Last night’s episode of Four Corners and the release of a major report by Amnesty International must be the final straw for Australia’s offshore processing policies.
Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia Phil Glendenning has called on the Federal Government and Opposition to put aside partisan politics and immediately act in response to the first-hand accounts from refugees and former staff on Nauru.
“The distressing reports of violence, abuse, self-harm and neglect featured on last night’sFour Corners and in a report released by Amnesty International cannot be ignored by Australia’s politicians,” Mr Glendenning said.
“Last week, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten came together in a moment of bipartisanship to support a non-discriminatory immigration policy and to denounce racism. It’s time they put their words into action and work together to bring those sent to Nauru and Manus Island to safety in Australia.
“Australia cannot shirk its responsibility to the people on Nauru and Manus Island any longer. It is an utter tragedy and disgrace that our policies have been designed to crush their hopes and spirits to the point that children on Nauru self-harm and contemplate suicide.
“Something needs to be done urgently to end the cruelty and inhumanity of offshore processing. Every politician in the Australian Parliament has a duty to act.
“Even John Howard realised that indefinite detention in offshore centres was unsustainable and resettled people in Australia when he was Prime Minister. There is no reason why Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten cannot do the same.
“Once we have brought refugees and people seeking asylum from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia, we must then ensure that this sad chapter in our history is never repeated. In the words of Judith Reen, a former school coordinator with Save the Children who was interviewed on Four Corners: I just want to make sure it doesn’t happen to another generation.
“Enough is enough. It’s time for a better way.”