Government should refer Nauru child abuse allegations to Royal Commission

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The peak bodies for aid and development and social welfare organisations are today calling on the Australian Government to refer child abuse cases on Nauru to the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

For people in Australia to be satisfied that the human rights of children in the Nauru detention facility are being protected, it is vital that Commonwealth action, or lack of action, on child abuse be investigated by an independent commission.

“The findings of the Senate Inquiry into Recent Allegations relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru around the extent, nature and responses to child sexual abuse are alarming,” said the Executive Director of the Australian Council for International Development, Mr Marc Purcell.

“It is vital that a proper independent analysis is conducted on these cases and recommendations are made as to how the future abuse of children in Nauru can be prevented,” said the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council of Social Services, Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine.

“Repeated instances of child abuse uncovered by the Senate Inquiry are deeply disturbing. We are not satisfied that the situation of children in the Nauru detention centre has improved; nor that they are being adequately protected from abuse or repeated abuse,” Dr Boyd-Caine said.

“The Government has made it harder for reports of abuse to be made, and the stories of those who have been abused to be told, by imposing new regulations that gag professionals, including doctors and social workers, from speaking about what they witness in the detention facility,” Mr Purcell said.

“ACFID has consistently called for children to be removed from off shore detention centres because of the risk of child abuse and we have always advocated a strong position on children’s rights and this is reflected in the ACFID Code of Conduct,” he said.

Media Contacts:

ACFID Lyn Larkin – 0400 343 227 [email protected]

ACOSS Fernando de Freitas – 0419 626 155