Australian govt called on to apologise after Moss report
Response to the Moss Review which confirmed rapes and sexual abuse of children in Australia's Nauru detention camp and failed to prove allegations against ten Save the Children workers.
Refugee advocates and medical personnel who worked at Australia's Nauru detention centres are backing a call for an apology from the government to ten former Save the Children staff.
The damning Moss Review released on Friday found allegations made against the workers, most of whom who were abruptly sacked last year, were false.
Indira Moala reports.
The 86-page review was ordered by former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to investigate allegations of assault of asylum seekers, and allegations against the Save the Children, which had been providing services in the camps. The Save the Children staff were deported from Nauru in October, after a three-page security report alleged they had encouraged protests and self-harm as part of a wider campaign to embarrass the Australian government. But the independent review found these claims had no substance but it did confirm cases of rape, the sexual abuse of children and the sale of drugs for sexual favours with some staff at the Nauru facilities. Save the Children's Chief Executive Paul Ronalds says an apology to the staff members who were sacked is warranted, but he isn't expecting it to happen.
PAUL RONALDS: Politics is a pretty tough business and it's unusual for a politician to apologize. So we're not holding our breath on that. We're really just getting on with the day to day work of really trying to support a very vulnerable group of people.
The alleged wider campaign to cast doubt on the government's asylum seeker protection policy, included refugee advocates. The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul, says the Save the Children staff and others besmirched by the government should receive an apology.
IAN RINTOUL: They owe a much wider apology to the Save the Children people, to Refugee advocates that they quite wrongly targeted and did make allegations that there were Refugee advocates and Save the Children people who were coaching asylum seekers about protests. They owe an apology to all the asylum seekers on Nauru for whom they have not provided adequate protection. And that's what fundamentally needs to be addressed.
Paediatrician David Isaacs, who has spent many years treating asylum seeker children, says the Moss findings confirmed what they already knew.
DAVID ISAACS: So I was not surprised but relieved that it showed that the people who were dismissed were certainly wrongly dismissed and that there was no deliberate policy of workers uncovering what was really happening. When I was on Nauru I met one woman who told me that she had been raped by a guard, and that's one of the cases that's in the Moss enquiry.
Dr. Isaacs says the Moss report provides strong evidence of how wrong Canberra's mandatory detention policy is.
Alannah Maycock, a nurse who worked at the Nauru detention camp, agrees with him. But she is doubtful there will be any immediate change.
ALANNAH MAYCOCK: I think there's a long way to go to be honest before there's a change in government policy but I hope that they look at the evidence carefully and consider it. The organisations working there are aware of what's going on and i would find it hard to believe that the government's not aware either. But I hope that they look at the report carefully and do consider it.
Paul Ronalds says Save the Children is pleased the review has exonerated those staff who were sacked and now the organisation wants to move forward and implement its recommendations.
PAUL RONALDS: An apology is absolutely warranted but we're not going to be fixated on that. At the end of the day, we're focussed around what's best for a very vulnerable group of people that continue to be on Nauru. So we're going to work very constructively to implement the recommendations for a range of improvements which we think will help to mitigate some of the harm that's clearly been occurring at the moment.
The Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says his department has accepted and responded to all of those recommendations. He says the department is now working with the Government of Nauru and other service providers to implement that response.
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