The Union is engaged in a range of equity and social justice initiatives including activities in support of fair treatment of refugees and their children. Following an announcement by the Minister for Immigration to return 72 children to Nauru that are currently held in detention on the Australian mainland, the IEU joined the campaign against the transfer of the children. A rally was held in Sydney on 4 February.
IEU members have great concern about the impact of detention centres on children with IEU Council members donating generously to Chilout (Children Out of Immigration Detention) on World Refugee Day 2015. It is reported that the average length of time that asylum seekers (including children) spend in detention is 445 days. Alarming statistics are available about the devastating impact on the mental health of children in Nauru. There is also great concern about the exposure of children to abuse and sexual harassment in the centres.
The Union will continue to work with Chilout to make 2016 the year that ends child detention. The IEU also has a broad commitment to campaign for fair treatment of asylum seekers. The High Court’s recent 6-1 ruling that Australia’s detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful opens the door for the return of more than 220 asylum seekers to Nauru. This includes children and 37 babies born in Australia. The legal decision however has sparked significant community comment about the moral issue. We invite all IEU members Australia wide to join this important campaign.
The NSW/ACT IEU Women’s Committee launched the year with the IEU International Women’s Day Event held on 4 March at the Union’s Wattle St Office. Union leader and Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW, Emma Maiden spoke about ‘Women in Unions’ and IEU member and secondary school teacher, Cassandra Pride presented ‘Boys Reading Women’. These now annual evening events are popular get togethers for members and friends of the IEU.
The Committee has an ambitious annual program with networks in city and regional centres. The biennial Women’s Conference will be held on Friday 19 August 2016.