CAS students speak out on treatment of asylum seekers in letter to the Australian government

By Tara Ball on

In term 4, 2016, the students of St Andrew’s Cathedral School have formed an Amnesty International group. We have done research regarding the treatment of asylum seekers in Nauru offshore detention centre. We were shocked to discover the circumstances and the government’s policies on asylum seekers. This has inspired us to write to the government and express our concerns.

The Senior Students who worked on the letter are Xiaoli Berroeta Tay, Arden Constantine, Ray Pather, Maurice Monster, Christian Liger, Olivia Moulard, Sil Setthasit and Paul Thijssen with assistance from BBC Library Technician Jane Crew.

The letter is as follows:

To the Hon Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

We call on the Australian Government to immediately:

  • Investigate the treatment of asylum seekers in the detention centres of Nauru, and ensure that they are being provided with the care they deserve.
  • Provide better mental health care in the growing epidemic of depression and suicide attempts.
  • Ensure the IHMS is providing timely and adequate health care.
  • Ensure the children are being educated and attending school until an adequate time.
  • To follow through with the promise of a human rights watch dog who is able to report human rights violations.
  • Bring people who need urgent medical attention to Australia in a timely fashion.
  • Encourage more transparency from staff on the island and officials in charge of the island.
  • Further amend the Border Force Act secrecy clause to allow teachers to report disturbing incidents they may observe.

We strongly believe that if Australia is bidding for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council we should be behaving in an exemplary way. We are currently being looked at internationally as a country with an extremely restrictive immigration policy, which is unfortunate for a country of immigrants. We acknowledge the dangers of coming to Australia by sea, however we do not see banning all sea arrival visas as a step in the right direction. We endorse the amendment to the Border Force Act legislation which now allows doctors and medical staff to speak up about incidents they’ve witnessed. As school children, we particularly identify with the children of Nauru, and we would like to see them receive residency in Australia, especially with a relative if possible.

Yours sincerely

From the St Andrew’s Cathedral School Amnesty International Group

November, 2016

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