Phelps to serve Morrison with 170k signatures calling for Kids Off Nauru

The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader will be delivered a powerful message today to protest Australia’s inhumane practice of trapping refugee children and their families indefinitely in offshore detention.

A petition containing the names of more than 170,000 concerned Australians will be delivered to the major political parties through the newly-elected member for Wentworth, Independent MP Kerryn Phelps.

Kids Off Nauru supporters will rally on the Parliament House front lawn, Canberra, at 10.30am ahead of a media conference this morning at 11am and the petition delivery.

Since the humanitarian and refugee sectors launched the Kids Off Nauru campaign three months ago, about 110 of the 119 children and their families who were suffering worsening illnesses because of their five years of island detention have been brought to Australia.

Supporter organisations of the Kids Off Nauru campaign have called for Australians to remember the faces of the children, their families and other adults who are locked away in our name.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre director of advocacy and campaigns Jana Favero said telling the truth about offshore detention was shifting the politics and people’s minds about asylum.

"We will make sure men, women and children seeking asylum in Australia find a permanent, safe home to rebuild their lives. Offshore detention makes people sick. Doctors, lawyers and caseworkers have had to step in where the Morrison Government has failed to act in the best interest of children."

World Vision Australia spokesperson Andrew White said the indefinite detention of children should never happen again. “This sinister chapter in Australian history must come to an end,” Mr White said. “Children shouldn’t have to become ill to be rescued from conditions we should never have subjected them to in the first place.”

Refugee Council of Australia spokesperson Kelly Nicholls said the campaign highlighted the extreme suffering caused by offshore processing and the inadequate medical care for those in Nauru, a situation that is “even more dire in Manus Island”. "We cannot rest until every single child and their family is off Nauru and resettled in Australia or an appropriate third country where they can begin to heal and rebuild their lives," Ms Nicholls said.

Save the Children director of policy and international programs said: “Save the Children has seen first-hand the distress and hardship endured by children languishing indefinitely on Nauru. One day in effective detention for an innocent child is unacceptable, five years is a disgrace.”

Oxfam Australia chief executive Dr Helen Szoke said: “Oxfam urges all MPs to put aside politics and take immediate steps towards ensuring the lives of these children are protected. Australia is a nation with a strong economy, a capacity to resettle a large number of people and a proven history of managing refugee resettlement effectively.

Plan International CEO Susanne Legena said: “An overwhelming majority of Australians have had enough: they do not support this torture being carried out in their names. This has gone on for far too long.”

The Kids Off Nauru coalition calls on politicians to:

  • End indefinite detention of refugee children and their families on Nauru
  • Offer permanent, safe homes for families who have been evacuated
  • End cruel policy of indefinite offshore detention of refugees because it makes people sick.

More than 170,000 individual Australians, 420 organisations and 65 ambassadors have signed up to the Kids Off Nauru call in the three-month campaign. Only 40 percent of Australians knew children were detained on Nauru when the campaign launched but a recent poll published in the Sunday Telegraph said that awareness had risen to 80 percent.

Media contacts:

Alys Francis Media Officer, Plan International Australia
Tel: 0476 287 787
Email: alys.francis@plan.org.au

Lily Partland Media Manager, Plan International Australia
Tel: 0418 118 687
Email: lily.partland@plan.org.au

About Plan International

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination. And it’s girls who are most affected. Working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.

We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood. And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge.

We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 75 years, and are now active in more than 70 countries.