20 May 2015

Concerns over Nauru detention known long before review

10:40 pm on 20 May 2015

Save the Children has told an Australian Senate inquiry into allegations of phsical and sexual assault at the Nauru detention centre that it had raised concerns about conditions long before the Moss Review was released.

Nauru protest

A report found children detained indefinitely on Nauru were suffering from extreme levels of distress. Photo: supplied

The inquiry was launched following the release of the independent review, which detailed assault of detainees by guards, including on children.

Save the Children's chief executive, Paul Ronalds, says some allegationsthat were not getting sufficient traction with authorities in Nauru.

He says those claims were taken to the Australian immigration department.

"Initially it would be escalated on island between our operational staff working with the departmental staff on island. Beyond that it might be escalated with working with departmental officials here in Canberra, and beyond that in some cases it would be escalated by me directly either to the secretary or to the minister."

Save the Children's Paul Ronalds.

The Green Party senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the evidence raises serious concerns about the extent to which the immigration department knew women and children being had abused.

Dutton labels inquiry a "witch hunt"

Australia's immigration minister has called the inquiry a witch hunt.

The inquiry yesterday ran out of time to hear evidence from the immigration department, after it heard from the centre's operator and security firm, as well as representatives from Save The Children.

The minister, Peter Dutton, has accused the opposition Labor and Green parties of delaying proceedings to prevent the department from presenting its evidence, as it would have been an inconvenient truth for the parties' witch hunt.

He says the department will cooperate fully with the inquiry, but it should be seen as nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

Mr Dutton says he has zero tolerance for criminal activity at detention centres, and the department has already made significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Moss Review, which triggered the inquiry.