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Issue #1702      September 16, 2015

Report on Nauru abuse

The Senate Inquiry into Nauru has released its report revealing shocking information about the abuses against children in detention in Nauru. A total of 67 cases of physical and sexual abuse against children were revealed by the Inquiry, which included 30 cases of abuse by detention centre staff. There has been a stark lack of accountability in relation to these abuses against children, with not a single person being charged or convicted.

ChilOut released a statement about the report highlighting that all children in detention in Nauru face a high risk of abuse. Our Campaign Coordinator Claire Hammerton said, “ChilOut believes that there are many more cases of child abuse than what was revealed in the Senate Inquiry.

We know of children who have not reported sexual abuse by detention centre staff due to reasons including cultural sensitivities, fear of adverse consequences for reporting and a belief that reporting is useless because no action will be taken. All children deserve to be free and grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Children in immigration detention are no less deserving of this than children living in the Australian community.”

ChilOut has called for all children to be removed from the Nauru detention centre and brought back to Australia as a matter of urgency. We have also called for the government to stop the slated transfer of children to Nauru who are currently in immigration detention in Australia. Our Youth Ambassador, Mohammad Ali Baqiri, spoke to ABC Radio about the horrific experience of being in detention and about his hope that all children are soon released.

Darwin Detention Centre

In August, ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator and Youth Ambassadors travelled to Darwin to visit children at Wickham Point Detention Centre and present a workshop at a Youth Human Rights Summit.

Unfortunately, ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors were not granted access to the detention centre before leaving Darwin. However, ChilOut’s Campaign Coordinator was given access (after extending her stay in Darwin) and visited several families who were all temporarily transferred to Wickham Point Detention Centre from Nauru.

She met with children ranging in age from two weeks to 17 years and was deeply concerned by the information provided to her by families and by the overall mental health state of the children and parents she met with. These concerns included:

  • Most families had spent more than two years in detention and were feeling increasingly hopeless about ever being released from detention. Many children were depressed, suicidal and some had engaged in self harm;
  • Some children who had survived sexual abuse in Nauru knew of other children who had experienced sexual violence in Nauru and had not reported it;
  • All families spoke about the abhorrent conditions in Nauru including: living in tents with up to 12 other families in extreme heat and humidity with no air conditioning; mould growing on tents and tents leaking when it rained;
  • Unhygienic toilets and wash facilities including lack of toilet paper and toilets being out of order; long waiting periods to receive medical care and insufficient mental health care, particularly for children;
  • Every child expressed fear of being sent back to Nauru. All families had all been told they would eventually be sent back and many children could not sleep at night due to fear of being forcibly transferred in the middle of the night, as other asylum seekers had been;
  • Although many families said that detention in Darwin was preferable to detention in Nauru, there were major issues reported with the conditions at Wickham Point Detention Centre such as lack of play, recreational or other appropriate facilities for children under 5 years.

ChilOut will continue advocating for the release of children from detention in Australia and Nauru until every last child is free.

Part of our work involves educating the community and raising awareness and, whilst in Darwin, ChilOut’s Youth Ambassadors were grateful to have the opportunity to run an interactive workshop on children in detention as part of the UN Youth and MyNT Human Rights Summit.

The workshop was presented to high school students based in Darwin who were very engaged on the topic and expressed a strong desire to take action to help children in detention.

Numbers

Despite the government’s promise that children would be released from detention in the early months of 2015, there are still over 200 children in Australian-run immigration detention centres. Many of these children have been in detention for years. According to the latest official statistics there are:

  • 118 children in immigration detention centres in the Australian mainland; and
  • 87 children in immigration detention in Nauru.

Kidz4Kidz Video

The wonderful students from Mount St Benedict High School who started the Kidz4Kidz initiative have produced a powerful video to highlight the plight of children in detention and ensure their voices are not silenced. Their video has received over 60,000 views and is definitely worth checking out! ChilOut supports the fantastic work of Kidz4Kidz and will work with them to fight for the release of children in detention.

Concert

On Saturday September 19, a group of Melbourne-based musicians and musical acts will come together to raise money for children in detention.

To draw attention to the plight of children in detention and the powerlessness of these children, the musicians will perform without any amplification or powered instruments.

The concert will be held at Northcote Uniting Church Hall located at 251 High Street, Northcote Victoria. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children.

All proceeds will be generously donated to ChilOut and we encourage everyone to go along and give their support to this fabulous group of musicians!

Thank You

A big thank you to all the runners and their families who ran the 14kilometres City2Surf race on August 9 to raise money for ChilOut. We are so grateful for your support. A special shout out also goes to Sophie Bray who individually raised $2,235 for ChilOut! Thank you Sophie for your incredible support and for raising your voice loudly and clearly for children in immigration detention.

* ChilOut is a not-for-profit community group seeking to raise public awareness about the plight of children in immigration detention centres. We do so by providing accurate information showing what is happening to children inside Australia’s immigration detention facilities. Our primary concern is the protection of children, that they are afforded their basic rights, freedom, healthcare, education and play. And that Australia does not have a hand in abusing and damaging children seeking our protection.

Next article – Free the Syrians in detention

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