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