“We would like to inform the Australian public that the government and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been aware of the sexual and physical assault of women and children on Nauru for at least 17 months, long before the Moss Review was ever commissioned.”

So says an open letter by a group of current and former employees of Australia’s Nauru detention centre.

According to the letter, department staff and service providers at the centre were privy to incident reports about the abuse, and sat in on weekly and daily meetings where it was discussed, but nothing was done. Women and children were still transferred to Nauru.

This is a sickening case of deja vu. Whistleblowers who exposed sexual abuse at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre almost two years ago gave similar evidence of inaction and neglect after reporting rape and intimidation to their superiors.

Peter Dutton claims “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse — but we now know that’s not true. Several immigration ministers have shown plenty of tolerance for sexual abuse, as long as it happens out of sight and offshore.

There is now no grey area here — we have the evidence to prove that successive Australian governments are incapable of keeping asylum seekers detained offshore safe from harm.

Action must be taken now. Shut down the camps.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey