Baby Asha and the political grandstanding of #LetThemStay

Baby Asha and the political grandstanding of #LetThemStay

Terry Barnes – The Drum – Wed, 24 Feb 2016

“…. instead of crossing the fine line between moral protest and vigilantism, the opponents of border protection and mandatory detention have a golden opportunity to influence the democratic process in this, a federal election year.

“They should use it. In doing so, however, they must respect that a great many of us don’t share their outspoken views, believe deterring people smuggling by harsh measures is painful but necessary, and accept that equality before the law comes before any one individual’s plight, no matter how cute and innocent they may be.

“And if public opinion, as reflected in the election result, endorses the continuation of border protection and mandatory detention policies, opponents should accept that outcome as an expression of democratic will.”

Read the full article here

(It’s also worthwhile reading the comments at the bottom.)

Baby Asha and the shadow of ‘children overboard’

Baby Asha and the shadow of ‘children overboard’ – Jeff Sparrow

The Drum – Wed 25 Feb 2016

“As many have pointed out, there are obvious echoes of “children overboard” in Peter Dutton’s reaction to Baby Asha.

“On Monday, Dutton told Parliament that the Government would not be “blackmailed” or “held to ransom”. In any other context, the image of the Turnbull Government bravely resisting the threat posed by an injured baby would have seemed laughable. But when it comes to refugees, up is down and black is white. Hence Dutton could speak almost as if sending Asha back to the ill-equipped facilities in Nauru was a matter of humanitarianism: he refused, he said, to preside over a situation where people were “self-harming to come to hospitals in this country”.”

Read the full article here

New AHRC report reveals alarming impact of detention on children

New AHRC report reveals alarming impact of detention on children

The health and well-being of children in immigration detention

AHRC Report Feb 2016

A medical team led by the Australian Human Rights Commission has uncovered concerning evidence about the mental and physical health of children held at the Wickham Point detention facility in Darwin. The Commission is very concerned that these are the children the Government intends to return to Nauru.

Of the children over eight years old who had previously lived on Nauru, 95% were assessed using the Childhood Trauma Screening Questionnaire as being in the ‘clinical’ range, signifying a risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

All of the children screened using the Parent Evaluation of Development scale were in the top two score categories for development risk, higher than any published results for this screening tool anywhere in the world.  A report detailing these findings was provided to the Department of Immigration and Minister for Immigration in November 2015.

Paediatricians Professor Elizabeth Elliott and Dr Hasantha Gunasekera both have extensive experience in assessing asylum seeker and refugee children. They joined the Commission’s visit to Wickham Point detention facility in October.

The doctors interviewed and assessed the children using internationally recognised tools appropriate for their ages.

“These children, most of whom had spent months in Nauru, are among the most traumatised we have ever seen in our 50 years of combined professional experience,” said Professor Elliott.

“We were deeply disturbed by the numbers of young children who expressed intent to self-harm and talked openly about suicide and by those who had already self-harmed,” said Dr Gunasekera.

Professor Elliott and Dr Gunasekera recommended that under no circumstances should any child detained on the mainland be sent to Nauru.

“Many of the children had palpable anticipatory trauma at mention of return to Nauru,” said Professor Elliott. “Nauru is a totally inappropriate place for asylum seeking children to live, either in the detention centre or in the community.”

“The only appropriate management of this situation is to remove the children from the environment which is causing or exacerbating their mental ill-health,” said Dr Gunasekera.

The Commission warns that moving the children and their families back to Nauru could place Australia at risk of breaching its international obligations to ensure people are not subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“Given the risk of harm to these children and their need for ongoing medical care, we strongly urge the Government not to return them to Nauru,” said Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Read the report:

Speech by Professor Gillian Triggs:


If We Let The Babies Stay

If We Let The Babies Stay, Who Knows What Could Happen!


Ben Eltham weighs in on the latest Australian outrage being perpetrated against some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  New Matilda – 4 Feb 2016

“For those of us who oppose the torture of children (did I just write that? Yes, yes I did) these are dark times. Our public debate has become so debauched that it now seems possible that the government of our nation will deport babies born in this country – who should be Australian citizens – to a foreign hell-hole where sexual abuse is rife, and where we know that indefinite detention is akin to torture.”

Read full article here

Nauru: How long can we keep lying to ourselves?

Nauru: How long can we keep lying to ourselves?

Waleed Ali 1

The history of asylum seeker policy in Australia will be remembered as a story of how successive governments legislated their lies to justify a world of make-believe borders and imaginary compliance.

Article by Waleed Ali in The Age – 4 Feb 2016

Includes a video clip from the Anglican Bishop of Brisbane speaking about the recent offer of sanctuary to families in the community, and the risks involved.

See the full article here


How has it come to this?

How has it come to this?

Our asylum-seeker system has been taken over by a rigid, irrational mindset