It’s really looking like the tides are turning. Last week was enormous for refugees and we saw a government under huge pressure, and on the defensive.
The week started with a harrowing 4 Corners Episode, ‘The Forgotten Children’ featuring never seen before interviews of children on Nauru and our very own Anna Neistat — Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research — talking about her findings from her recent research trip to the island. It was a devastating glimpse into the conditions faced by refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru.
We didn’t stop there. Straight after 4 Corners, the full report ‘Island of Despair: Australia’s “processing” of refugees on Nauru‘ was released which outlines all of Anna’s findings.
Anna Neistat is one of the few people who has managed to enter the remote and secretive island to investigate human rights abuses. She says:
“On Nauru, the Australian Government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia.”
The report attracted a huge media response both here in Australia and overseas. Some highlights include The New York Times piece ‘Australia’s Stranded Refugee Prisoners‘, the SBS Backburner’s ‘Government Claims Being Accused of Torture on Nauru is The Real Torture’, and Waleed Aly’s piece on The Project:
There was also great coverage in:
After mounting pressure in the media, by a High Court challenge from Doctors for Refugees and loads of civil society organisations, the government backed down and lifted the restrictions on health care workers speaking out about what they see on Manus and Nauru.
This is a great step. It means these health professionals will be able to blow the whistle on abuse they witness without the threat of a two year jail term hanging over their head. Unfortunately for other staff including teachers, lawyers, social workers and security staff this threat remains very real.
Between this announcement and countless media interviews, Anna was in Canberra with our National Director Claire Mallinson meeting with politicians from all sides to discuss the report findings and policy solutions to help end the abuse.
To cap the week off, Anna spoke at an event in Melbourne called Courageous Conversations. It was live streamed on our national Facebook page and viewed by 3,600 people! You can watch it here:
Meanwhile, the resource page is updated with all you need to continue campaigning in your community. The pressure is building in the media, and we know the real clincher will be when the majority of Australians stand together to say they will not accept continued abuse of refugees at the hands of our government.
Your work reaching out to people in your community and educating them is more important now than ever. Thank you.