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Morrison accused of 'state sanctioned child abuse'

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Comments by church leaders 'offensive'

Though well intentioned, church leaders are wrong to liken detention to child abuse says Parliamentary Secretary to the PM Alan Tudge.

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A group of Catholic and Anglican church leaders have accused the Abbott government of ''state-sanctioned child abuse'' in the immigration detention system, and called for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to step down from his position as guardian for all unaccompanied minors.

Leaders from nine Christian denominations, which form the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, will release a report on Wednesday that commends a raft of recommendations to the Abbott government to improve the wellbeing and treatment of children in onshore and offshore immigration detention centres.

The claims were rejected by Mr Morrison.

Calls to step down from his position as guardian for all unaccompanied minors: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Calls to step down from his position as guardian for all unaccompanied minors: Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Wolter Peeters

''Claims of state sanctioned child abuse are shocking and offensive and the Minister rejects these categorically,'' a spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said.

''The Minister has not been sent the final report. It is hardly fair for him to respond to a report that he has not yet seen or been given the courtesy to review to provide a response from the government.

''As the Minister has previously stated wherever people have made claims that may have basis he will look to make improvements.''

The church leaders, including the Anglican Dean of Brisbane, say the church has learnt a painful lesson from decades of child abuse within their congregations and it should never have been ignored.

Reverend Peter Catt, the Anglican Dean of Brisbane said: ''We'll never again stand by and do nothing about child abuse.

''We have the absolute duty to make sure the events that came out from the Royal Commission aren't repeated in any setting. Institutional child abuse occurs in many different settings and it's illegal, it's horrific and it's unacceptable.''

The recommendations in the report include ending closed detention for all unaccompanied children; providing institutional child welfare and protection; and replacing the Immigration Minister as the guardian of about 135 unaccompanied asylum seeker children who are being held in onshore and offshore centres, including Nauru. There are about 4330 children in immigration detention - most of them living in the community.

''The Minister forsakes his guardianship duties when he sends unaccompanied children to the detention camp in Nauru,'' says the report, titled Protecting the Lonely Children.

The report said there was clear evidence that children are experiencing ''terrible physical and mental suffering''.

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273 comments

  • Let he who is without sin cast the first stone............

    Commenter
    Sjackson
    Date and time
    July 30, 2014, 7:03AM
    • hi Sjackson - in the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus advised the woman to change her way of life.

      Do you think that the clergy and members now protesting Morrison's actions are those that perpetrated sexual abuse on children or those who covered up?

      It appears that in arresting and imprisoning children who are charged with no crime, stones are being thrown by Morrison with much greater effect than by any of the compassionate.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 8:04AM
    • Um, no. Let anyone who sees 'sin' call it out, shine a very bright light into its dark dens, call out any and all perpetrators and reject its apologists.
      Let's be clear, locking up children and treating them as as criminals is in and of itself a criminal act of child abuse. The damage being inflicted on them is known and yet it continues under the direction of one who's legal obligation is their welfare and care. A disgracful and entirely shameful stage of affairs. If anyone else treated minors in their care as Morrison treats those under his, they would be charged with child abuse. So should he.

      Commenter
      Warwick
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 8:13AM
    • Too late. Serial sinner Scott Morrison cast the first stone the day after his side won the election. He is apparently not following the advice of his religious leaders and instead pandering to the xenophobic elements of the country.
      Being strict on volumes of entry into the country is one thing but surely it can be done with compassion. Morrison's ploy is bury rather than try to rectify it.

      Commenter
      stevek
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 8:18AM
    • Am not sure these church leaders should be playing legal gods. The laws surrounding these matters are so complex that even the high court has been called upon to adjudicate, but only where it holds jurisdiction to do so. For example recent arrivals detained outside our waters gave no asylum or child rights, then upon finally bringing them into our territory, they are per the constitution illegal aliens is the words used, and allowed as alien a right to apply for asylum, this did during that application whilst in govt custodial care, bring rise to rights of children to be looked after per UN minimal standards, this seems to be complied to. The Govt has made new laws which are in a test period, and have deemed them as economic arrivals with entitlement to appeal if still applicable, and the church in my opinion should be more concerned about families putting these kids lives at risk on the high seas rather than their far safer current situation. It is about time do-gooders started respecting our laws, our own homeless, and respect the govt mandate which was given on that policy. We need clarity not this do-gooder hindering circus. The kids are safe and not one Govt party would neglect them if in power.

      Commenter
      Brian Woods
      Location
      Glenroy
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 8:36AM
    • Morrison, the LNP and the bigots whose votes they snuffle after have been throwing stones at asylum seekers for years. The ALP have been little better.

      Commenter
      davros
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 9:27AM
    • @Sjackson - Of course. Why didn't they think of that before opening their mouth? Their own sins negate any moral standing their comments might have otherwise had, so we can safely ignore them and accept that the children are "economic migrants" and putting them in a gaol is okay.

      @Brian Jackson - Of course! How could such a group of people purporting to be of spiritual bent miss the obvious? These little kiddies saved up their shekels and rupees from mowing lawns in their homelands, dreaming of one day buying a cruise to the land of milk and honey where they would take the job of some poor down trodden unfortunate homeless person, use up scarce resources, and irreversibly change the way of life for the worse of that country. And, to add insult to injury, to confuse the poor hindering do-gooders in said land of milk and honey into feckless ill-considered moral positions over their treatment, they were put deliberately in harm's way by their evil parents on the high seas in international waters where the kindly and sensitive Australian immigration services masquerading as a military operation to fool the travel agents picked them up and compassionately put safely out of harm's way after realising that they were of sufficient means to have paid for the cruise in the first place. Good God! Don't these church people think about the legal implications of their utterances? Excellent non-sequitur by the way.

      Commenter
      manarch
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 9:46AM
    • @Brian Woods - Kids in detention are drawing pictures that show those children are severely traumatised. People in Nauru abort rather than have children in detention centres because conditions are so cruel:

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-24/asylum-seekers-opt-for-abortion-in-face-of-nauru-conditions/5280826

      Yes those places are mental illness factories. Yes that is state sanctioned child abuse. Wouldn't any state doing such a thing have lawyers to make it sound all nice and legal? Of course they would. And good on the refugee lawyers trying to stop them.

      Commenter
      Royal Commission into State Sanctioned Refugee Abuse Now
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 10:09AM
    • @ Debbi. Please tell us how Australia should respond to the new business model of people smugglers.

      Perhaps you can study the crisis US is facing with 90,000 unaccompanied children as illegal migrants in a 12 months.

      Commenter
      Dr B S Goh
      Location
      Australian in Asia
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 10:13AM
    • hi Dr Goh,

      How would studying that US model help us?

      They have a land border that can be reached easily and hordes of people trying to cross it.

      We have a sea border that only a trickle tries to cross and most of whom prove to be genuine.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Location
      MALLABULA
      Date and time
      July 30, 2014, 10:24AM

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