UNICEF Australia renews calls for the Federal Government to provide a resettlement plan for asylum seeker children and families on Nauru

New study and allegations of abuse highlight the need for a permanent solution
SYDNEY, 10 August 2016 – UNICEF Australia again calls on the Turnbull Government to provide a permanent resettlement solution for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru as allegations of child sexual abuse, gender based violence and of cruel and inhumane conditions have re-emerged, only weeks after UNICEF released a joint report on the child protection system in Nauru with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“There is undeniable, cumulative evidence that suggests that asylum seeker and refugee children are not safe under existing arrangements on Nauru. The Australian Government must take immediate action for children and their families to prevent further harm,” said Nicole Breeze, Director of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia.    
The Nauruan Government has taken significant steps to improve their domestic child protection system, including the passing of the Child Protection and Welfare Act, and the joint study stresses further work will be required to build a comprehensive child protection system.
This legislation is a positive development and is vital to all children on Nauru. However gaps, including those in human and financial resources, raise serious questions about whether the child protection and social welfare systems are feasible. Conducted over 18 months, the study cites 13 recommendations to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children.
“Understanding that the Australian Government may come under scrutiny by world leaders at the upcoming United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, UNICEF Australia encourages the Prime Minister to commit to a legitimate resettlement plan for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island,” added Breeze. “It is time for children and their families to start a new life, defined by safety, recovery, education, meaningful work and positive engagement with their broader communities.
“Australia has unfairly shifted its responsibilities for asylum seekers and refugees to our Pacific neighbours for far too long. We must do our fair share to respond to the world’s worst refugee crisis. UNICEF Australia also calls on the Government to increase Australia’s Humanitarian Intake Programme to 30,000 places.
“It is commendable that the Nauruan Government is taking positive steps to improve protections for all children on the Island.  However,  the existing body of evidence suggests that it is very difficult to keep children and families with such complex needs safe on Nauru. Nauru and Manus Island were never meant to be medium to long term resettlement options,” said Breeze.
Note to editors:
Link to the Report
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, +61 403 964 334, nmackey@unicef.org.au
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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