“A new law came into effect today which could put some Australian workers in jail simply for doing their jobs. I think that’s something we should talk about.”
Yesterday both major parties passed a new law to prevent workers contracted to offshore detention centres from reporting anything they see there.
That includes child abuse.
Many media organisations have pointed out just what a despicable move this is, including us.
Read about the changes here: As of today, it is illegal to report child abuse at Nauru.
Waleed Aly also tackled the issue on last night’s episode of The Project, and with his usual, enviable eloquence, managed to cut right to its core.
“Imagine if the teacher or healthcare professional looking after your child was restricted from going directly to law enforcement agencies to report violence or physical abuse or even sexual abuse,” he said. “You would be outraged. We all would.”
“Today that law came into effect with the support of both major parties, but there was no outrage. And that’s because it’s not your children, it’s these ones.”
The children Aly is referring to are the 138 currently being held in Australia’s immigration detention centres — 81 of which are offshore on Nauru.
While this number has dropped under the Coalition government, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has a lot to answer for with regards to its duty of care for those children, and the amendment to the Australian Border Force Act now prohibits “entrusted persons” from speaking about “protected information” without the department’s permission.
As Aly points out: “That might be okay, if that particular department didn’t have a history of allegedly ignoring, denying and concealing reports of harm and neglect.”
“That might be okay it that department wasn’t facing serious allegations of child abuse from The Human Rights Commission.”
Greg Barnes from The Australian Lawyers Alliance chimes in to say that in his mind a law like this can only have one purpose.
“That is prevent scrutiny by the media, by the community and in fact by the world of Australia’s detention centres and the shame of those detention centres,” he says.
Watch Aly deliver his most important segment yet:
— #TheProjectTV (@theprojecttv) July 1, 2015
“The department has told us that brutalising asylum seekers is not a part of asylum seeker policy. So, a law that hides the abuse isn’t about ‘stopping the boats… And if it isn’t about protecting our borders it can only be about one thing and that is protecting our politicians.”
More times Waleed Aly has nailed it: