The Unacceptable Treatment of Asylum Seekers

CEO Social Justice Blog

Recent reports of increasing incidents of self-harm amongst asylum seekers held in secure detention in Australia and Nauru are a real concern. Attempted suicide, self-mutilation, scalding with boiling water and banging of heads on walls are occurring within detention centres at the rate of 2 incidents per day.

This news is disturbing enough. We should be even more concerned that there are currently 174 children living in these detention centres witnessing such events.

Samaritans has argued for several years now that children in detention centres are surely at risk of being abused or witnessing abuse and that the incarceration of children with or without their parents is a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and also a breach of State Child Protection legislation.

When these children reach adulthood, they will undoubtedly lodge complaints and there will be calls for a public apology or a Royal Commission but why wait this long?

Both our major political parties mistakenly believe that we can treat children this way because it will help achieve a more orderly process of asylum applications and fewer deaths at sea.

However, I believe it is never acceptable to do something which is morally wrong even if this helps achieve an acceptable option. I hope that one day we, as a community, can have a serious discussion on moral dilemmas such as these.

Samaritans is a charity that assists thousands of people in need throughout Newcastle & the Hunter. Find out how Samaritans can help you here