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Close offshore detention centres - letter from Marlene to Guardian News 17 Dec 15

Dear Editor ,

Over recent months there has been a tide of public opinion calling for the closure of offshore detention centres. The appalling conditions and treatment regimes on Nauru and Manus Island make horrific headlines on a regular basis. 

Another aspect of concern is the financial cost of these facilities to the Australian taxpayer. The details of costs are not often publicised. Published figures for the past year point to  costs well of over $400, 000 per year to keep one person in an offshore detention facility. The corresponding cost of community detention onshore is less than $100,000 per year per person. 

To place one person on a bridging visa and allowing them to live in the community would cost much less - around $12,000 . So it is costing us more than 30 times more to keep a refugee on Manus Island or Nauru compared with allowing them to live in the community . It would cost even less if the refugees were allowed to work and many of them do have professional skills.  

The longer you keep someone in offshore detention and the more their physical and mental health deteriorates. This is particularly true of young children . Hence the  future costs of rehabilitation become immense.  

The present government needs to review current policies in the interests of the refugees themselves and also in the interests of the Australian taxpayer . 

Yours faithfully,


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