See More

Australia failing to meet human rights obligations on Manus Island

Published: 6 November 2017

The government should intervene immediately to ensure that each of the people in the Manus Island detention centre has somewhere safe to live, the Chief Executive Officer of theAustralian Association of Social Workers, (AASW) Ms Cindy Smith, said today.

“The people detained in the centre repeatedly pointed out the lack of safety outside the detention centre but the preparations for shutting the centre ignored their concerns”, said Ms Smith.

“The right to safety is one of the most fundamental of all the human rights”, Ms Smith continued. “Australia has human rights obligations with respect to these people, and that means that the government has a responsibility to guarantee that each of them will have somewhere safe to live”, Ms Smith said.

The AASW has repeatedly pointed out that Australia’s offshore detention of refugees and people seeking asylum contravenes our human rights obligations. According to Ms Smith, the current situation shows that Australia needs to change its policy approach immediately.

“Now that Australia has joined the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), it is time for a change in our policy direction. Every member of the United Nations Human Rights Council should be showing leadership in protecting human rights. The current situation on Manus Island demonstrates how far Australia’s current approach has to go to meet this standard”, said Ms Smith.

“Many AASW members work closely with refugees and witness firsthand the trauma they experience as the result of punitive government policies,” she said. It is time that Australia’s policy reflected this awareness.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers