Nauru Detention Centre must be closed

The Uniting Church is renewing its call for the immediate closure of the Nauru detention centre after another damning report into the centre’s operations.

The Senate Select Committee’s report released on Monday describes a disturbing lack of transparency and accountability about what is happening in the centre. It raises serious issues about the safety and wellbeing of people and concludes that the detention centre is ‘not adequate, appropriate or safe’ for asylum seekers.

Mr Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia said, “It is Australia’s moral responsibility to ensure that asylum seekers are safe in these centres. But they are not safe. How many reports and allegations of the abuse and sexual assault of women and children do we need before the Government takes action?”

“The Uniting Church has long been calling on the Australian Government to close the detention centre on Nauru and bring everyone to Australia. The Government should act immediately on the Committee’s recommendation that all children and their families be released,” said Stuart.Continue Reading

Detention adds death to distress and despair


Part of what makes our nation and our society so great is the Australian concept of a ‘fair go’, along with the willingness to ‘lend a hand.’ It is part of our core business as churches and community organisations to care for the vulnerable, for the stranger. Indeed you could suggest it is part of every Australian’s DNA to care for those in need. It is with great sadness then that we must admit that we have neglected to lend a hand to asylum seekers and we are not providing them with anything closely related to a ‘fair go’. Instead our detention policies are actually adding distress to despair – and now death as well. Mohammad Nazim Najafi, aged in his mid-twenties, died a lonely death last Friday evening.

The Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) has been working with a number of churches and community groups visiting asylum seekers in Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre (IDC), on the outskirts of Northam since the centre was opened in 2012. We have come to personally know many of the asylum seekers who are detained there, with friendships formed and affection shared. Their stories are all unique, and yet share similar threads – longings for loved ones, memories of war and persecution, journeys of peril, and always, a desire to work, to contribute and ultimately give back to Australian society.

So it is with troubled hearts that we share this reality: detention and the length of time it is taking to complete the claims assessment process is killing our friends. We have slowly watched the despair rise to levels we did not dare believe it could go. Just last week the debilitating hopelessness that indefinite detention brings contributed to the death of a young asylum seeker at the Yongah Hill IDC. In the past year two men with Bridging Visas have taken their own lives in Perth. We cannot let such tragedies occur so quietly. We invite you to share our dismay, our outrage and demand another way. The halls of these detention centres and the processes of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have too many shadows for a democracy such as ours.Continue Reading

Church leaders hold prayer vigil inside Josh Frydenberg’s Melbourne Office


Advocates for children suffering in detention welcome today’s decision to release SOME of the children from detention, but intend to stay until they have a timetabled commitment from the Government for ALL children to be released.

Christian leaders concerned about all vulnerable children in Australia’s detention centres are holding a prayer vigil inside the Camberwell electorate office of Josh Frydenberg, Liberal Member for Kooyong and Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The group entered Mr Frydenberg’s office at 10.00am and say they intend to remain until they get a timetabled commitment from the Government that all children will be released from immigration detention centres.

The group welcomes today’s decision by the Government to release a small contingent of children and celebrate this as victory for the whole movement and is a step forward in the right direction.  However, there are still grave concerns for the 662 children outside the criteria of release who will remain in detention and we will not stop until every last child is released from the cruelty of detention. Continue Reading