Offshore processing under the Coalition
This policy continued after the Liberal-National Party won the election in September 2013.
As well, the new Government adopted a policy of turning boats back, known as ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’. The Australian navy resumed turning back boats, including by placing people on lifeboats to return to Indonesia. The government claimed that it was conducting ‘enhanced screening’ to ensure that refugees were not turned back to danger.
There were also allegations that the government had unlawfully entered the territorial waters of Indonesia during one operation, and that its officers had paid people smugglers to return people back to Indonesia.
The new government also introduced temporary protection visas. However, it was unable to pass legislation to enable this until the end of 2014. The High Court ruled that its other attempts to introduce these visas was unlawful, but the government succeeded in ensuring only one person received a permanent protection visa before its legislation was passed.
Abuse, harm and deaths offshore
There is a wealth of evidence of the abuse and harm caused to people sent offshore. This has included:
- Sexual and physical abuse, including of children, women and homosexual people
- Inhumane or degrading conditions, including through overcrowding, poor quality housing and services
- Exposure to violence and harm, including from the military and the local community
- Grossly inadequate access to health services
- Deaths and harm caused by negligence or delays in getting medical treatment
- Terrible consequences to mental health, caused by indefinite and prolonged detention and the limbo caused by the uncertainty of the policy.
The following reports provide evidence of the abuse, harm and conditions of those in our offshore processing centres.
Our reports on Manus and Nauru
- Until when: The forgotten men of Manus Island (Refugee Council of Australia, 2018)
- Australia’s Man-made Crisis on Nauru: Six years on (Refugee Council of Australia, 2017)
UN factsheets and reports
- UNHCR Factsheets and Monitoring Reports on Manus Island and Nauru
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on his mission to Australia (2017)
Reports by NGOs
- Punishment not protection – Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea (Amnesty International, 2018)
- Australia/PNG: Refugees face unchecked violence (Human Rights Watch, 2017)
- Island of despair: Australia’s “processing” of Refugees on Nauru (Amnesty International, 2016)
- Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, 2016)
- Protection denied, abuse condoned: Women on nauru at risk report (Wendy Bacon, Pamela Curr, Carmen Lawrence, Julie Macken, Claire O’Connor, 2016)
- Australia/Papua New Guinea: The Pacific non-Solution (Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Law Centre, 2015)
- This is still breaking people: Update on human rights violations at australia’s asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (Amnesty International, 2014)
- Serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect of asylum seekers in relation to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, and any like allegations in relation to the Manus Regional Processing Centre (Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, 2017)
- Conditions and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at the regional processing centres in the Republic of Nauru and Papua New Guinea (Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 2016)
- Taking responsibility: conditions and circumstances at Australia’s Regional Processing Centre in Nauru (Select Committee on the Recent Allegations relating to Conditions and Circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru, 2015)
- Review into recent allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru (Philip Moss, 2015)
- Review of the events of 16-18 February 2014 at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (Robert Cornall AO, 2014)
- Review into allegations of sexual and other serious assaults at the Manus regional processing centre (Robert Cornall)