Unions show solidarity with Brisbane Children's Hospital staff

February 14, 2016

Unions for Refugees released this statement of solidarity with the stand taken by doctors and nurses at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane staff on February 12.

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Unions for Refugees would like to congratulate the stand taken by doctors and nurses at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane in support of 12-month-old Baby Asha. We encourage every unionist to extend their solidarity to them.

As health workers they know what is best for their patients and no meddling and scapegoating by politicians can change this. It is the basic humanity of workers and the power we have when we take action together that has the potential to end the brutality of the Australian detention system.

Ending the detention system is important for all workers — politicians consistently use it to build fear and racism of innocent people that poisons our workplaces and communities. Politicians use the detention and scapegoating of refugees to distract people from the government's failure to provide decent jobs, health and education for all.

Australia's current refugee policy also wastes billions of dollars that could be used to help people, not to harm them. Detaining a single asylum seeker on Manus or Nauru costs $400,000 per year. When asylum seekers live in the community while their claims are processed it is much cheaper and allows them to contribute to society as well.

As Bill Shorten speaks today to the NSW ALP conference, we call on him to support the movement to “let them stay”. Five state and territory leaders, including Labor premiers in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia have already done this. All 267 asylum seekers must stay in Australia and have their claims processed here — after two years, very few have been heard.

We call on the ALP to reject the policy of offshore detention, which has brutalised hundreds of people and whose twisted logic has now resulted in 36 babies born in Australia likely to be sent to live in dangerous conditions in Nauru.

Baby Asha's short life has been lived entirely within the Australian detention system. Her mother's pregnancy took place in the difficult circumstances and limited health facilities of the Nauru detention centre. She was brought to Australia to give birth but after five months the family was secretly sent back to Nauru. The stress caused her mother's breast milk to fail and the formula provided on Nauru made her sick. Now at the age of 12 months Asha and her family have again been medivacced to Australia.

Baby Asha and her family must not be returned to Nauru. In the words of the children's hospital staff, Asha needs a “suitable home environment”. So do all the asylum seekers and refugees who have fled war and danger and asked Australia to assess their claims for refugee status and support in rebuilding their lives.

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