On 3 October 2014, the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison announced an inquiry into allegations of sexual and physical assault of asylum seekers at the detention centre on Nauru (the Review). The Review responded to letters from Senator Hanson-Young to the Minister setting out the allegations of assault and subsequent reports in the media. The Review also followed the removal of ten Save the Children staff from Nauru amid allegations that the staff had fabricated stories of child abuse and encouraged asylum seekers to engage in self-harm.

The Review was led by former integrity commissioner Philip Moss and investigated events in the period July 2013 to October 2014. It received submissions from Save the Children, Transfield Services, the Australian Federal Police and Senator Hanson-Young. On 20 March 2015, the final report was released.

The Terms of Reference for the Review stated that its purpose was to provide a ’complete and accurate account of the circumstances, to determine the substance of the allegations‘. In particular, the Review was asked to investigate:

  • claims of physical and sexual assault of transferees;

  • the encouragement of transferees to engage in self-harm and protest actions potentially endangering the safety and security of people at the centre; and

  • the misuse and unauthorised disclosure of sensitive and confidential information.

The Review travelled twice to Nauru to obtain materials from the Nauruan Police Force and to conduct interviews with asylum seekers in relation to the conduct and behaviour of staff members at the Centre and the allegations of assault.

The Review concluded that:

  • there have been a number of allegations of rape, indecent assault, sexual harassment and physical assault of asylum seekers, including minors, at the Centre (p 42);

  • it is possible that Nauruan guards have been trading marijuana with detainees in exchanges for sexual favours (p 43);

  • no information obtained indicated conclusively that contract service provider staff members orchestrated or facilitated protest activity (p 69); and

  • it was not possible to obtain conclusive information to suggest that Save the Children staff members coached or encouraged transferees to self-harm (p 70).

The Review also made 19 separate recommendations for the future operations of the Centre in Nauru, including that:

  • contract service providers review their guidelines relating to sexual harassment and sexual relationships to ensure that staff members understand what behaviour is acceptable (Recommendation 2);

  • Nauruan government officials and the Department review and enhance the existing policy framework for identifying, reporting, responding to, mitigating and preventing incidents of sexual and other physical assault at the Centre (Recommendation 4); and

  • the decision which required Save the Children to remove ten of its staff members from providing services in Nauru be reviewed (Recommendation 9).

In a media release accompanying the publication of the final report, the Department accepted all of the Review’s recommendations and stated that it had begun work to implement them.



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Last updated 17 May 2015

Review into recent allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru, Final Report, released 20 March 2015.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Media release, 20 March 2015.

Senator Hanson-Young, Letter to Mr Scott Morrison, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, 26 September 2014