Former psychiatrists and social workers employed on Nauru are demanding a Royal Commission into sexual abuse at the Australian-funded detention centre, accusing the Government of putting asylum seeker children at risk.
The former Nauru workers have signed an open letter to the public, which says the Immigration Department was aware of abuse allegations for 17 months and did not respond adequately.
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One of the signatories, Viktoria Vibhakar, a former child protection worker with the charity Save The Children, has broken her silence in an exclusive interview with Lateline. Ms Vibhakar pointed to some of the worst examples from Nauru to highlight the need for a Royal Commission:
- A girl under the age of 11 who said she was sexually assaulted, and later self-harmed.
- A boy about seven years old who was found naked in the middle of the night outside a tent.
- A girl about five years old who exhibited sexualised behaviour, including asking adults to insert items into her anus.
Ms Vibhakar did not specify the children’s exact ages to help protect their identities.
The signatories say the Federal Government was aware of abuse allegations as early as November 2013.
“What the public needs to know is that the Government has been aware for 17 months that children have been sexually assaulted on Nauru,” Ms Vibhakar told Lateline. Ms Vibhakar said she resigned in disgust because she felt her role as clinical social worker was “ethically compromised”.
Shortly after she quit, the Immigration Department ordered her off the island along with nine other Save The Children workers amid allegations contractors had facilitated protests and fabricated sexual abuse allegations. An independent inquiry by former Integrity Commissioner Philip Moss found no evidence of misconduct by Save The Children workers.