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Asylum seeker and refugee children living in detention like conditions on Nauru

The Department of Immigration only reports on asylum seekers on Nauru who are awaiting processing – meaning their figures do not include those children already proven to be refugees.

The most recent reports we have from Nauru state that*:

Asylum seeker and refugee children living in detention like conditions on Nauru: 149

These children range from 0-17 years old.

*Please note these statistics change frequently, due to the lack of detailed information provided by the Australian government it is hard to know the exact numbers and ages of refugee and asylum seeker children on Nauru. 

Asylum seeker children in detention in Australia

(January 31, 2017 figures from the Department of Immigration)

Asylum seekers in community detention: 224

Asylum seekers living in the Australian community, ‘in limbo’ on bridging visas: 3925

Time asylum seekers held in detention

January 31, 2017 – average of 493 days spent in detention.


The Refugee Action Collection have reported that: Detaining a single asylum seeker on Manus or Nauru costs $400,000 per person, per year. Detention in Australia costs $239,000 per year. By contrast, allowing asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs just $12,000 per year, one twentieth of the cost of the offshore camps, and even less if they are allowed the right to work. (See

Four asylum seekers held for a lengthy period on Nauru agreed in June 2015 to be transferred to Cambodia – one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world. The Australian government has provided the Cambodian government with $40 million, together with another $15 million to resettle the four. (See

Refugee Convention

(signed by Australia in 1954)

  • People seeking asylum must not be discriminated against.
  • People seeking asylum must not be penalised for the way in which they have managed to reach a country for refuge.
  • People seeking asylum must not be returned to a place where they fear threats to their lives or freedom.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

(signed by Australia in 1990)

  • The best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all decisions that affect them.
  • Children who come in to a country as refugees should have the same rights as children who are born in that country
  • Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect.


“It’s child abuse. Putting children in detention is child abuse. So our government is abusing children in our name. After 5 days on Nauru, I went home and had nightmares.”

Dr David Isaacs, Sydney pediatrician, 7.30 Report, August 13, 2015

“I speak to you as an American Jew. I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime. I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned in my life is that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem is silence.” 

Rabbi Joachim Prinz, The March on Washington, 1963 (from a documentary Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent, USA, 2014)