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AASW continues calls for an end to mandatory detention as COVID-19 situation intensifies

Published: 14 August 2020

As 105 men remain in the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel after being flown from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia for medical treatment, the AASW is again calling on governments to end the practice of mandatory detention.

AASW Queensland Branch President Ellen Beaumont said, “All of these men are at risk of severe complications or death if they were to catch COVID-19 in the crowded conditions of their accommodation, and they must be released into the community immediately. These are people who have broken no laws and yet continue to be punished for no reason other than seeking a better life.

“They are being kept in cramped conditions with little access to the hygiene and protective practices the rest of us have readily available.”

Ms. Beaumont continued, “We have grave concerns not only for the physical health of these men, but also their mental health with reports of self-harm and suicidal ideation coming from advocates supporting the men. The situation around the pandemic will only be exacerbating these mental health issues.”

AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The Australian Government consistently breaches the human rights of refugees and people seeking asylum. We need to immediately stop mandatory detention of people seeking asylum and close down the immigration detention centres which are a COVID-19 outbreak waiting to happen.

“There is nothing to stop the government from releasing this group, and others in their position across the country, into the community where they can live in safety and security. Mandatory detention’s purpose is cruelty and tortuous, sending a horrible message to the rest of the world about how we treat the most vulnerable of people.”

Ms. Beaumont said, “The Queensland Government can use, and must use, its powers under Queensland’s Human Rights Act to release these men, and all others in the same situation in immigration detention centres, to move into the community as a matter of urgency. The lessons from Victoria show how quickly COVID-19 can get out of control, we cannot let the same happen amongst this vulnerable population in our state.”

ENDS

To interview Christine Craik or Ellen Beaumont, please contact Ellie Cooper on 0413 532 954.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers