As last kids leave Nauru, World Vision calls on MPs to back new law for sick refugees detained offshore

Australia’s largest humanitarian agency, World Vision, today welcomed the news that the last kids are coming off Nauru, by calling on Australia’s political leaders to back a new law that guarantees medical transfers for sick refugees trapped in island detention.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement overnight that the last of the children and their families would come off the island, follows #KidsOffNauru, an intense campaign by Australia’s humanitarian and refugee sectors that highlighted that children were still suffering after five years detained in torturous limbo on Nauru and demanded they be brought to Australia.

World Vision Australia Chief Executive Officer Claire Rogers, who launched the campaign in August last year with the support of scores of organisations, said Kids Off Nauru had been successful because it had told Australians what the Government had been hiding: that kids were still being held on Nauru.

“Once ordinary Australians realised that the Government was locking up kids in our name, they made it clear they wouldn’t stand for it.”   

Ms Rogers said recognition should be given to the tireless and courageous work of an army of human rights lawyers who, long before the campaign, used the courts to argue seriously sick children should be transferred to Australia.

“I am pleased that once the campaign gained momentum, the government eventually stopped blocking these transfers, that has  put children’s lives at risk and wasting tax payers’ money.

“If it wasn’t for the extraordinary efforts from refugee advocates and lawyers working day and night to represent these families, I am doubtful that the 119 children who were still on the island when Kids Off Nauru launched would have been transferred,” she said.

Ms Rogers said it was important that the more than 1000 people still trapped in detention on Manus and Nauru, including the many young adults who had been sent there as children, are now given the same access to proper care.  

Calling on all political leaders to back a crossbench and ALP-supported Bill to create a fair pathway to Australia for humane medical treatment of those who are sick and still trapped in offshore detention, Ms Rogers said: “Australia cannot leave sick people languishing without proper treatment – and we can’t leave people indefinitely detained on an island.

 “I couldn’t stand by and do nothing while children were deprived of their human rights, at the hands of my own country’s government,” Ms Rogers said.

She said World Vision believed Australians would not accept what was happening on our watch – that seeing the faces of the children politicians had hidden for years would stir their hearts and prompt political leaders to move.

“Our trust in ordinary Australians was well-placed. Now the government must give them the chance to set up new lives and take steps to ensure this process happens quickly.

“People who come to us, seeking our help should not be used in a macabre game of politics that kills people and makes children and adults critically ill.”

 For more information or for interview requests, contact:

Leah Swann, on 0421 857 591


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