Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Bring offshore detainees into Australia

Bring offshore detainees into Australia

Jessica Barber

Year 8, Loreto Normanhurst

Offshore detention is no longer a solution to a problem that urgently needs solving. We may be thinking that putting refugees in this detention is a solution, but it doesn't justify the suffering it causes. In 2017, Amnesty International recorded 25.4 million refugees worldwide, and in the middle of the world's biggest refugee crisis ever we need a better fix. The current direction the Australian Government is taking is resulting in death from poor hygiene and self-harm of innocent refugees who have fled to Australia and put into these camps. Refugees in offshore detention are treated as prisoners without just cause. With death in offshore detention rising we need to take a stand and welcome people in offshore detention into Australia

In July 2018, The Guardian stated that Hamid Kehazaei was just one case that highlights the shocking hygiene issues in offshore detention. Hamid came forward to the limited medical services on the island with an infection in his leg. The infection did not respond well to the antibiotics and his situation declined quickly. Even after multiple requests for him to be sent to Australia for better treatment, he wasn't. Hours after the original request for an urgent medical transfer to Australia he was moved from the camp, but not to the recommended mainland of Australia, but to Port Moresby's Pacific International Hospital. Here, he was treated with broken equipment and misdiagnosed. He was fitted with a child's defibrillator and left with an inexperienced doctor, eventually going into cardiac arrest and organ failure before his life support was turned off.

Information from the ABC in 2017 shows the truth about hygiene in detention, that centres have been reduced to police destroying food supplies and beating the refugees, poisoning the wells and draining the water tanks, even though Australia is legally required to protect them.

Conditions in offshore detention are forcing people into poor states of mental illness and physical health. There was a letter titled the 'Joint Open Letter To The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders And Observers Regarding Australia's Abusive Offshore Refugee Processing Policy' that stated self-harm in Australian offshore detention has the highest rates and possibilities of self-harm and suicide than any other country in the world.

Self-harm in offshore Australian detention is rising. It was reported by The Guardian in 2018 that a total of 12 men have died in Australia's offshore processing, 4 of these confirmed suicides and 3 suspected ones. This is also spreading to children. Many children on Nauru are suffering from resignation syndrome. They are refusing to eat, drink, use the toilet, speak or open their eyes. Australia has commitments under multiple human rights treaties (such as the International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights) to respect and convey human rights to refugees and asylum seekers when they are in Australia (including surrounding oceans). This law also accommodates the inability to detain refugees without reason. This means offshore processing is not only harming innocent people, it is also illegal. The Australian government is continuing to try to lessen its responsibility for the 2000 people in offshore detention and this is resulting in wrongful loss of lives.

The gross failings of our Government to the people we detain in offshore detention must end. Their treatment, under our supposed care and on our watch is inhumane and unjust. But we can change this. Indefinite detention must end, we must bring detainees into Australia for processing and fair treatment of their asylum claims and rights in Australia.