NFPs Call for Royal Commission to Examine Nauru Abuse
Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 1:21 pm
Australia’s peak bodies for welfare and international aid have called for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to urgently examine incidents of child abuse and harm in the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Nauru.
The call by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) follows the publication by the Guardian Australia on Wednesday of more than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru – totalling more than 8,000 pages.
The Nauru files set out reports of the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions experienced by asylum seekers held by the Australian Government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty.
ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said the leaked incident reports were shocking in their detail and revealed the horrifying level of abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru .
“We have a royal commission tasked with investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse. In the face of the extraordinary evidence of such abuse and harassment of children in immigration detention in Nauru there must be an investigation into whether this is an explicit breach of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s duty of care,” Purcell said.
“The commission should absolutely consider it within its scope to examine the Commonwealth Government’s actions in these places and, in light of the immigration minister’s responsibilities as legal custodian of these children, examine whether there has been a failure to uphold those duties.
“It is simply not tenable for the royal commission to continue to focus solely on historical abuse when serious incidents of the abuse of children in the Australian Government’s care are apparently occurring right now.”
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The royal commission already has the power to investigate the treatment of children in these centres. With more than 1,000 documented cases of child abuse, including many involving sexual abuse, it is clear the commission must act.”
ACFID and ACOSS also called for the immediate transfer of children and their families from immigration detention on Nauru to community arrangements in Australia.
“The leaked files have again demonstrated that the situation on Nauru is not safe for children,” they said in a joint statement.
Earlier the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said the leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru laid bare the devastating trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention.
ASRC CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis told Pro Bono Australia News he was shocked and appalled but “sadly not surprised” by the details in the files.
“This has to be the final straw. Australians should be shocked and appalled. It is just extraordinary. This is child abuse happening in a government run institution,” Karapanagiotidis said.
“We know about it and our government is letting it happen. This is not the first time. We have had the Moss Report that has said very similar things before.We know from the Gillian Triggs [Human Rights Commissioner] report that child abuse is a major issue in our detention centres. How many more scandals, how many more child abuse reports do we need to have before someone does something.”
Karapanagiotidis has begun a social media campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #bringthemhere.