From Gabby Sutherland Former Save the Children teacher on Nauru
The only life he’s known is guards shouting, steel fences, and unending detention on a tiny island the size of Melbourne’s airport. Where he’s called by a number, not even his name.
But today, I get to share his photo with you, and across the front pages of newspapers – to ask for your help uncovering a lie.
This appeal comes from a former teacher at Nauru, who personally witnessed the cruel treatment of children and now asks all who are concerned to help do something about it.
Former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he had “every child out of detention”
1 But after 5 long years, there are still 119 children detained offshore on Nauru.
Journalists can’t reach them, and staff on Nauru sign agreements not to talk – but I taught these children, and I have watched the life slowly drain from their eyes. In 2014, Australian pediatricians said this detention constituted child abuse.
2 The conditions have only worsened since.
We know that with enough pressure, things can change. This year, Australian judges defied the Federal Government 14 times and evacuated children urgently from Nauru to Australia.3
So while our Government is trying to hide the 119 children remaining on Nauru – these photos are our chance to show the Australian public the truth. If enough of us speak out now, we can confront politicians with the faces and the stories of the children imprisoned on Nauru, and force them to act.
Will you join me and call on Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to evacuate these children and their families to Australia before Universal Children’s Day on November 20?
No matter what your political view – the indefinite detention of children is astoundingly cruel.
As a teacher on Nauru, I saw the impacts of this policy. I watched a young girl, initially so eager to learn English and read Harry Potter, curl up in a corner of my classroom and cry uncontrollably for hours.
I saw children watch on, terrified as their parents were handcuffed with zip ties and assaulted, simply to attend medical appointments.
When Prime Minister Turnbull announced the US deal to resettle refugees there, I heard hope flower in the voices of these kids, but nearly 2 years later, only a handful of people have been moved to safety.
Despite being assessed as a refugee – this little boy is still waiting. How long can we do this to him?
So far, 157 children and their families have been brought to Australia from offshore detention on doctor’s orders.4 But 119 kids remain on Nauru, some never knowing a day of freedom in their lives.
A photo tells a thousand words. That’s why the ABC was banned from accessing Nauru5 – but the bravery of those imprisoned there means this country can now see the photos of the children detained in our name.
I can’t do this alone – so thank you for standing with me.