ChildFund Australia has joined more than 70 organisations — including the Refugee Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Social Services, international aid agencies, unions and church groups — in calling on the major political parties to end the mandatory offshore detention of refugees.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, published in The Australian today, the organisations express deep concern for the fate of the children and families currently resident in camps on Manus and Nauru.
The statement notes: “This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety.”
ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said: “Successive governments, from both sides of politics, have failed to address the serious failings of Australia’s offshore detention policy, which put already vulnerable lives, particularly children, at further risk.”
This is despite evidence from a series of independent inquiries which show that conditions for children and families in Manus and Nauru are inhumane. To date, the Moss Review and Cornell Reports, the Forgotten Children Report by the Australian Human Rights Commision, as well as the subsequent release of the Nauru Files, have all called for an end to offshore processing.
Mr Spence added: “Australia’s policy contravenes our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Right now, Australia cannot guarantee the safety of those who are resident in offshore processing centres. Under these circumstances, the only fair and reasonable course of action is that Australia offers refuge to these children and families, and closes the camps.”
We, as a coalition of organisations and community groups from around Australia, are writing to express our concern regarding the humanitarian crisis that Australia has created.
Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly AustraliaÛªs responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken.
Beyond the reports of physical and sexual abuse, including of children; inadequate medical attention; suicides and attempted suicides; even a murder; the extinguishment of hope has pushed people to the edge.
Many of these people have been recognised as refugees. We owe them protection and safety now.
Meanwhile, politicians are spending years engaged in lengthy negotiations as to the fate of these men, women and children. With the US resettlement deal in serious doubt, the most obvious and humane solution is to clear the camps and bring these people to Australia until a safe long term, appropriate outcome for them can be guaranteed.
We do not have years. Australia cannot allow another person to die or suffer because of our actions.
This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety.