10 August 2016
Australia’s peak body for aid and international development, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and peak body for social welfare, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) have today called for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to urgently examine incidents of child abuse and harm in the Australian-run immigration detention centre on Nauru.
“Today the Guardian Australia published 2,000 leaked incident reports that are shocking in their detail and the horrifying level of abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru they revealed,” said ACFID CEO Marc Purcell.
“We have a Royal Commission tasked with investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse. In the face of the extraordinary evidence of such abuse and harassment of children in immigration detention in Nauru there must be an investigation into whether this is an explicit breach of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s duty of care,” Marc Purcell said.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “The Royal Commission already has the power to investigate the treatment of children in these centres. With more than 1,000 documented cases of child abuse, including many involving sexual abuse, it is clear the Commission must act.”
Mr Purcell said: “The Commission should absolutely consider it within its scope to examine the Commonwealth Government’s actions in these places and, in light of the Immigration Minister’s responsibilities as legal custodian of these children, examine whether there has been a failure to uphold those duties.
“It is simply not tenable for the Royal Commission to continue to focus solely on historical abuse when serious incidents of the abuse of children in the Australian Government’s care are apparently occurring right now.”
ACFID and ACOSS called for the immediate transfer of children and their families from immigration detention on Nauru to community arrangements in Australia given the leaked files have again demonstrated that the situation on Nauru is not safe for children.
ACFID: Deborah Nesbitt – 0451 682 008
ACOSS: Anthony Reed – 0419 626 155