At the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promoted Australia’s border protection policies as a model for other countries. Turnbull argued that the primary concern for domestic asylum policies should be stronger border security. Turnbull’s comments were strongly criticised by detainees on Manus Island, with Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani arguing that ‘Australia’s offshore policy is not based on border protection, it is based on torture’. Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds likewise condemned the comments.
At the subsequent Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by US President Barack Obama, Australia committed to providing an extra $130 million over the next three years ‘to further increase support for refugees and communities in key countries of first asylum’. Turnbull announced that Australia would maintain its humanitarian refugee intake, permanently accepting 18,750 refugees per year by 2018-19, including a percentage from camps in Costa Rica. Turnbull did not address Australia’s offshore processing regime, but Nauru’s President Baron Waqa called on the international community to assist in finding durable resettlement solutions for the more than 900 refugees on the island.
The Australian Human Rights Commission released a report proposing alternatives to Australia’s current asylum-seeker policy. Titled Pathways to Protection: A human rights-based response to the flight of asylum seekers by sea, the report is ‘intended to contribute positively to public debate on alternatives to current third country processing of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru’.
Connect Settlement Services, an agency providing health and education services for refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, announced that it would not re-apply following the completion of its contract in December. The company’s decision comes less than a month after Wilson Security announced its withdrawal from Australia’s offshore detention centres, meaning that all major service providers on Nauru are now planning to leave.