2018 Universal Children's Day #KidsOffAllOff Circular Quay Rally, Speech by Gaby Judd, NSW Grandmothers, Open Letter to the PM

In 2008 Scott Morrison said in his maiden speech and I quote: “family is the stuff of life and there is nothing more precious. It is my hope that all Australians could have the same caring & supportive environment that was provided to me by my parents.” He went on to say that from his faith he derives values of loving kindness, justice, righteousness and compassion. He quoted Desmond Tutu and talked about standing up for justice, for truth, for the poor, the homeless and so on. 

I’m now going to read an open letter to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison from the Grandmothers in response to our PM’s current values. 

Dear Prime Minister,

In 2008 you talked about your values including kindness, compassion and justice. So why today on Universal Children’s Day, Mr. Morrison, are there still children on Nauru? Why, if you value compassion, has it taken so long to bring sick children to Australia?Why, Mr. Morrison, if your values include standing up for what is just and right, are the children brought from Nauru to Australia being put straight in detention?  

If, Mr. Morrison, you believe family is the stuff of life, why are sick refugee children finally brought to Australia for treatment now denied full access to their family when they are in hospital, with only one parent being allowed to stay with the child and the rest of the family including the other parent kept in detention?

If, Mr. Morrison, you acknowledge the importance of the caring environment that was provided to you by your parents, why then are families split between Nauru and Australia?  Many of these children brought to Australia for medical treatment are separated from their fatherswho are left behind on Nauru while their children come to Australia for medical treatment. These children are not living in the normal family environment that you refer to as so important; they are living in fear of losing family members they may never be reunited with, in many cases fearful of never seeing their fathers again. Some of these children have never met their fathers because their mothers were brought to Australia to give birth!

If, Mr. Morrison, you stand up for the homeless, why do you deny these children and their families a home by not settling them here in Australia, where they should have been in the first place, or at least by accepting the New Zealand offer?

Allowing refugee children to come to Australia with their families for medical treatment has not been about you showing compassion.This happens because you must accept the decisions of the courts. Public opinion has changed: Australians are increasingly disturbed by your cruel treatment of those seeking safety and a home in Australia.   For children to feel safe and thrive, they must see their parents safe and thriving. That won’t happen by keeping families in Australia in limbo on temporary visas and denying them their right to a permanent home.

Mr. Morrison, if you believe in justice, why are there over 1000 men and women on Nauru & Manus - over 1000 men and women denied their legal right to seek asylum in Australia?Why have you denied them the right to settle in Australia, to receive the compassion, fairness and kindness that I believe most Australians would extend to them if they were settled here permanently? If you believe in justice, Mr Morrison give them a permanent home here in Australia or at least let them go to New Zealand. The grandmothers will continue to speak up for the refugee children, we will continue to speak out for the men and women detained illegally and unjustly by the Australian government both in Australia and in the Offshore Processing Centres. We will continue to speak out for those in community detention, and for those on temporary visas.  We will continue to speak up for their legal right to seek asylum and to be resettled in a permanent home.

The grandmothers don’t give long speeches about our values, we don’t need to, we just get on and live our lives according to our values. We walk the walk. When will you walk the walk, Prime Minister?

Gaby Judd on behalf of Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children NSW

The Age of Activism: Emma Davies interviewed 8 of the NSW Grandmothers

Wearing the feminist colour purple, the Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children (GADRC) NSW hold peaceful vigils and marches in the Sydney CBD and metropolitan area, and in regional towns including Bundeena, the Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Orange. Some passers by find the group amusing, or wonder what a group of older women are doing marching through the CBD on a Wednesday night, but these women are just doing what they feel is their Grandmotherly duty.


Jimmy Barnes calls for children to be removed from Nauru: 'It's not the Australian way'

Barnes pointed to his own heritage: “I’m an immigrant,” he said.

“I came to Australia in a boat. We were running away from poverty and violence in Scotland, and what we fled was nothing compared to what these people have tried to get away fro

“We should be helping them. Taking these people and sticking them on an island, indefinitely, is not the Australian way.”


