Local, Independant and Effective
March 06, 2014

Government has duty of care for asylum seekers: Cathy McGowan AO

Caring for Asylum Seekers in Australian detention facilities: we can do better, says Federal Member for Indi

Today the Federal Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, spoke in Parliament about the need to uphold the duty of care for asylum seekers in detention.

“I know this is a complex issue, but I believe we can and must do better,” Ms McGowan said.

“Within this parliament we’ve got the skills, we’ve got the knowledge. Now we need the political will to stop people dying at sea, assess their refugee status, keep them safe, and treat people under our care with humanity and dignity.

“I am not being sentimental or soft on this issue. My intent was to remind parliament that we have a duty of care and are responsible for the wellbeing of asylum seekers.”

Ms McGowan said when the politics is stripped away, two points emerge and have consensus in the Parliament.

“First, Australia as a sovereign nation has the right to vet people who come to this country,” she said.

“Secondly, Australians expect our Government to uphold human rights, and respect human dignity.”

Ms McGowan also commended the government on its work in stopping deaths at sea.

“I call on the government to respond to my constituent’s concerns and create a solution that not only stops people from risking their lives to come here, but also ensures that on the other side of our detention process the people are healthy, sane and most certainly alive,” Ms McGowan said.

Delivered in the Federation Chamber, the speech identified the great concern that many people in Indi have expressed to Ms McGowan about the treatment of asylum seekers in detention.

“Many of my constituents are concerned about the current treatment of refugees, particularly women and children, who seek asylum in Australia and feel there has to be a better way,” Ms McGowan said.

The Member for Indi also urged her parliamentary colleagues to continue to advocate for better treatment of asylum seekers in their party rooms.

Today in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Commission will be calling on the Australian government to review its treatment of asylum seekers.

“It’s important that we heed these requests from the international community just as we would expect them to listen to us,” Ms McGowan said.

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