Listen: Claire Rogers, CEO of World VIsion Australia, in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Claire Rogers, CEO of Christian Aid Agency, World Vision Australia, is frustrated and angry. It is not so much the worldwide issues of famine, poverty and injustice that are upsetting her.
What is really getting to her is the heartbreaking situation of more than 100 children being held in offshore detention on Nauru. The miniscule, remote island has been home for the children and their parents for almost five years.
“As CEO of World Vision Australia, I am leading our efforts to ensure the rights of children are recognised and upheld across the globe. The last place I had expected to have to wage this battle is in my own country.” says Rogers.
She is horrified that a country like Australia is responsible for the children detained on Nauru being treated so badly for so long.
No child should be locked up
“More than 120 children who arrived on our shores – by sea – seeking refuge with their parents are now trapped against their will. Almost five years on, neither the condemnation of the UN or the outcry of many good Australians has rescued the lost children of Nauru.” laments Rogers.
Nauru is a tiny speck in the ocean
Nauru is a remote island of just 21 sq km. The closest land is the Solomon Islands more than 1,000 kms away. The shoreline of Naru can be walked around in one afternoon, but you need to be careful you are not attacked by the wild dogs roaming the island.
Secondary mining of Phosphate rock in Nauru, 2007. Photo: Lorrie Graham/AusAID
Wild dogs roam Nauru
The island has been environmentally devastated by decades of phosphate mining last century. Most of the lush tropical vegetation and wildlife have been destroyed by the mining. Much of what remains are unshaded rocks too hot for the children to play on. Around the island the many tall pillars of limestone, towering meters above what is now the surface, are another legacy of the phosphate mining.
Enormous rock pinnacles are scattered throughout Nauru, the remnants after large scale phosphate mining.
Nauru detainees need safety and resettlement
Claire Rogers spoke on Open House about these children being denied liberty, education, community family and opportunity. She wants the children of Nauru, and their parents, to be resettled and safe. She believes there is a fundamental ethical and moral breakdown at the heart of our offshore solution.
The central question she asks all of us is, “What has become of our moral compass on how we should treat the most vulnerable among us, our children?”
To listen to the podcast of this conversation, click the red play button at the top of the page, or you can subscribe to Open House podcasts in iTunes and they will appear in your feed.