Statement by Paul Power CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia
The Refugee Council of Australia welcomes the decision by the Federal Government to release dozens of refugees who were previously medically transferred to Australia.
This decision is well overdue given the people being released posed no risk to the community and yet were themselves put at risk by being locked indefinitely in detention facilities and hotels used as detention centres.
The next step has to be releasing the rest of the more than 200 people who were medically transferred to Australia and subjected to indefinite detention.
There is no logical justification for keeping them under lock and key, especially given that at least three-quarters of them were confirmed as refugees by the governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea prior to their transfer, with their refugee status decided under processes developed with the financial and practical support of the Australian Government.
Everybody loses with the current system of detention. It destroys the lives of people who have already suffered much. It breaches the commitments Australia made when signing the Refugee Convention. And it is outrageously expensive with no positive outcome, while the awful psychological effects on the people detained have been clearly identified by years of Australian research and acknowledged by the Government itself.
We are seeking further information from the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force to brief the community organisations which may need to support those being released.
Anything is better than locked detention but the Australian Government must also ensure that people who are in our community have access to a financial safety net if they need it and not left to a state of destitution. That is not right in any nation, and it is certainly not a choice that a wealthy nation should make.
For further comment or to arrange an interview:
Refugee Council of Australia: 0488 035 535