While the heat is being turned up on the Government to evacuate more refugee children off Nauru Island, both major parties are drawing a hard line around this divisive issue.
The imminent risk of a child dying on Nauru island has seen some progress in getting 11 children required medical treatment here in Australia.
But the Refugee Rights Action Network says there are still 47 children remaining on Nauru who urgently need to be evacuated.
They are also calling on the government to take responsibility and bring them to Australia.
“We’ve seen the medical facilities on Nauru are not equipped to provide that, so the only real solution is to bring the kids to Australia where they can access specialist paediatric care,”
Media Spokesperson for RRAN, Michelle Bui, said the policies implemented by the Government have caused this mental health emergency.
“I think Australia has created the mental health problems that these children re experiencing or exposed to them to that, so therefore we have a responsibility to make sure that the children now have the care that they require,” she said.
Ms Bui also commented on Australia’s reluctance to accept New Zealand’s refugee resettlement offer, saying it should have been accepted several years ago when it was offered.
“The more people who can be resettled and have a safe place to live and rebuild their lives, the better..”
However she explained the deal is problematic as it is contingent with the proposed lifetime ban from Australia.
An online Facebook survey asking whether all refugees should be brought to Australia attracted a 52 per cent yes response, with the other 48 per cent answering no.
Global politics and policy lecturer, Dr Ian Cook, said there’s an extent to which people are decided on this issue.
“There are plenty of people that are feeling a little bit vulnerable at the moment, and somewhat fearful about the future of Australia and view immigration as one of the major issues,” he explained.
Dr Cook said it’s an issue that younger people tend to have more progressive views on.
“They’re less concerned about changing Australian culture in the way that some of the older australians are concerned about, they want to keep it in the same sort of culture that they grew up in…”
“I think young people aren’t looking to maintain life in the 1960s, they’re look towards life in the 2020s and they’re more open to it being different from how it was back then,” he commented.
Ms Bui believes a lack of engagement is to blame for the constant need to convince people of what is documented in these refugee camps.
“There are large sections of the Australian population that don’t engage with this, and if people really understood what was going on I think there’d be 70-80% in favour of people being brought here, and only a minority saying no,” she said.
As momentum continues to build around this issue, the Government and opposition will need to loosen their resistance on immigration in the lead up to the next federal election.
“It’s a very difficult issue for both major parties, there’s elements in both that are resistant to immigration and see this refugee situation as something they want to hold a hard line around,” Dr Cook stated.
The Refugee Rights Action Network supports the calls to the Government made my numerous other agencies to immediately evacuate everyone of the Islands.
Ms Bui expressed serious concerns that if people are not evacuated, the next person to die is going to be a child.
“Ultimately the government is responsible for the people who are exiled to these offshore camps, so every death is blood on the governments’ hands and its something for which they are accountable for,” she said.