By ANNA HENDERSON and STEPHANIE ANDERSON.
Refugees will be among those helping to process the remaining 600 asylum seekers in the Nauru immigration detention centre over the coming week, the Nauruan government says.
Nauru’s government has promised to process all asylum seekers in its offshore detention centre still awaiting an outcome on their application for refugee status “within the next week”.
The Nauruan government will more than double the number of staff involved in processing claims to 320, to deal with the week-long timeframe.
Community liaison officers, including 30 people who have already been granted refugee status, will process the asylum seekers.
Nauru has also announced the centre will become an “open” facility 24 hours a day from today.
It means detainees will be free to move around the island.
Nauru’s justice minister David Adeang confirmed the Australian Government would provide support with “safety, security and law enforcement”.
This will include increased assistance from Australian police, as well as increased health care and overseas medical referrals.
Comment has been sought from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
Mr Adeang said his government had been working towards a “more compassionate program” for a long time and had been waiting on confirmation of assistance from the Australian Government.
“The start of detention-free processing is a landmark day for Nauru,” he said.
The decision comes just days before a legal challenge examining the Australian Government’s role in the centre’s operation.
The full bench of the High Court is scheduled to hear a challenge to the lawfulness of the Government’s role in offshore detention on Nauru on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Human Rights Law Centre’s director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb.
The president of the Refugee Council, Phil Glendenning, said the hearings may have “provided some sort of impetus” for the development.
Mr Glendenning told the ABC he held grave concerns for the safety of asylum seekers if they remained on Nauru, adding that the Australian Government had a “very serious” responsibility to ensure their safety.