Kids Off Nauru


Getting the Children Off Nauru

At the time of writing this article, there were about 50 children on Nauru who are part of families that were seeking asylum in Australia. That is 50 too many.

It has been documented that the children transferred to Nauru have been suffering from ‘resignation syndrome’. Resignation syndrome was first reported in the 1990s in Sweden, and mainly affected psychologically traumatized children and adolescents. Children experiencing this illness become so depressed that they begin to lack critical mental functioning, leading to withdrawal and a decrease in consciousness. Recovery from this syndrome can take months or even years. Doctors who have visited Nauru have reported that the medical facilities on the island do not have the capacity to treat the sick and sometimes suicidal children, and that the cause of the illness is the state of being held in detention. Therefore, one way to helping these children recover is to bring them off the island of Nauru along with their families to Australia, where they can be treated adequately and humanely.

The Justice Cluster is part of a coalition alongside the Refugee Council of Australia which is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to free the children trapped on Nauru by Universal Children’s Day, November 20th.

The Wentworth election

Now that Dr. Kerryn Phelps has won the seat of Wentworth, the Coalition Government has lost their one seat majority in parliament. This provides hope to refugee advocates across the nation, including many of you reading this right now.

Both the Liberal and Labor candidate for Wentworth did not attend the town hall meeting on the issue of people seeking asylum on October 14th. In contrast, Dr. Phelps, former president of the Australian Medical Association, attended the forum and has been vocal about her support to get children and their families off Nauru.

Polling in the Wentworth electorate conducted by the Refugee Council of Australia before the election showed that the voters there cared about this issue and want the children and their families brought to Australia. Faith leaders in Wentworth were active in informing voters there about the issues on Nauru and were actively mobilising people to vote for a candidate that wants to bring people seeking asylum to Australia.

Cross party bill to get kids off Nauru

We are now seeing cross-party support to get children off Nauru.

The Coalition government and the Labor Opposition are discussing the settlement of the people who were seeking asylum that are on Nauru to third countries, especially New Zealand.

Three Liberal backbenchers – Russell Broadbent, Craig Laundy and Julia Banks, have urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do more on the issue. However the Coalition government’s Bill from 2016, which aimed to ban asylum seekers who arrive by boat from ever being allowed into Australia,  has been scrutinized for including the life-time bans.

Andrew Wilkie, Independent MP from Tasmania, has recently presented another Bill that would temporarily bring children and their families on Nauru to Australia for medical treatment. This Bill has support from the Greens and Independent Rebekha Sharkie.

The newly introduced Bill includes amendments to the Migration Act 1958 that make it possible for minors to be taken off Nauru and be brought to Australia for medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment and be accompanied by a family member.

We will keep our readers informed about the Bill and lobby to avoid sub-standard conditions or rights for refugees settled in New Zealand or elsewhere. We also want legislation to avoid a permanent ban on people ever entering Australia if they are arrived by boat. In this edition of the JustAct, you will find postcards to help get Kids Off Nauru. We hope you can participate in this action alongside your congregation and families.

To order postcards on this issue please click below. Include in the email your name, postal address and how many postcards you would like.