President of the Refugee Council of Australia and CEO of Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney, Phil Glendenning sternly criticised government handling of asylum seekers arriving by boat, and particularly detaining women and children for long periods, including on Nauru and Manus Island.
He said it was folly for Prime Minister Abbott to attack The Forgotten Children in Detention Report by Gillian Triggs as a political ‘stitch-up’. He added that anyone who could dismiss such a serious report in such a way was not fit to be in any leadership position in this country.
Glendenning had seen how institutional cruelty led to many cases of self-harm, including by children. A deliberate policy of driving people into depression and despair in an attempt to force them back to the countries they have fled resulted in serious injury to the mental health of refugees, especially the hundreds of children still in detention.
Gillian Triggs’s Report echoed well attested information on the ongoing mental, physical and sexual abuses which are now widely known. Glendenning denied the Report was politically inspired, since it also criticised Labor, and the Human Rights Commission had previously issued 14 reports on these issues, as well as appearing before parliamentary committees.
Speaking at the SPC forum at Box Hill on 17 February, Phil spoke from 18 years’ experience working with refugees at the Edmund Rice Centre. He and his colleagues have tracked people who were denied refugee visas to Australia and returned to their 22 home countries, including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He found many had been badly treated and lived in fear, with at least 30 of them actually killed.
He has documented many of these cases, which were televised as ‘Deported to Danger’ series, and he also contributed to the internationally screened documentary, A Well Founded Fear.
Watch sections of Phil’s talk on Youtube …
Phil Glendenning at
the SPC Forum 19 February 2015
The human cost of Australia’s refugee policy
Phil Glendenning: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention
10 point plan for an effective & compassionate asylum seeker policy