On February 11, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) report The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, was tabled in parliament. The report looked at the effect on children of being locked up in detention centres in Australia and Christmas Island but not Nauru.
The report reveals that 34% of the children have mental health disorders so severe they need psychiatric support. This compares to 2% in the general population.
In a 15-month period during 2013-14 there were 128 incidents of self-harm and 27 incidents of voluntary starvation involving children.
AHRC president Gillian Triggs said: “When our Report was written last October, these children had been detained for an average of 14 months. Today their detention has lengthened to 17 months.”
The report has left the Coalition government outraged. Not, of course, at the facts revealed in the report but because someone had the temerity to point them out.
The Age reported that Attorney-General George Brandis had asked Triggs to resign over the report. Government MPs went to the media with cries of bias.
In one of the government’s numerous expressions of outrage at the report, Liberal back-bencher George Christensen said: “I have more confidence in getting impartial advice from Green Left Weekly than from Gillian Triggs.”
This is far from the first time that politicians and right-wing columnists have thrown around the name of GLW as an exemplar of what they most hate.
GLW is committed to revealing what the government would like to see hushed up.
When asylum seeker Reza Barati was murdered and others assaulted in the Manus Island detention centre last year, then immigration minister Scott Morrison claimed that he was killed outside the detention centre in a mass escape by the asylum seekers.
GLW, on the other hand, reported eye-witness accounts that the attacks took place in the compound with asylum seekers being dragged from their beds and beaten.
Morrison was subsequently forced to admit that most of the story he put out was wrong.
You can help us keep reporting the facts the government don’t want people to know by donating to the GLW fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia). Donations can also be made online at greenleft.org.au.
Direct deposits can also be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account no. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007.