Today is Human Rights Day: the day when people all over the world celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Australia, we have a major human rights awards ceremony to recognise human rights champions, as well as events in schools, churches and workplaces nationwide.
On this day last year, Senator George Brandis promised, on behalf of the government, to remove all children and their families from detention by 2015. His remarks followed the release of “Forgotten Children”, a report compiling firsthand testimony from children and their families in detention, and data from psychiatrists, paediatricians and academics. The report found that detention is an incredibly dangerous place for children, and that they are being abused in record numbers, including by government officials.
Last week, the Turnbull government decided not to pass the Senate’s amendments to the Migration Act.
The amendments would have gotten kids in detention out by Christmas.
It seems that the government forgot about their Human Rights Day promise – and about the safety and wellbeing of 112 children.
The government failed to pass this bill even after polling showed that the majority of Australians want kids and their families out of detention, including over 60 per cent of voters in Prime Minister Turnbull’s electorate.
Last week, hundreds of people called Mr Turnbull’s office to urge him to bring these kids to safety before the end of the year. Throughout the year, thousands of Australians have spoken out against the detention of children, with groups like Doctors for Refugees, Mums for Refugees, Grandmothers Against Detention, and thousands of schoolkids, parents and teachers participating in a #KidsOut Solidarity Day.