Following five years of colossal political and societal pressure, Australia will finally permit all asylum-seeker children detained in immigration facilities on Nauru into the country by year's end.
Former attorney-general George Brandis made the long awaited announcement during a radio interview in London early on Thursday morning, before further announcing that all children, and their families, would receive urgent treatment in hospitals throughout Australia. Bandis’ claims have not been disputed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, both of whom instead simply affirmed that a number of children had already been removed from the island over the past nine weeks.
"Children have already been transferred off Nauru,” Morrison told Sydney radio station 2GB. "I haven't been showboating about it, I haven't been drawing attention to it. It's being done in accordance with our existing policies."
📰 BREAKING: @australian reports govt will get #kidsoffnauru by end of 2018. We await and will welcome @ScottMorrisonMP's confirmation. But 38 kids woke up today on Nauru, in their 5th year of being trapped in limbo, their evacuation is urgent! We can be better than this #auspolpic.twitter.com/hDS1B66H84— kidsoffnauru (@kidsoffnauru) October 31, 2018
The announcement arrived after mounting #KidsOff Nauru campaigns, increasing global condemnation, and widespread calls from medical organisations claiming children on Nauru were so traumatised and depressed they were self-harming and refusing to eat. Recent reports have also detailed a case were one child poured petrol over himself and another ate metal wire.
Since Oct. 15, 135 adults and 47 children have been brought from Nauru to Australia, according to Guardian Australia — 38 children are believed to remain. Out of the 135 adults, just 49 were revealed to have been transferred independently and voluntarily by the government. The remaining 86 were moved thanks to legal intervention or court orders.
Less than 10% of sick children brought from Nauru to Australia for medical care were voluntarily brought here by the @LiberalAus Government. In fact until two weeks ago ZERO children in 5 years had been brought from Nauru to Australia voluntarily by the Australian Gov. #auspol— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) November 1, 2018
Despite initial elation, Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann regretfully announced some of the children’s futures remained uncertain. Neumann revealed the Australian government must now inform Australians of a clear long-term plan for those who will be transferred for medical treatment but who may not be settled permanently under the current Migration Act.
On Thursday, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed Neumann’s fears, telling Radio National that Australia’s immigration position remained “crystal clear” and that anyone who had previously tried to enter Australia illegally by boat would “never be able to settle here permanently.”
The federal government has thus far rejected New Zealand’s proposal to settle 150 people a year. Despite initially announcing in 2016 that it would accept up to 1,250 refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea, the United States has so far only accepted around 400 people.