Statement attributable to Adrian Graham, UNICEF Australia CEO on World Refugee Day and Australian Refugee Week
SYDNEY, 20 JUNE 2016 – “In the longest lead up to a Federal Election, UNICEF Australia is profoundly concerned that people continue to be distracted from the reality that neither major party has a clear plan for refugee children and families who are on Nauru, and refugees on Manus Island.
“It is deeply disappointing that as we mark World Refugee Day, neither of the major parties have articulated a clear, actionable and sustainable plan that sets out permanent resettlement options for children and their families.
“A real policy solution is urgently needed. This must include a credible country for resettlement and genuine opportunities for education and livelihoods as well as access to critical services that will help refugees to recover and rebuild their lives.
“It is an outrage that Australia continues to warehouse refugee children on Nauru. As we have seen over and over again, it has devastating impacts and it fails to address the root causes of refugee movements in our region including conflict, persecution and violence.
“The current approach places unfair pressure on our neighbouring country, Nauru. While the Nauruan Government is working hard to build a viable child protection system to keep all children safe, in reality this takes considerable time and resourcing to realise. All the while children and their families linger with no clear sense of any future.
“The time for speculation about the situation and conditions for refugees on Nauru has passed. Repeated independent reports have all confirmed that the current situation in Nauru is not safe for refugee children or their families.
“Australians should expect that their governments will behave in ways that are transparent and accountable. When they do, we have the best chance of keeping children safe.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory, requires that the best interests of a child must be a primary consideration in all decisions and actions affecting that child. All children should be protected by these rights, irrespective of their citizenship or status.”