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Sign Petition Asking Australian Government to Accept Processing Centre Refugees

By: Emma Joyal 

In August 2012, the Australian government introduced an “offshore detention regime” after an increase in asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. This policy forces all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to be placed in refugee processing centres on the island of Nauru, as well as on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. 

The conditions in these centres have detrimental effects on the well-being of the refugees. There have been numerous cases of physical and sexual abuse, violent attacks, and unjust imprisonment, all without repercussions. These cruel conditions have seriously deteriorated the mental health of the individuals in these centres and adequate medical treatment has not been provided. 

Since the policy was first implemented, about 1,200 people have been placed in the Nauru centre, and another 800 people have been held in the centre on Manus Island.

Though roughly 80% of the asylum seekers in these centres have had their claims processed and fit the UN definition of a “refugee”, they are still being denied entry into Australia. On average, most of these refugees have spent up to 469 days in one of the centres—and this number is steadily increasing. The only way for these refugees to escape the conditions they are currently facing is to return to the countries from which they originally fled, most often due to religious persecution and violence. 

The centre on Manus Island was recently closed after the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that what was occurring in the processing centre was unconstitutional. Despite this ruling, the Australian government is still not prepared to accept the refugees who were held in this centre. Because of this, most of the refugees have simply been moved to a newer facility on the island, however, this new centre continues to be unsafe and still does not provide the refugees with adequate services.

It is clear that this policy created by the Australian government has gone on for far too long. As part of my Grade 11 Global Issues course, I created a petition asking the Canadian government to act on this issue by either urging the Australian government to accept all the processing centre refugees into the country, or in turn, bring them here to Canada. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, sponsored the petition and it is currently on the government’s e-petition website. It must reach 500 signatures by September 6th, 2018 in order to be presented in front of the House of Commons.

As a nation of diverse and accepting individuals, we must take a stand on this pressing issue and assist the refugees held on Nauru and Manus Island. Please click this link to sign the petition.Emma Joyal is a 17-year-old high school student from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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