On 3 February, the High Court of Australia ruled that the running and funding of immigration detention centres in foreign countries did not breach the Constitution.
That ruling affects 267 refugees previously transported from Nauru to Australia, many of whom required emergency medical treatment. Of these 267 refugees, there were 54 children and 37 babies. By this ruling, there is the risk that these refugees could return to conditions threatening their physical, sexual, psychological and emotional health, safety, and wellbeing. There have been reports of sexual assault and rape and of self-harming and suicide in response to the conditions on Nauru. There have been protests, newspaper articles, and social media activity (#letthemstay) and on 4–5 February a round of rallies in all capital cities.
In Brisbane on 5 February there was a lunchtime rally outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which saw hundreds of people attending to show their support. Larissa Waters, a Greens senator, spoke out passionately about the dangers of sending back any asylum seekers back to Nauru. Her concerns were echoed by Peter Catt from the Anglican Church. The protest was ended with a rallying call to “free, free the refugees!”.
We’ll be waiting with bated breath to see the outcome for these individuals.