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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4188

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:30): Yesterday I spoke about the tragic plight of Behnam Satah on Manus Island, the young female African refugee who was raped on Nauru and flown to Port Moresby for a termination, and Omid, who died from his burns after self-immolating on Nauru. Today another young refugee woman on Nauru is in a critical condition after setting herself on fire.

Today the UNHCR has released a statement including the following:

There is no doubt that the current policy of offshore processing and prolonged detention is immensely harmful. There are approximately 2,000 very vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. These people have already been through a great deal, many have fled war and persecution, some have already suffered trauma. Despite efforts by the Governments of PNG and Nauru, arrangements in both countries have proved completely untenable.

The situation of these people has deteriorated progressively over time, as UNHCR has witnessed firsthand over numerous visits since the opening of the centres. The consensus among medical experts is that conditions of detention and offshore processing do immense damage to physical and mental health. UNHCR's principal concern today is that these refugees and asylum-seekers are immediately moved to humane conditions with adequate support and services.

My constituent Tim Winton put it well in his Palm Sunday address:

Prime Minister, forget the boats for a moment. Turn back your heart. Turn back from this path to brutality. Turn back from piling trauma upon the traumatised. Because it shames us. It grinds innocent people to despair and self-harm and suicide. It ruins the lives of children. Give these people back their faces, their humanity ... For the sake of this nation's spirit.

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