#KidsoffNauru – it’s time to #Bringthemhere. All of them.

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A word from our CEO, Brad Webb:

The culmination of years of advocacy, a campaign called #KidsoffNauru and a worsening refugee health crisis will hopefully see all asylum seeker children currently on Nauru removed from the island next month.

Advocates such as the Refugee Action Network Newcastle and the Grandmothers Against the Detention of Refugee Children have been trying to get this issue in front of the eyes of the general public for many years. It seems like the message of #KidsoffNauru is finally cutting through and public opinion is shifting.

For many years, Samaritans has stood firm on this issue: we strongly disagree with the policy of locking up children in detention centres.

After the Forgotten Children Report in 2015, former Samaritans CEO Cec Shevels expressed disappointment at the response from the Federal Government and reiterated that we believe the incarceration of children to be a breach of NSW Child Protection Legislation as well as the UN Convention on the rights of the child.

There have been numerous reports prior to the Forgotten Children Report, and many since, including UNHCR warnings dating back to 2013 and The Nauru Files report from The Guardian newspaper in 2016. All of these revealed the scale of mental illness and abuse experienced not just by children, but by adult detainees as well.

While last week’s unofficial announcement from former Attorney-General, George Brandis, confirmed that all children will be off Nauru by Christmas, this certainly is not a time for celebration.

These children have experienced tremendous suffering. It was reported recently some were experiencing a severe trauma-related psychological disorder called resignation syndrome. Their mental health alone will take a very long time to recover.

Australians are compassionate people. We do not believe in the suffering of children, and I know this extends to the continuous punishment of any refugee who is seeking safety, regardless of age.

Sadly, there is currently no commitment from either political party to remove the 1000+ refugee adults that still remain on Nauru and Manus Island. These people are also suffering similar symptoms and experiences as the children.

Back in 2014, Cec shevels said he believed one day as a nation we would be called to account for our harsh responses to people who seek asylum here. I wholeheartedly agree.

As a country, we need to do better. State sanctioned suffering is not acceptable for Australians who are born here or who migrate here – so why is it ok for refugees to be treated this way, in Australia’s name?

Indefinite detention should never be the solution; not for children, not for anyone. #Bringthemhere.