Greens Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt has called for a better and safer way for refugees to be processed so they don’t “die at sea and so we don’t lock them up and destroy lives”.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Bandt brought up the issue during Parliament’s Question Time, probing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about a campaign by medical staff at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital against the immigration detention of children.
Doctors are refusing to discharge asylum seeker children back into detention fearing further harm, like nightmares, bed wetting, depression and anxiety.
Mr Turnbull admitted the government’s border protection policies were tough and harsh but insisted they worked.
Speaking on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Mr Bandt said he refused to believe that the only choice was between “people dying at sea and child abuse”.
“Labor set up these detention centres and said that we are going to put kids in them, and as a result, we now have these appalling situations where doctors are saying, ‘I am not going to send a child back there because to send a child back there is to cause them harm’.
Tasmanian Labor Senator Lisa Singh ignored her party’s border protection policies while in power, and said the detention centre debacle “will be a dark mark on our history”.
Assistant Health Minister Ken Wyatt chimed in and said: “I want to remind Adam he was part of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor Government strategy around the detention centres.”
“When we came into government there were 2000 within Nauru, we now have it down to about 104,” Mr Wyatt said.
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Islamic radicalisation ‘community effort’
The panel discussed a fatal terror attack in Parramatta on Friday, October 2, where 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar shot dead 58-year-old NSW Police Force accountant Curtis Cheng. During the police shootout, Jabar was also killed.
A Q&A audience member asked what could be done to mitigate the people who make those following the Islamic religion “susceptible to radicalisation”.
Panel member and Muslim chaplain and community leader, Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, said it required a holistic effort.
“Islam is feared because it’s misunderstood. Not many know what it stands for,” Sheikh Charkawi said.
“I’m on the ground and I speak to a lot of these youth, and I can tell you that the reason why it requires a different way of doing things as to what we have previously done is because I’m seeing a lot of identity issues with the young men and women.
“I keep hearing from many on the streets and in the schools that I visit that they tell us that ‘we don’t belong’, they say that ‘we are not part of the Australian society’.
“What that leads to is to marginalisation, isolation, and if you add that to the mix of the propaganda that is being put forward by the groups like ISIS, it’s a very dangerous mix.”
Mr Bandt backed up this idea with examples from his electorate.
“One of the sets of stories that I hear time and time again, from people, is around this issue of engagement and employment, in particular, we have got people there who have got masters degrees driving taxis and what’s becoming even worse is we are finding it now happening to the second generation,” Mr Bandt said.
“Picking up on the point before, there are children who are born here who have gone to Melbourne uni or RMIT or Sydney uni, get a degree, they send off applications for job interviews, they don’t get a call and as soon as you change your name from Mohammad to David – the phone starts ringing.”
Mr Wyatt said: “The debate we have within the community shouldn’t be just focused on a religion.”