Allegations of sexual, physical and verbal assaults of asylum seeker children by Nauru detention centre staff have been detailed as part of submissions into a national inquiry.
Staff employed on the Nauru Immigration Detention Centre have detailed allegations of multiple violations of human rights in a submission to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.
The submission is among the more than 200 submitted to the inquiry, launched by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
All images courtesy of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The 53-page document lodged by Save the Children Australia employees details multiple reports of sexual assault involving asylum seeker children, stating that no “working with children” check system exists in Nauru.
“There have been several employees accused of physical, verbal and the sexual assault of children,” it reads.
“The employees that work in the Nauru offshore processing centre… have unrestricted access to children and their families.
“Children have been the victim of sexual, physical and verbal assaults by employees.”
One child allegedly reported being sexually abused by an employee at the centre, while another reported overhearing a number of men making plans to sexually assault her.
One report alleged that multiple children were subjected to an “attempted assault” by an employee who was driving them back from school.
The report states that the driver “stopped the bus and asked [redacted] to get off the bus, which [redacted] declined to do”.
“The bus driver then picked up a cricket bat and swung it at [redacted] with the intention to hurt him and other children on the bus,” it read.
The ‘dehumanisation of the children’
The document also details the alleged “dehumanisation of the children”, who are referred to by boat numbers instead of their names.
It alleges that service providers identify children by boat numbers, prompting comments from children that they feel like “we are animals and not people”.
It also detailed conditions such as those imposed on a 13-year-old girl who only had two pairs of underwear, and only one which she could use while on her period.
“She felt shame because she was an adolescent girl and each day she had to wash her underwear and hang them to dry in front of her father, which was not culturally appropriate,” it read.
“She went for months without additional underwear despite multiple written requests.”
Another instance detailed an asylum seeker being denied a new pair of shorts, despite one pair being torn so badly his genitals were exposed. He was not provided with underwear.
‘Outbreaks of lice, gastroenteritis and school sores’
The document also alleges cramped living quarters, with 12 to 15 families forced into one tent - despite average temperatures of 31 degrees.
“The size of the room is extremely cramped and people are allotted one square metre of living space per person,” it reads.
“The cramped quarters have no air conditioning or walls. They are merely separated from their neighbours by a partition of fabric.”
Children have collapsed numerous times due to heat exhaustion, while lessons are held amid constant construction noise.
Hygiene was also highlighted, alleging blocked toilets spilling faeces onto floors and the provision of only two toilets for approximately 200 children.
“There are outbreaks of lice, gastroenteritis and school sores,” it read.
“Furthermore, children are subject to toilets lacking in basic sanitation.”
It also alleges that a pastor scheduled to conduct Easter services was denied entry as his thongs were deemed as “unsafe” footwear, despite the majority of children only having thongs to wear.
‘We have actually taken many steps backwards’
Another submission from an anonymous child protection and support worker alleged abuse of children, detailing reports of older children having sex with younger asylum seekers.
It also details “inappropriate” responses from guards.
“There was another incident where a local Wilson's security officer witnessed the sexual assault of an 8-year-old male child by other male asylum seekers while they were standing in line, and in public view which included two adult males touching the child in the groin area with other people in the line laughing,” it read.
“The guard yelled at these men to stop but did nothing to remove the men from the situation. He stated that he was ‘confused’ and thought it may be ‘cultural’.”
When asked what progress had been made in regards to children in immigration detention over the past decade, the worker responded that “we have actually taken many steps backwards”.
“The issues that were present in the last inquiry are still present in a more stark and urgent way,” it read.