Stop Separating Refugee Families in Australia

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How can Australia stand by and allow for the most vulnerable members of our community, innocent refugee children, to be arbitrarily separated from their loving families? These children have witnessed sights so horrific that even an adult would shudder at the very thought- murder, bombs, torture. A child cannot be expected to cope with these nightmarish ordeals without support from individuals they can trust- their families.

And yet they are forced to deal with this alone.

 Even the Australian government says that it's important for asylum seeking children to stay with their parents, with an official stating that "children are held in detention with their parents so that they can remain in family groups." However, in practise this is not occurring.

 Indeed, just as recently as July of this year, a 30 year old Sri Lankan refugee was deported overnight, being forced to leave his wife and 11 month old daughter behind. Under Australian law, he will never be able to obtain a short term visa to visit his family, nor will his wife be able to sponsor him to come live permanently with him. This move by the Australian government has been widely criticised by the international community, with UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic stating that it "goes beyond just the refusal to reunite family but, instead, it is actively and indefinitely separating them."

 This is just one of many statements issued by the United Nations condemning the country's approach to refugees, as the policy violated many of the clauses set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with articles 5,9,13,14,15,16,25 being explicitly broken. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has time and time again held the country accountable for its horrific treatment of these individuals, calling the processing regime “unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to [Australia's] human rights obligations."

 The conditions for those who are held in offshore detention facilities are harrowing; lack of access to food, electricity, water. Alongside horrific and abusive treatment from workers, more and more refugees are suffering from severe physical and mental health issues, causing many to self-harm or even commit suicide. However, the truly disturbing part is that even children are not exempt from this; recently a 12 year old trying to set themselves on fire in order to end the suffering came into media attention. Without aid and support from their families, the amount of preventable young deaths occurring is only bound to skyrocket.

 This is why we are calling on the government to ensure that fundamental human rights are met in Australia, the only "developed" nation that imposes mandatory detention on people arriving by boat. A nation where the most vulnerable and defenceless children are torn away from those they love; a nation that willingly places them into harm. A nation that then prompts them to take their lives.

 However, it is a nation based upon the principle that the government must be representative of its people, and one that listens to its citizens when enough outcry occurs. One in which your voice can count. Signing this petition means that we can, as a society, stand up for what is right and demand that the government protects young children from having their families forcibly torn apart. Influence this policy change today; see the impacts in years to come.

What actions should the Federal Parliament take towards this?

It is simple. The separation of families, regardless of an individual's age should not happen unless they willingly do so themselves. We would like for the parliament to find a solution to end this separation, so children can live with their families, because as we've discussed through illustrations and other methods it has a very bad impact on them as a whole. It is not right to let a child grow without their parents, because not only is it inhumane to do so but the trauma the child will grow up with is unbearable for them and for their families. As humans we should be able to empathize, which is why it is important that the government, immediately cease the procedure of separating families and reunite the families that have been separated.