Eighty-eight children are detained at Australia’s detention centre on Nauru. More than 60 asylum seeker children and their families are detained in Australia and are expected to be sent back to Nauru.
Media are denied access, but evidence shows that:
- the children live in swelteringly hot, cramped conditions with little privacy and poor sanitation
- crucial emergency health care for children is not available
- long-term detention damages the health and development of children – after two years in detention, children display a ten-fold increase in psychiatric disorders, including self-harm and suicidal behaviour
- lack of child protection on Nauru has resulted in children in detention being sexually and physically assaulted and the police on Nauru do not have the capacity to investigate these crimes.
Why is this happening?
On 23 March 2015, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “No one wants to see children in detention. No one wants to see children in detention.”
“No one wants to see children in detention. No one wants to see children in detention.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Children are locked up on Nauru as part of the Australian government’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which aims to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat to seek protection in Australia.
But the Australian government has admitted publicly that keeping children in detention is not an essential or effective deterrent to asylum seekers arriving by boat.
The Australian government also recognises the terrible damage done to children by detention. The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Martin Bowles, said: “There is a reasonably solid literature base, which we’re not contesting at all, which associates length of detention with a whole range of adverse health conditions.”
“There is a reasonably solid literature base, which we’re not contesting at all, which associates length of detention with a whole range of adverse health conditions.” Martin Bowles, Department of Immigration and Border Protection
In December 2014, the government even committed to releasing children from detention centres in Australia.
So why won’t the Australian government release children from its detention centre on Nauru?
What can you do?
The asylum seeker children locked up by Australia on Nauru don’t need money. They don’t need toys.
They need freedom to have a happy, safe childhood. Tell the government to give these kids a childhood, not take it away.
Tell the government to give these kids a childhood, not take it away.
Please #ShareaMemory of your childhood through our Lost Children campaign or post your memory on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr with the hashtags #LostChildren and #ShareAMemory
We’ll show the government what their child detention policy is destroying when we deliver your memories to the Australian government, along with the call to release all asylum seeker children and their families on Nauru to Australia.
 Australian Human Rights Commission, “The Forgotten Children” p. 61