Media Release                                                            14 June, 2017

$70 million no compensation for death and despair at Manus, the St Vincent de Paul Society says

A $70 million settlement by the Federal Government to compensate more than 1900 asylum seekers currently or formerly held at the Manus Island detention centre can never fully compensate for lives lost, or the pain and suffering caused by Australia’s asylum seeker policies, the St Vincent de Paul Society says.

“By paying compensation to detainees, the Government has finally acknowledged both the inhumane conditions on Manus Island and its own responsibility for the harms that asylum seekers and refugees have suffered,” the Society’s National Council CEO Dr John Falzon said.

During the period of their incarceration three people have died, one in a riot, and there have been serious injuries to others. It is well documented other detainees have endured both physical and psychological harm, along with insufficient medical care, food, water and shelter.

“By settling the class action brought by 1905 men detained on Manus Island, the Government has evaded public scrutiny of the abusive and unlawful conditions inside the Manus Island processing centre,” Dr Falzon said.

“The unprecedented settlement effectively dodges a six-month trial, which would have provided an opportunity to hear from more than 100 witnesses, including asylum seekers and staff.

“No amount of money can compensate for the damage that has been done.”

Dr Falzon said the Federal Government must take responsibility for preventing further harm to those still languishing on both Manus Island and at Nauru.

“It is imperative they are immediately evacuated and brought to Australia,” he said.

MEDIA CONTACT:      BELINDA CRANSTON 0400 845 492 or media@svdp.org.au