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Government must apologise to Save the Children workers and shut down Nauru

Published: 6 May 2016

The nine Save the Children welfare workers deported from Nauru were carrying out their professional and ethical duty and should receive an immediate apology from the Federal government for their shameful treatment, said the President of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Professor Karen Healy AM, today.

The AASW represents some of the social workers who were among those deported and while welcoming the Department of Immigration offer of compensation, this is not enough.

"The compensation does not begin to address the shameful treatment and devastating consequences of these baseless allegations. We are calling on the government to immediately apologise and to close down the Regional Processing centre on Nauru," Professor Healy said.

Professor Healy said the admission from the Department implied in the offer of compensation highlights the poor treatment of staff and the abhorrent conditions for asylum seekers.

"The workers’ actions were in line with their professional responsibilities and instead of being supported they were vilified"

"The government’s attempt to restrain the ability of these professionals to speak out – by including secrecy provisions in their contracts and threatening prosecution – is inappropriate because it asks them to breach their ethical responsibilities," Professor Healy said.

She says the AASW strongly supports its members to legitimately and ethically report child abuse and neglect, and to advocate on the human rights of children and the most vulnerable.

The Australian Association of Social Workers represents over 9,500 professional social workers who are committed to working with communities and individuals to promote wellbeing, human rights and social justice.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers