George Brandis talks timeline for children’s removal from Nauru

Amanda Lyons

1/11/2018 11:07:00 AM

The former Attorney-General and current High Commissioner to the UK has declared all asylum seeker children are likely to be removed from Nauru by the end of this year.

High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis has told a British radio program that all asylum seeker children will be removed from Nauru by the end of the year. (Image: Lukas Coch)
High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis has told a British radio program that all asylum seeker children will be removed from Nauru by the end of the year. (Image: Lukas Coch)

Mr Brandis made the comment during an interview on British talkback station LBC while defending the Australian Government’s policy on asylum seekers, particularly with regards to children.
‘This is a problem that has largely gone away. There are hardly any children in Nauru and in New Guinea, and we expect that by the end of this year there’ll be none,’ he said.
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon, who had previously been concerned that the care received by refugees and asylum seekers is ‘anything but acceptable’, has welcome the decision.
‘The RACGP has strongly advocated against detaining children on Nauru, so the announcement by Mr Brandis yesterday is a positive step forward,’ Dr Nespolon told newsGP.

‘We have been extremely worried about the health and safety of these vulnerable people.
‘The healthcare of asylum seekers and refugees in detention, whether offshore, onshore or community detention, should be commensurate with Australian standards of health.’
Mr Brandis’ statement comes after weeks of pressure from the Australian public, healthcare professionals, opposition MPs and even MPs within the Coalition to remove the children – a process which has already started with the transfer of a number of refugee and asylum seeker families to Adelaide.
‘In the last month, at least four – maybe seven – families have arrived here,’ Founder of the Welcome to Australia advocacy group, pastor Brad Chilcott, told ABC Radio Adelaide.
‘The Government is finally responding to the humanitarian and medical crisis that’s going on for people on Nauru, and children in particular.’
However, the Australian Government has also been keen to assert that it actions do not signal a softening of its stance on border protection, and Mr Chilcott said the transferred families still face considerable uncertainty.
‘It’s really concerning that these families, even though they are here, don’t know what happens next,’ he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also confirmed the Government’s intention to remove the children from Nauru, and emphasised its discretion in doing so.
‘In the last nine weeks, the number of children on Nauru has halved. So we’ve been getting about this quietly. We haven’t been showboating about it,’ he said.
Prime Minister Morrison further emphasised that asylum seeker children on Nauru are living on the island itself, rather than in detention, and that accusations of unacceptable living conditions are disrespectful to the Nauruan people.
But Liberal MP Julia Banks disputed this assertion.
‘It is wrong to say these children and their families are not detained,’ she said.
‘Sure, they are not behind bars and they can walk about freely. But the will, especially the will of a parent with a sick child wanting help, it’s a detention of their mind and their spirit.’
Two hundred children have already been transferred to Australia from Nauru, with 50 children remaining. However, the Australian Government will still be attending court to challenge the federal court’s authority to order medical transfers for refugees and asylum seekers from the island.

The RACGP came together with the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Australia College for Emergency Medcine and the Australian Medical Students' Association in September to create the #doctorsforasylumseekers social media campaign.

Children in detention Nauru refugee health

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