The Federal Government’s new Border Force Act Section 42 forbids teachers who work in Australia’s immigration detention centres at Nauru, Manus Island and Villawood to speak up about any information they come across in the course of their work.
Teachers working in detention centres face up to two years in prison for speaking about the students in their care.
This flies in the face of findings at the Royal Commission of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse which demonstrates beyond doubt that children in this country have not been properly protected in the past, because people, including teachers, have not spoken out.
The IEU strongly opposes the Abbott Government’s move to impinge on civil liberties and human rights and indeed, the rule of law itself.
IEU General Secretary John Quessy said: “The sinister Border Force Act Section 42 makes it an offence for an ‘entrusted person’ to ‘make a record of, or disclose’ protected information’”.
“Would the Prime Minister be happy to accept that those caring for his children were fearful of speaking out about suspected abuse? A consequence of these laws, perhaps unintended, is that abusers will be protected and not exposed,” Mr Quessy said.
“Basically what the Federal Government is doing with the introduction of this law is punishing teachers for standing up for their students, whose classrooms happen to be in a detention centres.”
An IEU Facebook post on this topic caused outrage among members with more than 40 comments received, universally condemning the Act.
Here are just a few samples: “I am speechless. Probably just as well or I could be facing criminal charges!”
“So much for mandatory reporting.”
“Am I still in Australia? How can this happen. I thought it was mandatory to report childminding abuse.”
“Duty of care? Child protection? Democracy? Foreign concepts to those in Canberra it seems. I weep.”