Jesuit Social Services has strongly condemned the High Court’s ruling that more than 200 people seeking asylum, including a number of babies born in Australia, can be sent from the mainland to Nauru.

“Australia’s punitive and inhumane policies surrounding people seeking asylum have long been condemned internationally, including at the UN Human Rights Council,” says Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards.

“Today’s decision by the High Court that these vulnerable people – including women, children and babies – can be sent to what we know is an unsafe environment on Nauru is deeply concerning to us.

“A number of reports over the past 12 months, as well as our own networks and people we work with, have given us and the wider public a clear understanding of the conditions these people face when they are simply in search of a better life in Australia.

“Stories of violence and sexual assault are rife and there is strong evidence that detention has a detrimental impact on the psychological and physical health of people, particularly children. Under the Border Force Act, workers who speak out about the horrors they see face prosecution. This is no way for a democratic and supposedly progressive nation to act,” says Ms Edwards.

“Australia likes to pride itself on being the country of ‘a fair go’ but nothing could be further from the truth when people seeking asylum are treated like this in our name. We have long called for the release of all babies and children from detention, and the immediate closure of all onshore and offshore detention centres.

“Sadly, today’s decision is a reminder that our Government lacks care and compassion for people in its care.”

Jesuit Social Services provides a leadership role in the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA), an initiative that aims to influence hearts and minds across Australia in support of humane and just reform.

“CAPSA believes that people who seek asylum should live in the Australian community, with the financial burden of their support accepted by the Government, and that any period of arbitrary or indefinite detention is unacceptable. Today’s decision could not be any more removed from these beliefs,” says Ms Edwards.

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