Public concerns were expressed today, that the human side of the Nauru refugee debate has been overwhelmed by party politics.

A representative from the UN’s High Commission for Refugees presented alternate solutions.

Melissa Yeo reports.


A public meeting sponsored by Anglicare voiced the growing discontent with offshore processing.

Rodney MacDonald, Anglicare SEQ: “I think everybody will agree that the solution we have at the moment is not good and that it is in fact distastrous.”

Regional UNHCR representative Richard Towle recognised Australia’s efforts in refugee management, but said it was important not to forget it remains a fundamentally humanitarian issue.

Richard Towle, UNHCR representative: “In the United Nations what we want to be very clear on is that if anybody is transferred from Australia to another convention state such as Nauru or Papua New Guinea that they are able to get the full range of protection safeguards thay they would receive in Australia.”

In the longer term, he hopes that Australia will continue to support refugees through aid and other means.

Richard Towle, UNHCR representative:” We think a more balanced approach looking at the global perspective looking at the protection needs of refugees in the region, looking in the medium term investing in better protection systems in South East Asia is the way to go.”

Anglicare says in the long term, the community can’t leave it to Government, both parties needs to work together to build lasting solutions.

Melissa Yeo, QUT News.