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AASW welcomes Manus Island class action settlement

Published: 16 June 2017

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) welcomes the recent court settlement for Manus Island detainees as a victory for human rights, but much more still needs to be done, says National President, Professor Karen Healy AM, today,

“The $70 million settlement is an important step in addressing the physical and psychological injuries that asylum seekers have suffered as a result of the conditions in off-shore detention.

"However, the settlement is further evidence that the government’s treatment of asylum seekers in off-shore detention is inhumane and a direct breach of Australia's international obligations."

Professor Healy says Australia’s migration policies are unjustifiably punitive and cruel yet despite local and international condemnation, the government continues to inflict unnecessary trauma on people who have come to Australia for help.

"These actions continue to have dire consequences for asylum seekers and more broadly Australia’s international reputation," she said.

As recently as last week, Professor Healy said, there was another UN report strongly criticising Australia's approach, viewing it as an erosion of human rights that contravened our humanitarian obligations.

"What will it take for this government to finally listen?” asked Professor Healy. “These policies amount to systematic discrimination against already vulnerable people, many of whom have suffered serious trauma and are merely exercising their rights under international law to seek sanctuary from fear and oppression for themselves and their families.

“This is a shameful chapter in our nation’s history and the AASW would like to renew its call for the closure of all offshore detention centres."

The Australian Association of Social Workers represents over 10,000 professional social workers throughout Australia, many of whom work with refugees and asylum seekers.

Professor Karen Healy AM was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016 for her significant service to community welfare in the field of social work, particularly child protection, and to higher education and research. The AASW's National President since 2011, she is Professor of Social Work at the University of Queensland.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers