The Senate has voted in favour of Labor’s motion to establish a Senate Inquiry to investigate serious allegations of abuse, self-harm and neglect outlined in the Nauru files.
The Nauru files represents the largest leak of documents detailing the reporting of and responses to allegations of mistreatment of individuals residing in offshore detention centres and like many Australians, Labor was concerned by the contents of those reports.
Labor has made clear our commitment to offshore processing and regional resettlement, combined with the policy of turning back boats to ensure people smugglers are denied their trade in exploiting vulnerable people. We have also made clear our view that we have a special obligation to ensure those vulnerable people are not subjected to any further harm or violence.
As representatives, we have a responsibility to investigate serious claims about any mistreatment of asylum seekers in offshore processing centre.
The motion moved by Labor to establish a Senate Inquiry, outlines terms of reference including how notifications of self-harm are investigated, the factors that have contributed to abuse and self-harm where this is found to have occurred and the support services offered to those people.
Unaccompanied minors are some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers and the Inquiry will be asked to specifically give consideration to the role an independent children’s advocate could play in protecting the rights and interests of unaccompanied minors.
The Turnbull Government has failed to establish durable, third country resettlement arrangements to resolve the future of asylum seekers in offshore processing centres.
The Inquiry will investigate the Government’s attempts to negotiate third country resettlement of asylum seekers and refugees and any additional measures that could be implemented to expedite third country resettlement.
The motion to establish a Senate Inquiry was co-sponsored by the Australian Greens.
A Senate Inquiry is the most appropriate way to investigate serious claims of abuse and self-harm in offshore detention centres and importantly, the terms of reference set a deadline to report back to Parliament by the last sitting day in March 2017.
Shane Neumann MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration & Border Protection & Member for Blair & Murray Watt, Senator for Queensland