21 Jul 2015

Former worker in Nauru gives damning evidence to inquiry

1:07 pm on 21 July 2015

A former case worker for Save the Children deported from Nauru last year says she still doesn't know why she was deported.

Protesting refugees at the asylum seeker processing centre on Nauru.

Protesting refugees at the asylum seeker processing centre on Nauru. Photo: Supplied

Natasha Blucher was among a group of workers at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre, deported in October amid now-debunked claims they had encouraged self-harm and protest.

Jamie Tahana reports.

Ms Blucher told a Senate inquiry that detainees were routinely identified by numbers, not names, and that guards would often talk about child abuse in what she called a 'disturbingly casual manner'.

Ms Blucher says five days before she was ordered off the island, there were a number of protests and a marked increase in self-harm at the centre.

She says that in October, she was told by a human resources manager that she had been stood down and was put under guard in the accommodation block before she was deported a day later.

The workers were ordered off the island after then-immigration minister Scott Morrison said an intelligence report had found they had coaxed protests and self-harm.

An independent review later found no evidence of the allegations.

Ms Blucher says when she was distraught at the suggestion, as she and her colleagues had tried desperately to talk people out of self-harm.

She told the inquiry she still has no idea why the workers were deported, and wants an apology and explanation.