An Australian-born baby with a Queensland birth certificate will today spend his first birthday behind razor wire, having spent his entire life living in detention.
Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Murray Watt said Ferouz’s first birthday was another sad reminder of the huge human and financial cost of keeping children and families in detention.
“The first birthday of any child should be cause for celebration, but for Ferouz and his family it will be just another day behind razor wire,” Mr Watt said.
“Most Australian kids would be spending their first birthday with cake, presents and learning to walk and play outside.
“Instead, Ferouz – who was born right here in Brisbane – remains locked up in detention, with an uncertain future.
“Clearly this situation is no sort of celebration; rather it’s a sad reminder of the human cost of detention for Ferouz and his family and also the financial cost to taxpayers.
“We’ve seen many reports from independent doctors setting out the long-term psychiatric harm caused to people – especially children – who are held in detention.
“And taxpayers have now paid over $1 million to lock up Ferouz and his family for more than a year.
“Most Australians would ask whether this is money well spent, especially for a baby born on our very own shores.
“Unfortunately, Ferouz is not alone – the latest Government statistics show we are holding nearly 800 children in detention, and they’ve been held – on average – for more than 14 months, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This is no way for a country like Australia to treat children, no matter where they are from.
“We are challenging the Federal Government’s decision to reject Ferouz’s application for a Protection Visa, with an appeal to be heard by the Full Federal Court on 24 November.
“In the meantime, the Senate will soon vote on legislation which would see Ferouz and around 100 other Australian-born babies taken to Nauru.
“The Senate continues to have an opportunity to step in and protect these Australian-born babies, with a Senate Inquiry now reviewing this legislation.
“We have made a submission to the Inquiry and have asked to appear at the public hearing next week.
“On Ferouz’s first birthday we again call on all Senators to show common sense: these are Australian-born babies and we should let them stay,” he said.