Over the past 2 months Holding Redlich and Adviceline Injury Lawyers has lodged 4 court claims in the Federal Court to have 7 children, aged as young as 2 years, and their families evacuated from Nauru.
Documents lodged with the Court have stated that children had stopped eating, were drinking very small amounts of fluid and had made attempts to end their own lives. During October 2018, in proceedings in the Federal Court, it was agreed that a 17 year old girl, who is at risk of imminent death, should be evacuated from Nauru to Australia for urgent medical treatment.
All of the children and family members assisted have previously been found to be refugees under the Refugee Convention. Prior to arriving on Nauru the families had been subjected to murder, sexual violence and persecution in their home countries.
After recent cases in which medical evacuations have been blocked, despite the Federal Court ordering that the Australia Government ensure the evacuations take place immediately, the Court has recently been ordering that children and their families be placed on specific commercial flights out of Nauru.
Guy Donovan, National Pro Bono Manager at Holding Redlich (of which Adviceline Injury Lawyers is a division), stated the circumstances of the children and their families are truly heartbreaking, and, in all of these cases, had the evacuation of the children been delayed any longer they may have not survived.
It is settled law that the Commonwealth Government owes refugees on Nauru a duty of care, and it's alarming that it requires lawyers acting pro bono to ensure that this duty of care is upheld in order to save the lives of children. It is wonderful that these children can now receive the lifesaving medical care they need, however, it should not need to come this, and I have grave concerns for many of the refugees, including more than 70 children remaining on Nauru.
At Holding Redlich and Adviceline Injury Lawyers, we believe that defending human rights and upholding the rule of law is fundamental to legal practice. Accordingly, we have been willing to bring urgent injunction applications to court, to ensure that vulnerable individuals receive the medical treatment they desperately need. However, with the mental and physical of many refugees on Nauru in alarming decline, there is still a lot of work to be done.
There is clearly a medical crisis on Nauru involving people for which the Australian Government has legal responsibility. There is a growing consensus that waiting until children are on the brink of death before taking any action is not an adequate solution to the problem. Seeking to protect innocent children from harm is something that we can all agree upon, accordingly, this is a problem that should be able to be resolved through a political solution.
There are resettlement options for the people on Nauru who have been found to refugees. This presents a wonderful opportunity to provide fresh hope and new lives for children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, who have experienced trauma that no individuals should be forced to endure. Providing these people with new lives is something that the Australian community could feel extremely proud of.