UNICEF Australia calls on the Australian Government to respect the principle of family unity as paramount

SYDNEY, 25 July 2017 - UNICEF Australia has welcomed the resettlement arrangement where the US will accept recognised refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, as a positive solution for some of the world's most vulnerable children.
UNICEF Australia has supported this arrangement because it provides the most expedient pathway to move children to safety, where they have access to quality education, family based environments and community living.

However UNICEF Australia remains deeply concerned for any cases of child refugees on Nauru and Manus Island who have family members in Australia, or vice versa, with no current prospect of reunification.

Family unity is one of the most fundamental principles in international law.  Yet Australia’s offshore processing arrangements have fractured a number of families for four years, and may now cause permanent separation for children and their loved ones, who have already experienced severe grief and trauma.

UNICEF Australia acknowledges that the Australian Government has been consistent in its public messaging regarding its plans for refugees subject to offshore processing. However UNICEF Australia also appeals for a compassionate response when it comes to resettling children.

“Notwithstanding the Government’s position, I think the Australian public would expect the Government to be able to use its discretion where there are exceptional circumstances, to keep families and children together,” said UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart.

It is an established fact that resettlement outcomes for refugees are known to be poorer when they are separated from close family members.

UNICEF Australia urges the Australian Government to consider the plight of children who have already suffered so much, and to take steps to ensure that the identified vulnerable families including children, can be reunited in an appropriate country, such as Australia, with adequate and ongoing support. 

We also encourage the Australian Government to continue its work as a generous refugee resettlement country and to take important steps to ensure that Australia always considers the best interests of refugee children in line with our international obligations.


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.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.au
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For more information please contact:
Charlotte Glennie, UNICEF Australia, 0420 407 886, cglennie@unicef.org.au