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Keeping families separate not the ‘solution’

The Australian Greens were saddened to hear today that the Government is removing an essential part of Australian legislation, designed to reunite refugees with their families, and have renewed their calls for Minister Bowen to reveal the entirety of contracts covering service providers at the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.

“Stopping refugees from being reunited with their families in Australia is the latest in a raft of concerning and inhumane measures being implemented by the Gillard Government,” Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says.

“Yesterday the Government failed to reveal the majority of detention centre contracts that were called for by the Senate and today we hear that they are removing more rights from these already vulnerable people.

“Taking away family reunion concessions is yet another example of the Gillard Government’s bemusing take-up of the Howard era’s damaging regime of mistreatment and only serves to punish the desperate people who come to Australia fleeing wars and persecution.

“With no permanent psychiatrist on Nauru and the general counselling services only available to people on Manus Island at the other end of a telephone in Sydney, the level of care being offered is simply inadequate.

“We heard today about 18 asylum seekers who chose to return home rather than remain in indefinite detention.

“What monitoring is there in place to ensure that the people who are returning to Sri Lanka are kept safe and out of danger?

“The Australian Greens agree that saving lives is the paramount concern, but the removal of family reunion visas could actually see more people put at risk as whole families embark on dangerous boat journeys in an attempt to stay together or to reunite with resettled relatives.

“The only thing that will start saving lives is for the Government to actually implement the increased humanitarian intake recommended in the Houston Report.

“If the Government was serious about saving lives we’d have seen planes bringing the increase of refugees to Australia from Indonesia and Malaysia already.

“They appear eager to implement the harmful recommendations of the Houston Report, but when will that first plane arrive?”

MEDIA CONTACT: Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 604 760

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