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A last resort? Audio files

Statements by Dr Sev Ozdowski, Human Rights Commissioner

Audio Files for Download

The following statements by Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, Human Rights Commissioner are available as audio files in both WAV and MP3 formats.

Radio stations and other media outlets are welcome to download these files for broadcast.

Findings of the report

“Rights have been breached by making detention the only resort rather than the last resort.

Rights have been breached by not looking at what is in the children’s best interests.

Rights have been breached"

  • with regard to the mental health of children,
  • with regard to children with disability
  • and with regard to children who are unaccompanied.”

Rights vs Responsibility

“With every right there is a responsibility. The Government has a right to develop its migration policy but it has a responsibility to uphold the conventions it has signed.

Remember these are children with HUMAN rights. They are not numbers, or acronyms.”

Australia must show human rights leadership

“For a country that is a passionate advocate of Human Rights internationally AND is currently the Chair of the Human Rights Commission at the United Nations, this is a great opportunity to be a leader.

Other countries have shown solutions to this dilemma – Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom have tackled this problem without the need for extended detention.

I am sure our clever country, as the new Chairman and therefore a world leader on Human Rights, could find a solution in line with the convention it has signed."

This is not ancient history

“There are children in detention now. This is not in the past.

There are children behind barbed wire today. That is not in the past.

And even for the events that occurred, we must learn from them. Remember the saying: “He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it in the future.”

On the recommendations in the report

“Of 2184 children in detention, 93% (I repeat 93%) were found to be genuine refugees. They and their families now call Australia home.

So, for a start, we believe the Minister should be extracted from her invidious position which makes her both guardian and jailer of unaccompanied children.”

On some statistics

“Let me give you a figure. The longest a child has been in detention in Australia is five years, five months and 20 days. That means the whole of years of High School! And he was found to be a genuine refugee at the end of that time.”

Myths v Reality

“We say that Australia should take a long, hard, look at myth versus reality.

The myth is that these could be terrorists – ASIO says they’re not.

The myth is that they could disappear in Australian society as ‘illegals’.

The sad reality is that if you came by boat, you are put in detention. But if you came by air from England or Ireland or France and overstay your visa, no one bothers chasing you. In fact, there are 60,000 such ‘illegals’ in this country. The Government doesn’t seem to worry about them at all.

The myth is that this sends a signal to refugees to bring their children along, so they can get an easy ride. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this furphy."

On the question that release of children from detention will tear families apart

"Our view is that it’s detention itself which causes so much stress that families are battered and emotionally scarred. Our view is that positive reform about detention is the way. If Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden can do it, so can we. And remember, as International Chair of the Human Rights Commission we have an obligation to lead the way."