Two-year-old Wins Maltreatment Case Against Commonwealth

A two-year-old girl, only known only as DIZ18 to the public, was evacuated from The Nauru Regional Processing Centre for urgent medical care following months of court proceedings in 2018 which forced the Australian Commonwealth to provide her with the correct procedures and medical treatment she required at the time.

Five years later and the child’s legal team has fought hard for this two-year-old girls human rights violations to be heard in front of the High Court of Australia. Eventually the legal team, made up of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers with senior associate Bridie Murphey, were able to continue their fight with a legal claim for compensation against the Commonwealth for ‘aggravated and exemplary damages’.

The claim for compensation was “strenuously contested” by the Commonwealth, which denied it even owed a duty of care to the child, despite the Australian Human Rights Commission claiming that ‘Australia has obligations to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia, regardless of how or where they arrive and whether they arrive with or without a visa.’

The two-year-old girl, her family, and her legal team however, fought hard for generous compensation from the Commonwealth for the delayed treatment and need for urgent medical care to protect this child’s life earlier in 2018.

Bridie Murphey, senior associate at Maurice Blackburn Law, states that “access to justice is a cornerstone of our legal system.” And that the mistreatment of such a young girl deserves compensation. “This case has been running through the courts for most of our client’s life. We are pleased that a measure of justice has been obtained for her and her family,” Ms Murphy says when interviewed by Lawyers Weekly.

She also mentioned that even the existence of detention centres such as Nauru should be considered “national shame” and “That the Commonwealth had to be taken to court to ensure this child received medical care is astounding…This case, and those that remain before the court, are an important reminder of why no child should be held in immigration detention.” She also urges the Commonwealth that all refugees seeking asylum and safety in Australia should be treated with the fairness and human rights of any Australian citizen.

“Few other countries go to such lengths to deliberately inflict suffering on people seeking safety and freedom.” says Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International

“Australia’s atrocious treatment of the refugees on Nauru over the past three years has taken an enormous toll on their well-being,” said Michael Bochenek, Senior Counsel on Children’s Rights at Human Rights Watch, who specialises in the mistreatment of children like said two-year-old girl on refugee camps like Nauru.

However, after the long legal battle, the two-year-old girl and her family were able to receive a generous compensation from the Australian Commonwealth for their lack of urgent medical attention on said child’s life. Her family’s whereabouts are unknown regarding the question of if they remain of the island, but the child now remains with her family and with access to immediate medical attention if required.

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