NEWS Statement in response to the Refugee Council of Australia release

​Statement in response to the Refugee Council of Australia release on Australia’s regional processing arrangements in Nauru entitled ‘Australia’s Man-made crisis on Nauru: Six years on’

​The Refugee Council of Australia's latest report on Australia's regional processing arrangements in Nauru entitled 'Australia's Man-made crisis on Nauru: Six years on' repeats claims that have been refuted by the Australian Border Force, the Department of Home Affairs, and service providers, on numerous occasions.

The Department notes that the Refugee Council of Australia did not approach the Department in preparing the report, or to verify the allegations made within it.

In many cases the report references unsubstantiated claims made by individuals or advocacy groups as fact in the absence of evidence.

The Department takes the health and safety of refugees and transferees in Nauru very seriously and welcomes independent scrutiny of Australia's support of regional processing arrangements.

Independent monitoring in Nauru is conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and service provision to refugees and asylum seekers is monitiored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross and the Commonwealth Ombudsman – all have visited Nauru on numerous occasions.

The Australian Government's position has not changed; these individuals will never settle permanently in Australia.

Facts about support provided in Nauru

Departmental staff and contracted service providers who engage with children on behalf of the Department must hold a 'working with children/vulnerable persons check'. Contracted service providers must also ensure their service delivery settings align with the Department's policies and procedures.

Decisions about medical transfers are made on a case by case basis according to clinical need, in consultation with the contracted health services provider and following advice from Medical Officers of the Commonwealth.

All transferees in Nauru who have requested a termination of pregnancy have been provided with that treatment.

Incidents involving minors on Nauru are referred to the Government of Nauru Child Protection Unit. A range of care, welfare and support arrangements are in place to provide for the needs of children and young people. Service providers are contracted to provide age-appropriate health, education, recreational, wellbeing and cultural services and activities.

All refugee and transferee families are now living in accommodation in the Nauruan community.

Health professionals regularly engage with refugees and asylum seekers in regards to their mental health and individuals have access to counselling services as needed.

In addition to the significant investment in health services in Nauru, the Commonwealth of Australia has recently established a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), facilitated through the health service provider in Nauru, International Health and Medical Services (IHMS). CAMHS was established in Nauru to provide child mental health services using an outpatient/outreach model.

When a person cannot receive appropriate treatment for a significant health condition in Nauru, the person is offered treatment in Taiwan, Papua New Guinea or Australia. Those cases are referred to the Department by the person's treating clinician and, in all cases, clinical advice is provided by a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth. Individuals must give consent to be transferred from Nauru to another country.

Refugees in Nauru can resettle in Cambodia or express interest in United States resettlement. Cambodia is an important part of Australia's multi-country approach to the settlement of refugees in Nauru, and offers an enduring settlement option for those in Nauru seeking to start a new life.

The reference in the report to AUD50 million on spending is incorrect and largely refers to funding for official development assistance to support existing bilateral aid priorities with Cambodia. Since 2014, service delivery costs under the MOU have amounted to less than AUD8 million.

Home Affairs continues to explore third country resettlement opportunities in support of Nauru. It is not appropriate to disclose details of confidential discussions.