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AASW supports protest against Border Force Act

Published: 9 July 2015

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is taking the unprecedented step of supporting the street protest in the Melbourne CBD this Saturday against the Federal Government’s Australian Border Force Act. National Vice President, Christine Craik, says the AASW’s presence at the protest will be in support of its ongoing position against the mandatory detention of children and the attempt to silence professionals who report crimes committed against them.

‘The changes to the Australian Border Force Act are the latest step in an attempt by the Australian Government to silence professionals who raise legitimate concerns about abuse in detention centres because it is not politically convenient,’ Ms Craik said.

The protest will occur outside the Victorian Parliament at 10am on Saturday and is being organised by current and former social work students at RMIT University and the Social Work Alliance Project (SWAP).

Ms Craik says the AASW has been consistently warning of the harm done to children in mandatory detention, including the risk of abuse.

‘Unfortunately, both the Government and the Opposition have chosen to ignore these concerns,’ she said. ‘The situation has deteriorated in the last year with the attempted intimidation of AASW members for speaking out about both abuse and the poor conditions in which children are being held. This is being compounded by the amendments to the Border Force Act.’

Ms Craik says the AASW called for urgent amendments to the Act last month specifically because its secrecy provisions threaten professionals with jail for speaking out.

‘This month, we will be encouraging our members to attend the protest on Saturday to show the Government and the Opposition that they will not be intimidated nor will they back down from their professional code of ethics and duty of care obligation to speak out against inhumanity, injustice and child abuse within Australia and its offshore detention centres,’ Ms Craik said.

The AASW represents over 9,000 professional social workers who are committed to working with communities and individuals to promote wellbeing, human rights and social justice.

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AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers