find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Infrastructure Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Perth WA
· We'd be particularly interested to hear from you if you were a lawyer who knows your way around the infrastructure and energy sectors.
View details
Save the children… or not

Save the children… or not

Felicity Nelson Journalist Lawyers Weekly

No child deserves to be abused and degraded for arriving on our shores unannounced, regardless of how they got here or why they left home, writes Felicity Nelson.

I can only hope that the readers who let loose a tirade of sarcastic remarks in response to our ‘children in detention’ story aren’t parents.

Last week, Lawyers Weekly published an article called Legal bodies shame govt over children in detention report. The article outlined the legal industry’s response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s The Forgotten Children report and received a number of polarised comments, with many readers taking aim at the “lefty lawyers” who have called for the release of children from detention.

These “lefty lawyers” include members of the Australian Bar Association, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Human Rights Law Centre and the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Their outrage stems from the findings of the report, which showed that there were 128 incidents of self-harm amongst children in detention over a 15-month period; and that 34 per cent of child detainees suffer from severe mental health disorders, compared to two per cent of children in the general community.

The report also revealed that children in detention were exposed to unacceptable levels of assault, including sexual assault and violence.

Despite these distressing findings, one reader, ‘Edgar’, commented: “Two things should happen: Triggs made resign and this report archived.”

“Send them and their parents back to where they bloody well came from the lot of them. They are all here illegally and send them back,” wrote ‘Paul’.

“Indeed. Anyone who just shows up should be allowed to stay here. What could go wrong?” contributed ‘Pez’.

“They should rename the ‘asylum seeker boats’ to ‘asylum seeker gravy train’,” wrote ‘Greg’, who seemed to have forgotten he was commenting on an article exposing the mistreatment of children.

Is there ever really any political justification for child abuse? Did anyone seriously expect that an independent inquiry would show detention to be anything less than traumatic and dangerous for children?

It is almost as though these commenters were saying, ‘Let’s not forget who the real victim is here. We Australians have to suffer the burden of dealing with asylum seeker children while all they have to put up with is mental illness, poor health, self-harm and sexual abuse’.

However, these views do not reflect the Lawyers Weekly readership. Others echoed the views of the legal bodies, with ‘Ben’ writing: “[The detention of children] is a black stain on the nation’s soul. All PMs from Keating onwards should be before the Hague for this”.

‘Absurdiness Brown’ commented, “It is horrible situation. To think of children being in that position is painful”.

“But it’s also painful to think of them drowning as their parents take them in disposable boats in an attempt to get here,” the commenter added.

Punishing children who travel to Australia in boats to seek asylum is probably an effective deterrent, but it is also cruel and beneath us.

Felicity Nelson is a journalist at Lawyers Weekly.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Save the children… or not
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...