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Photo: Jayne Osgood

Early childhood experts worldwide say #LetThemStay

In January, more than 930 Australian academics lobbied the government to release children from detention on Nauru. Now, academics from the UK have joined their cause.

Professor Jayne Osgood, early childhood researcher at Middlesex University, has rallied 112 fellow early childhood experts from across the globe to sign a letter to Malcolm Turnbull, calling for children to be removed from Nauru or not to be sent there in the first instance.

Osgood told Nursery World UK she felt compelled to act because she was “troubled by the difficulties [her] Australian colleagues were experiencing in raising awareness of the treatment of refugees”.

Drawing on the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ statement that “no child … should be transferred from Australia to Nauru”, she contended that the “shocking” conditions at the Pacific island detention centre posed “a very real threat to children’s emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing”.

She also mentioned the distressing incidence of children self-harming or being on suicide watch.

Ending the letter with a plea to the government to close the centre and process all asylum seekers onshore, Osgood said she and her peers “owe it to all children to make their plight [their] concern”.

The author of the Australian petition, professor Philomena Murray, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne, said Osgood’s initiative delighted her.

As at January 31, there were 54 children in detention on Nauru, Department of Immigration and Border Protection statistics showed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in an interview on ABC TV’s Insiders earlier in February, implicitly supported government immigration policy, including that of detaining Australian-born, asylum-seeking children offshore.

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