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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Lismore rallies to get kids off Nauru

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Saturday’s Kids Off Nauru rally in Lismore. Photo Lismore Amnesty

Anne Tuart

On Saturday about 150 people rallied in Lismore to support the campaign to get ‘Kids Off Nauru’ with their families. They were standing up for people who are voiceless and defenceless. Some 296 letters were written to politicians.

Three speakers described how offshore detention was destroying lives.

Cath Napier had worked on Nauru with Save the Children so could talk from first hand experience.

Janet Wilson has been in one to one contact with men on Manus for years and could explain the destroyed lives they are enduring.

The Winsome choir led a song written for the asylum seekers and everyone joined in.

A minute’s silence followed with hands held high and wrists crossed. This was a moving and fitting end to the rally.

Currently there are now 47 children on Nauru. The government has stoped fighting every medical transfer in court. New arrivals however are being put into onshore detention centres and not the community. The new arrivals will add to the 3 children currently in on shore detention.

This is an example of what offshore detention looks like.  A young mother and her child last Friday finally saw her husband after 5 years of enforced separation.

  • The young couple came seeking asylum on the same day, but in different boats.
  • His boat arrived a few hours ahead of hers, and after months in detention he was eventually allowed to move into the community.
  • Her boat arrived three hours after the cut off date for arbitrarily offshore detention in the name of ‘Stop the Boats’.
  • She was despatched directly to Nauru, where she has been held since 2013.
  • The situation became too much for the frightened and lonely young mum to bear, so she attempted suicide and was brought to Brisbane for medical treatment.
  • Her child was not allowed to accompany her.
  • Although she was in hospital for 2 weeks, and her husband flew up from Melbourne to see her, guards prevented him from making any contact. He waited outside the hospital for two weeks.
  • A fortnight later she was sent back to Nauru, and he only saw her when he waved through the ambulance window as she left the hospital.
  • Since Friday, their young son is finally with his father – who is a stranger to him, having been separated for so long.
  • The woman is presently held under guard in a psychiatric hospital.
  • No-one knows when she will be released – people who have spoken to her say she is very affected by the terrors of the last 5 years, but we all hope she will be allowed to live with her husband and son soon.
  • We don’t know what the future holds for this little family – will she be returned to Nauru? Who knows?

There is a similar story. The last man to commit suicide on Manus had a wife and children living in Australia. He was told he would never be allowed to go to Australia and the distress caused him to loose his mind. He jumped off a moving bus and a wheel ran over his head. There are many stories, none of them good.

This did not need to happen, it is the result of a deliberately cruel and inhumane policy designed to deter people who are fleeing for their lives. This is the reality of offshore detention. We must end this once and for all. We must end it now.



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  1. Thank you Anne for this thought provoking article. The treatment of the young woman described can only be described as cruel and heartless. After a series of governments that have lost their humanity in their desperate struggle to cling to or gain power, is this what Australia has become?


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