1 September, 2015 - All children must be released from offshore detention now: Plan

Child rights organisation Plan International Australia is renewing its call to remove all children from Australia’s offshore detention centres, following the release of a Senate select committee report that found that our detention centre in Nauru is "not adequate, appropriate or safe for the asylum seekers detained there".

The report, released late yesterday, said that children are particularly vulnerable to harm, abuse and assault and recommended they be released from detention immediately. There are currently 86 children being held in detention in Nauru.

“We have long said that offshore detention centres are no place for a child, and this report makes that all the more plain. We are locking up children, some of whom are not even accompanied by their parents or families, and that’s something Australia ought to be ashamed of,” says Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart.

“But it’s not too late to do something about it. The Senate committee’s report is demanding that all children held in Nauru are released from the centre immediately, and we emphatically back that call,” Wishart says.

“We want to see children released from all of Australia’s offshore detention centres, no matter where they are. They are not suitable or safe for children. We have a duty of care to these children and we are failing in our duty,” he adds.

Earlier this year, an independent review by former integrity commissioner Philip Moss found that some cases of sexual and physical assault in Nauru were going unreported. More recently, former child protection workers on Nauru have alleged sexual and physical abuse of asylum seeker children, as well as significant ongoing harm to children there.

“We know that children in Nauru are clearly at risk of daily harm. We have been told that before and now we have yet another authoritative finding that tells us so – how many times do we need to be told what we are doing to children on our watch before we do something about it?”

“This is completely unacceptable, especially to a country like Australia which rightly takes pride in placing the protection of its own children above all else. We simply would not accept this kind of treatment for our own children, so it’s impossible to see why we should tolerate it for any children in our care,” Wishart says.

He also renewed Plan International Australia’s call for an independent monitor for children in immigration detention.

Editors’ notes:

Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945