Immigration

All asylum-seeker children off Nauru by end of 2018: Brandis

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The government has flown several more asylum-seeker families from Nauru to Adelaide for medical treatment in recent weeks, with around 40 or 50 children left on the island

The Morrison government plans to get every asylum-seeker child off Nauru by the end of the year, according to Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis.

At least four families have been transferred to Adelaide in recent weeks, with the children now receiving care in an Adelaide hospital.

Earlier in the week, prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed his government was “quietly” working to get children off the Pacific island – one of Australia’s two main offshore centres for processing asylum seekers.

Mr Brandis, the former attorney-general, told a British radio station there was a plan to transfer all the children before year's end. 

“This is a problem that has largely gone away. There are hardly any children in Nauru and in New Guinea and we expect that by the end of this year there'll be none,” Mr Brandis told talkback radio station LBC.

The Morrison government plans to get every asylum-seeker child off Nauru by the end of the year.
The Morrison government plans to get every asylum-seeker child off Nauru by the end of the year.
Supplied/Kids off Nauru

SBS News understands there are around 40 asylum seeker children left on Nauru, out of a population of more than 500. There are more than 500 asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island, too.

Border officials are now agreeing to medical transfers, where before asylum seeker children were rarely allowed to come to Australia without an order from the Federal Court.

There has been a surge in the number of families transferred in recent weeks. The government is not releasing numbers, but the Asylum Seeker Recource Centre said there had been 41 family groups transferred in the past week. Since October 15, 135 people have been brought from Nauru. 

The Centre says there are 38 children left on the island. Five of them have made "repeated" attempts at suicide, it said. 

UK High Commissioner George Brandis.
UK High Commissioner George Brandis.
AAP

Mr Morrison was asked about the plan on 2GB Radio on Thursday but did not confirm details.

"I haven't been showboating about it," he told the program.

He said Labor and others needed to show “respect” to locals on Nauru by not implying the local medical facilities were so bad they were inappropriate for asylum seekers.

SBS News contacted the Department of Home Affairs for more information earlier in the week, including on whether the families are only in Australia for temporary medical treatment. 

A spokesperson responded to the series of questions with a single line:

"The Department does not provide specific details on the transfer arrangements of individuals." 

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