Christmas Island is an Australian external territory in the Indian Ocean, around 1,550 kilometres north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It is closer to Indonesia than it is to Australia.
For almost twenty years, asylum seekers who attempted to reach Australia by boat had been detained on Christmas Island as part of the Australian Government's plan to prevent refugees from reaching Australian shores and claiming refugee status.
Currently, only one family is in immigration detention on Christmas Island. Even though this Tamil asylum seeker family was on a protection visa and living in Australia, the Government rejected their application for asylum. They then proceeded to deport them back to Sri Lanka, and the courts intervened. While the court cases are being settled, the family was detained on Christmas Island.
The two young children were born in Australia, yet this has not prevented the Government from attempting to deport the family. After three years of detention, the Government continues to push for deportation, arguing that their asylum seeker claim has been rejected. The family has been in limbo for years, and the Government is showing no signs of changing its mind.
This case highlighted the belligerence of the Australian Government when they vowed twenty years ago that any person trying to seek asylum in Australia by boat would never be settled in Australia. It has been an inhumane stance, and they are still unable to show any compassion and allow this family to stay.
In 2001, when the then Prime Minister, John Howard, said, "...we have the right to decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come", it set this country on a path of inhumane treatment for asylum seekers that continues to this day. A policy that this country should be ashamed of.