Get people on Nauru and Papua New Guinea to safety

March update on Game Over: get people to safety

Human rights advocate and Game Over ambassador Craig Foster updates us on the campaign to end offshore detention and get people trapped in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to safety.

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Game Over campaign. We’re now a movement of 50,000 everyday Australians and building. Together we are demanding that Prime Minister Scott Morrison gets all those currently detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to safety.

8 men stand in front of a battered football goal posts.
Craig Foster with some of the men that the Australian Government has left in Port Morseby. October 2019. © AI


Our collective voice has kept the pressure on the Australian government:

  • When we started the Game Over campaign in September 2019, the Australian Government was detaining 612 people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru. Now, 439 people remain.
  • Amnesty and Human Rights Watch shone a light on the conditions in the notorious Bomana Immigration Centre in Port Moresby, attracting the world’s attention and leading to the centre’s closure. In the centre asylum seekers had no access to phones or the internet, and allegations of torture were rife.
  • The government has now evacuated to Australia seven of the eight women still on Nauru. This is thanks to work from the Medical Evacuation Response Group (MERG), made up of #GameOver partners such as the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Human Rights Law Centre, National Justice Project, Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Refugee Legal and the Refugee Council of Australia.

These are all important steps towards getting all people to safety, and it is vital that we acknowledge that progress is being made. But rather than complacency, this news should inspire and motivate us all to keep up the fight.

What else has been happening?

I recently visited Moz and Farhad, two refugees the Australian Government is holding at the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne. This is a place that the government refers to as an Alternative Place of Detention (APODs).

I first met Moz on my trip to Papua New Guinea at the end of last year. I consider him a friend. Under doctors’ advice, the government had brought Moz to Australia due to severe asthma. This was in November before the government repealed the Medevac Bill.

I didn’t think conditions could get worse for Moz. Yet what was meant to be a refuge has become just another nightmare. Locked in his room for 19 hours a day, he has almost no access to the outside world, let alone the proper treatment he was brought to Australia to receive.

He’s gone from one form of detention to another, and simply traded barbed wire for keycards.

Craig Foster (left) and Moz (right), a young man with dark hair, in a plain room with a beige background.
Craig Foster meets Moz in Papua New Guinea, October 2019. Credit: AI

This is not resettlement. My visit to the Mantra has only strengthened my resolve to ensure we get all those in PNG, Nauru and other places of detention around Australia to safety.

What you can do

We need to keep the momentum up and keep building this campaign to make sure the decision makers in Canberra hear our collective voice. There’s two ways to help today:

1. Social profile frame

Add this frame to your social media accounts to show your networks that you support safe, long-term and sustainable resettlement options.

2. Share the stories

3. Near Wollongong? Come to a #GameOver match this Saturday

On Saturday 14 March, one of our partnering sports clubs Albion Park City FC will play in the FFA cup with 10 refugees from PNG and Nauru on their shirts. I encourage anyone in the area who is able, to get down to Terry Reserve, Albion Park for a 12.30pm kick off to show your support.

What’s next?

I’ve been busy at work creating a coalition of organisations and sports clubs to join us; you can see some of the early results here. Keep an eye out for future updates in this space as we’ve got some big announcements coming.

People have been in detention for seven years. Our government must let people move on with their lives so they can resettle, rebuild and recover. I know that together we can make this happen.