Refugees have been in the news again this week in Australia. Our high court ruled that Australia’s policy of offshore detention is legal, meaning the probable transfer of more than 250 asylum seekers to detention centres in Nauru – including 54 children currently held in Australia’s detention centres and 37 babies born in Australia (1&5)
I am not altogether against off-shore detention. As previously mentioned (https://geejenmotw.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/not-good-enough-australia-i-am-a-political-activist/) I still do not know enough about this issue to speak on the policy itself but I am 100% against child abuse and given the accusations against workers at Nauru do not believe any child or their family should be returned there.
Peter Dutton (Australian Immigration Minister) has that said transfers would be made on a case-by-case basis. (2) “We are not going to put children into harm’s way…We are going to work individually through each of the cases,” he said. He MUST be held to account on these statements. The Government has also given the Human Rights Legal Centre a guarantee to that no-one will be sent to Nauru without being given 72 hours’ notice (4).
Dr Hasantha Gunasekera, one of the paediatricians who assessed adolescents held on Nauru, said the children were among the most traumatised he and his colleague had seen “in 50 years of combined professional experience” (2). He also said Australians would be shocked to learn what was happening in offshore detention (3) This truly horrifies me.
His colleague Professor Triggs has urged the Federal Government to rethink its plan to send children back to Nauru. “Detaining children was not an effective deterrent to people smugglers,” she said. Both recommended that under no circumstances should any child detained on the mainland be sent to Nauru. “Many of the children had palpable anticipatory trauma at mention of return to Nauru,” Professor Elliott said (4).
Another doctor (Dr. Francis) spoke out saying “One of the devastating things about living in detention in the current climate is they [the children] don’t have any hope….And we’re seeing children suffer significant mental health problems because of that lack of hope (4).” Shockingly he describes a 7 year old girl who has drawn pictures of her own funeral 😦
When Minister Peter Dutton says the Government will consider medical advice before deciding whether to deport a 5yo boy allegedly on Nauru you can’t help but feel doubtful (5). How could it even be considered a possibility to return him?? These allegations must be completely investigated before any such action is remotely considered.
There are some good people out there – churches have offered themselves as sanctuary (6) and the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called on the Prime Minister to allow the refugees to settle in his state (7). In a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball he wrote,
“A sense of compassion is not only in the best interests of these children and their families. It is also in the best interests of our status as a fair and decent nation…sending them [infants] to Nauru will needlessly expose them to a life of physical and emotional trauma…It’s wrong. Medical professionals tell us this. Humanitarian agencies tell us this. Our values tell us this, too. Sending these children and their families to Nauru is not the Australian way.“
So this has been my days research. I think I have a few more letters to write to my representatives…
ps another blogger has called on her readers to write to political leaders https://moiraneagle.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/choosing-not-to-be-helpless/ and also written poetry about Australia’s refugee situation.