02 July 2015

Immigration workers ask to be charged under new Border Force gag laws

Suffer the little children: The Government and the Opposition both voted for new laws gagging whistleblowers from speaking out about what they see at detention centres

Scores of current and former workers at Australia's immigration detention centres write an open letter to Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Bill Shorten, challenging them to prosecute the authors under new laws aimed at gagging workers from speaking out about abuses in these concentration camps.

TO: The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott;
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton;
Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten

Today, the Border Force Act comes into force. It includes provision for a two-year jail sentence for “entrusted persons”, such as ourselves, if we continue to speak out about the deplorable state of human rights in immigration detention without the express permission of the minister for immigration and border protection. This strengthens the wall of secrecy which prevents proper public scrutiny.

We have advocated, and will continue to advocate, for the health of those for whom we have a duty of care, despite the threats of imprisonment, because standing by and watching sub-standard and harmful care, child abuse and gross violations of human rights is not ethically justifiable.

If we witness child abuse in Australia we are legally obliged to report it to child protection authorities. If we witness child abuse in detention centres, we can go to prison for attempting to advocate for them effectively. Internal reporting mechanisms such as they are have failed to remove children from detention; a situation that is itself recognised as a form of systematic child abuse.

Evidence of the devastating effects of institutional self-protection and blindness to child abuse has been presented before the current royal commission. We are determined not to collude with a system that repeats these same mistakes.

There are currently many issues which constitute a serious threat to the health of those in detention for whom we have a duty of care. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is aware of these problems and has for years failed to address them adequately.

We are aware that in publishing this letter we may be prosecuted under the Border Force Act and we challenge the department to prosecute so that these issues may be discussed in open court and in the full view of the Australian public.

Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, MBBS M.H.Med B.H.Sc, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Richard Kidd, BHB, MBChB, Dip.Obs., FAMA, Deputy Chair AMACGP, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Grant Ferguson, MBBS B.Sc (Hons), former IHMS medical officer
Dr Ben Hew, MBBS B.Sc, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Alison Bleaney, MBchB FRACRRM OBE, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Merrilyn Williams, MBBS, M. (GP Psych) FACRRM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Ai-Lene Chan, MBBS FRACGP ObsSC MPH&TM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr John Vallentine, MBBS MRCP, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Jill Maxwell, MBBS OAM, former IHMS medical officer
Dr Sally Manuell, MBBS FRACGP, former IHMS medical officer
Prof Bernard Pearn-Rowe, BSc (Hons), MBBS, FAMA, former IHMS medical officer
Tracey Donehue, secondary school teacher
Judith Reen, secondary school coordinator
Jane Willey, former secondary school teacher
Evan Davis, former senior secondary school teacher
Dr Peter Young, MBBS FRANZCP, former IHMS medical director mental health services
Steve Brooker, BSc MA, former IHMS director of mental health services
Dr Rodney Juratowitch, MBBS FRANZCP, former IHMS psychiatrist
Dr Amanda Trenaman, MBBS, FRANZCP, former IHMS psychiatrist
Prof Robert Adler, PhD MBBS, former IHMS psychiatrist
Ryan Essex, BHSc, Grad Dip Psych, BSocSc (Psych), (Hons), MHL, MPH, former IHMS counsellor
James Harris, former case manager and residential youth worker
Toby Gunn, former child and youth recreation officer
Samantha Betts, BA, former child and youth recreation worker
Martin Reusch, former humanitarian worker
Timm Knapp, former humanitarian worker
Amanda Lloyd-Tait, former humanitarian worker
Jennifer Dennis, former humanitarian worker
Amy Marden, former humanitarian worker
Prof David Isaacs, MBBChir MD FRACP FRCPCH, former IHMS paediatrician
Dr Hasantha Gunasekera, MBBS FRACP, former IHMS paediatrician
Alanna Maycock, BN RN, former IHMS paediatric nurse
Prof Louise Newman, MBBS PhD FANZCP AM, former DEHAG consultant IHMS psychiatrist
Dr Micheal Dudley, AM MBBS BD FRANZCP, former DEHAG consultant
Prof Caroline de Costa, PhD MPH MBBS BA FRANZCOG FRCOG, former DEHAG consultant
Viktoria Vibhakar, MSW, LCSW, AASW, former senior child protection and support worker
Ashleigh Millard, former adult case manager and social worker
Jaime O’donovan, former social worker, child protection team
Hamish Tacey, BBehavSc, former unaccompanied minor team leader and refugee assistance program case manager
Serena Hansen, former case manager and residential team leader
Marc Isaacs, BA (Com), BA (Int.S), former recreations manager

The Secrecy of the Australian Government MUST Be Stopped