths for treatment.
But others say plans to release any asylum-seeker into the community must be more carefully considered.
Ildi Amon reports.
Around 260 asylum-seekers are currently housed at the Pontville immigration detention centre, in Brighton, north of Hobart.
The Immigration Department says they're all male and mostly unaccompanied minors.
A group advocating for the rights of children held in immigration detention centres says throughout Australia there's now a record number of children in detention: around 1,600.
ChilOut spokeswoman, Sophie Peer, says asylum-seekers are used as a political football and the rights of children in detention are often forgotten.
"These children are facing longer and longer in detention with the government's changes and budget cutbacks to the care for unaccompanied minors. We're seeing children spending eight, nine months in detention so certainly anything that gets them out of detention and onto the pathway of being part of the Australian community will be most welcomed by these children."
Louise Newman from Monash University in Melbourne is a refugee mental health researcher.
Professor Newman says there is extensive research showing the negative impact prolonged detention can have on children and young people.
She says incidents like the one at the Pontville centre, in which six youths had to be treated in hospital before later returning to the facility, can be expected.
"Detention centres are hot-houses, if you like: you have limited facilities, limited space, significant numbers of young people who are highly emotionally distressed at finding themselves in this very difficult situation. These are not normal environments for young people so it's really quite predictable that people might have conflict with others there, they might be short-tempered, they might be depressed - a whole range of factors can contribute to that."
Professor Newman says with more children in detention than ever before, the government appears to have ignored its own policy of detaining children only as a last resort.
She says an alternative - such as home-stays - should be considered, so young people can be released from detention centres across the country.
But Professor Newman's particularly concerned about children in offshore processing centres, such as PNG's Manus Island and Nauru, where she says it's legal for children to be held indefinitely.
"So these are very vulnerable young people. We are unfortunately seeing distress and psychological problems. We're even seeing cases where young people and children are engaging in self-harming behaviour and occasionally suicidal behaviour. So there's many very significant concerns about their mental health and well-being."
The founder of the Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support group, Emily Conolan, has seen first-hand the conditions at Pontville.
"The boys are sleeping and living in a dormitory-like situation where they share facilities. Every day they go out to schools, so the ones who are pre-year 10 go to a local high school the ones who are post-year 10 go to polytechnic or TAFE. I guess that their conditions are comfortable in that their immediate physical needs are looked after but obviously there is a great deal of mental distress and anguish on the part of these boys at being separated from their families and having such an uncertain future."
But one organisation says housing underage asylum-seekers in homestay-like accommodation may alleviate some of that distress.
The Australia Home Stay Network says it would be better and cheaper to house all asylum-seekers with Australian families instead of in detention facilities.
The Network's spokesman, David Bycroft, says his organisation has placed adult asylum-seekers into homes in the past and the scheme has worked well.
"I knew that when it was first launched there were people who were sceptical about it, but the proof is we've now placed 600 (adults) and we've proven that it's the best alternative for an asylum-seeker being released into the community, until they find their feet. Now I don't think there's anyone opposed to getting under 18s out of detention and into homes; I'd be very surprised if there was."
And Mr Bycroft believes Tasmanian communities would be particularly welcoming of young asylum-seekers.
But the Mayor of Brighton, Tony Foster, says the Pontville Detention Centre is one of the best in the country and should remain open.
The Mayor says it has provided jobs for locals and any move to house the children in the community would divide Tasmanians.
Mr Foster says he would prefer the Federal Government to allow the detainees at the centre to be able to come and go more freely.
"I would probably have some concern if suddenly we decided to put 200 young boys out into various homes and families and so forth, or I guess some sort of detention within the homes in the community. I'm not sure the people in Tasmania are ready for that. I'd be a little bit concerned for the safety of the boys, particularly if they were out of an evening. During the day, doing the normal things that we all do - not a problem, but you know I'd have some concerns with them being out in the evening."
The Home Stay Network's David Bycroft agrees that any plan to place asylum-seekers in homes must be carefully managed, both to protect the children and to ensure divisions aren't created in the community.
"We don't like to see asylum-seekers released and put in motels, hotels, boarding houses, backpackers, group accommodation because it just creates the ghetto-type atmosphere the Australians and the asylum-seekers don't want. So we would like to see a greater effort on giving more of them housed in the regions of Australia as well as housed in homestay-hosted accommodation so that there's one or two per household, spread out.
Professor Newman says Australia's treatment of asylum-seekers is particularly harsh, so she'd welcome any alternative that takes young people out of detention facilities.
"No-one else practices mandatory detention in the way that we do - the majority of countries do not support the detention of children. I think this raises really significant issues for the community, particularly as we're approaching an election and the questions that need to be asked and discussed amongst the community are whether we actually want to support a policy of mandatory detention, particularly of children and young people. It's very hard to argue that what Australia's doing is anything other than a violation of the rights of children, it's damaging to children and it's essentially a child protection issue."