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Government should apologise, compensate welfare workers and shut down Nauru

Published: 18 January 2016

The ten Save the Children welfare workers deported from the Regional Processing Centre in
Nauru were carrying out their ethical and professional responsibilities, and should have been
supported and trusted rather than undermined for political gain and deported, said the
President of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Professor Karen Healy,
today.

The AASW represents some of the social workers who were among those deported and
welcomes the Department of Immigration’s report.

“We are calling on the Government to immediately apologise and compensate these workers,
and to close down the Regional Processing centre on Nauru,” Professor Healy said.

“While the centre remains open, the oppressive conditions substantially increase the likelihood
of child abuse, including sexual abuse, and this is chiefly the concern of the welfare
professionals who have witnessed it.”

Professor Healy said the Department’s report highlights the poor treatment of staff and the
abhorrent conditions for asylum seekers and its findings clearly show that the workers’ actions
were in line with their professional responsibilities.

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

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

To arrange an interview, please contact:
Emma Pegrum
Media and Marketing Manager
P 02 6199 5011 M 0408 200 191

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers