Babies and children to go back to Nauru

| February 15, 2016

Hundreds continue to rally outside a Brisbane hospital against the deportation of an asylum seeker infant known as Asha. She is one of 267 refugees currently in Australia due to be sent back to detention on Naru. Angela Beresford says the Government’s tough stance makes her blood boil.

Just over a year ago, the Australian Human Rights Commission produced The Forgotten Children Report which provided comprehensive evidence of the physical, mental and emotional harm being done to children in detention.

It reported how children as young as three were suffering depression and detailed 128 incidents of self-harm amongst children, including 27 incidents of voluntary starvation, 3 attempted hangings and 5 incidents of self-strangulation.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, their most recent report, The Health and Well-being of Children in Immigration Detention, reiterates similar horrific and distressing findings. It describes how some children have witnessed atrocities at home, have survived a traumatic boat trip and have been moved between several onshore and offshore detention centres; and the cumulative impact of one episode of trauma upon another has resulted in these children being amongst the most traumatised paediatricians have ever seen. The overarching conclusion remains that “prolonged immigration detention is both unlawful and harmful to the mental and physical health and well-being of children”.

Alarmingly, Dr Francis, a paediatrician, described how one seven-year-old girl, who had attempted suicide, had drawn pictures of her own funeral, which I struggle to comprehend and makes me sick to my stomach. Even the Border Force’s own chief doctor, Dr Brayley, has said that, “Immigration detention is “not the right place” for children and “the scientific evidence is that detention affects the mental state of children”.

Staggeringly, the High Court has recently ruled that Government officials have the legal right under the Constitution and the retrospective amendments to the Migration Act, to send children and their families to Nauru or any other designated offshore processing centre.

And so, with absolutely no regard for international law, human rights, social justice or dignity and completely no sense, rationale, intelligence or compassion the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has revealed that 160 adults, 37 babies and 54 children currently in Australia will be sent back to Naru.

It begs the question: Where is the sense, logic or intelligence in it, let alone the rights, dignity or humanity? This outright atrocity seriously makes my blood boil. It makes me wonder if the decision makers even read any of the reports. Or if they do, how do they manage to ignore and disregard the horrifying and nauseating evidence of traumatised children attempting suicide?

If the decision makers had any wisdom at all or used any amount of rationale, they surely would be pursuing opportunities to bring an end to this appalling and disgraceful cruelty?



  1. Jimi Smith

    February 23, 2016 at 1:56 am

    What is the right solution then?

    Hi Angela I share your concern in relation to this matter but noted the absence of solutions in your blog. The whole concept toted by advocates "let everyone in and allow them to stay" is short sighted and not a viable option as it would rapidly crumble the fabric of our current societies and communities as some places in EU will now experience. The world is in a terrible state with a good number of the issues being driven by hate, religion and any other reason or excuse that can be thrown into the air. There are many many millions of men women and children suffering in the world not just at this time but in reality always. I don't think that there is a simple answer or solution to any of these matters including allowing children from Naru to remain in Australia. Historically a good number of those claiming asylum have already used their children as pawns to gain easy access to Australia and others will know doubt continue to do so if given the opportunity. Immigration ethos state families will not be separated so in allowing the children to remain so must the adult family members and therein lies the point of exploit. I don't believe children should be in detention but I also believe that boarder protection is a clear requirement for many good reasons. The flood of people that arrived to this country illegally in the last five years equated to many 10's of thousands of men women and children at a cost of many many billions of dollars. I'm not reducing this to a matter of monetary expense but think the view needs to be macro as opposed to micro with the micro being a sole focus of children in detention.