Government to examine Nauru files

Harrowing abuse incidents and reports of self-harm on Nauru have been revealed in a major document leak.

The federal government's offshore detention centre in Nauru

A new report by the University of Melbourne has found that rates of self-harm among asylum seekers in 200 times more than Australian rates. Source: SBS / , DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION

The federal government has played down a major leak of incident reports outlining abuse and self-harm at the Nauru immigration detention centre, emphasising they were allegations and not fact.

The Guardian Australia on Wednesday published a database of more than 2000 leaked reports dating back to August 2013 and up to October 2015.

More than half relate to children.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government would examine the published material to see if any of the complaints had not been properly addressed.

Australia was already providing support to Nauru police to deal with complaints.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, a former immigration minister, pointed out that the reports were only allegations.

"It's important to stress that incidents reports of themselves aren't a reporting of fact, they are a reporting that an allegation has been made," he told reporters in Sydney alongside the prime minister.

Mr Turnbull batted away calls for a royal commission.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale earlier likened the seriousness of the Nauru reports to the abuse scandal inside a Northern Territory juvenile detention centre.

"We should have a royal commission into the (immigration) detention centre network and its impact on children in detention," he told reporters in Canberra.

Sexual abuse incidents against women and children are among the leaked files.

One document discusses a painting created by a child asylum seeker that depicts "violent/intense sexual activity including the representation of a penis" and claimed that children had seen Nauruan guards pull their pants down and having sex.

A guard allegedly put his hands in the pants of an asylum-seeker child during a car trip, even though the father was present, according to another report.

The leaks also detail cases of self-harm such as a medical staffer witnessing an asylum seeker swallowing rocks.

Another report details the despair and fear of a pregnant mother who was too scared to be transferred to Papua New Guinea to give birth to her child.

Instead she had vowed to have her child in her tent on Nauru and then kill it and herself.

Save the Children, which previously provided welfare services on the island, said the leaked documents underscored the need to find an immediate resettlement solution.

"Nauru is no place for vulnerable children and continuing to leave them to languish there is doing significant harm," spokesman Mat Tinkler said in a statement.

Amnesty International said the leaks laid bare "a system of routine dysfunction and cruelty".

It was dizzying in its scale and damning on Australian authorities trying to maintain a veil of secrecy.

*Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

3 min read
Published 10 August 2016 at 5:54pm
Source: AAP