For Refugees on Nauru, Little Joy on Children’s Day

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a powerful speech in October when he said:"Today, Australia confronts a trauma – an abomination – hiding in plain sight for far too long... Why were the cries of children and parents ignored? Why was our system of justice blind to injustice? Why has it taken so long to act? Why were other things more important than this, the care of innocent children?”


Our politicians have dragged us down to the moral depths. They should be ashamed. David Isaacs

I am a children’s doctor. Doctors are often told to stick to health matters and let others deal with politics. But I also studied ethics. Ethics is how we ought to behave. When bad political ethics lead to bad health, I feel morally obligated to say something about the politics. I know of no moral code which deems it ethical to deprive one group of people of their liberty and punish them brutally merely to deter others from seeking refuge. Both sides of politics have lost their moral compass.


US believed Australia would take more refugees in exchange for Nauru and Manus deal

The US offered to resettle Australia’s refugees from Nauru and Manus Island on the understanding that in exchange Australia would “do more” to help other refugees, the US architect of the deal has said.


18/11/2018 Latest Figures Kids on Nauru

Unless otherwise stated, the information below comes from either Asylum Insights, The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney or Pamela Curr, Melbourne. The figures are the best estimate and are constantly changing.

12 Children on Nauru [Since heard still 17]

13 Children in the Melbourne Detention Centre, (MITA Broadmeadows)  having been brought from Nauru, some for medical treatment but also includes siblings.

Over 50 people, including children are in motel accommodation in Brisbane under 24-hour guard). Others have been placed in community detention

Numbers are in Adelaide in motels or caravan park but these are under guard , so that cohort is in detention. Numbers are not available.

In some cases where there is a child in hospital, one parent is permitted to remain with the child in hospital, all other family members must remain in detention.

Many families remain separated, (at least 48 people from 10 families) with part of the family on Nauru, and others in Australia. This includes families where some members have been brought to Australia for medical treatment, whilst other family members (often fathers) remain on Nauru.

Other Facts:
176 Children live in Community Detention, within the Australian Community
435 People who were in detention on Manus or Nauru have been resettled in the US under the US resettlement deal.
624 men remain on Manus, including those in Port Moresby for medical treatment
500 on Nauru, including 12 children
37 Deaths in Onshore and Offshore Detention since 2010, of these 16 are known to have been due to suicide.
The number of refugees who remain in Cambodia after being transferred there from Nauru, at a cost of $55 million. One. Six of the seven refugees who were transferred to Cambodia have since left:
5 Billion dollars spent on Manus & Nauru since 2012

33 boats and 771 people Turned back in boats since September 2013 under Operation Sovereign Borders. None of those intercepted were deemed to be owed protection obligations. The last boat known to be turned around was in June 2018. The number of people it contained is not reported. Source: Senate Estimates and Australian Border Force.  

1 boat containing 17 people Arrived in Australia in 2018. They were taken to Christmas Island for Processing. Source: The Guardian.

17,029 People awaiting an outcome of their refugee application whilst living in Australia on a Bridging Visa E. This includes 2,835 children. Source: Department of Home Affairs.

1,345 People in detention in Australia (including 173 on Christmas Island). 366 arrived unlawfully by air or boat (<5 seaport, 42 air, 315 maritime arrivals). 979 arrived lawfully but subsequently overstayed or had their visa cancelled. Source: Department of Home Affairs.

As part of the ARAN network, GADRC  is calling for all children and their families that remain on Nauru to be brought to Australia.

Families must be reunited and:

Families must be given freedom and not be placed in detention

Families must be given permanent resettlement (as a matter of urgency) so they can start to build their futures. They have waited too long for this, and it has nearly destroyed them.

Call on the PM and Minister Coleman to accept the New Zealand offer, or settle them here in Australia.

Prime Minister https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm (02) 6277 7700
David Coleman David.Coleman.MP@aph.gov.au (02) 6277 4188