Save The Children Get Payout, Quasi-Apology After Nauru Expulsion

06/05/2016 2:28 PM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 10:00 PM AEST
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(AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND OUT) Asylum seekers on their first day in the compound at Nauru after their long voyages on the Tampa, Aceng and Manoora, 19 September 2001. The AGE Picture by ANGELA WYLIE (Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

After being expelled from the Nauru offshore processing centre in October 2014, development agency Save The Children has received an apology and a "confidential financial settlement" from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Save The Children, a child-focused aid and development agency, had staff working with refugees and asylum seekers in the Nauru centre when "the Department of Immigration and Border Protection directed... Save the Children Australia (SCA), to remove ten of its employees from the provision of services," stated a release on the DIBP website on Friday.

"Nine of those employees were subsequently deported by the Nauruan Government."

The department admitted on Friday its decision -- made under former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison -- had been based "on allegations that the staff had orchestrated protest activity, coached and encouraged self-harm of detainees, engaged in a campaign to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Government’s regional processing arrangements and misused and improperly disclosed sensitive and confidential information."


Nauru, from the air

The release of a review into the removal of SCA staff in January found the information the department relied on "did not warrant issuing the removal."

The department said on Friday that it had adopted "all" of the Doogan review's recommendations, including "the recommendation to place SCA in the position they would have been in, had the removal letter not been issued. In part the Department has done this by reaching a confidential financial settlement with SCA."

"The Department also recognises that SCA has suffered detriment for which – to adopt the words of Professor Doogan – the payment of money cannot be adequate compensation."

"Although SCA is no longer providing services for the Department on Nauru, the Department affirms SCA’s good standing with it and acknowledges that at the time of the removal direction and subsequently, it had no reason to cause doubt to be cast on SCA’s reputation."


Inside the Nauru camp

Mat Tinkler, director of policy and public affairs for SCA, told HuffPost Australia he could not comment in-depth on the settlement, other than to say the agency was "satisfied" with the response.

"They've expressed their regret about the way their allegations may have led others to question our integrity," he said.

Tinkler also detailed his concerns about the current situation on Nauru, with several recent high-profile cases of self-harm including a young Iranian man who died in hospital after setting himself on fire.

"People have been on this tiny island for three years, and they are completely devoid of hope. That's what is causing them to take drastic measures and harm themselves," he said.

"We're concerned the self-harm we've seen is the tip of the iceberg. Unless the government indicates that they have hope for resettlement somewhere, this will keep happening."

"We believe [self-harm incidents] are happening more. This is not an isolated sequence of events, and it is getting worse."

Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, was highly critical of the government after the SCA settlement was announced.

"The shameful practice of the government, which is to blame the victims and those advocating for them, has backfired. These Save the Children workers were baselessly and unfairly accused of coaching self-harm on Nauru," she said in a statement.

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