Doctors at the hospital have refused to discharge her until a suitable home is identified, citing fears she would be sent back to Nauru. Uncertainty surrounded the child's fate on Sunday amid reports that a deal involving community detention in Brisbane had been struck on Saturday night.
Doctors at the hospital have refused to discharge her until a suitable home is identified, citing fears she would be sent back to Nauru. Uncertainty surrounded the child's fate on Sunday amid reports that a deal involving community detention in Brisbane had been struck on Saturday night. AAP Image - Jamie McKinnell

Peter Dutton to let baby Asha stay - for now

UPDATE: TINY asylum seeker baby Asha will be released into community detention.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton caved to public pressure on Sunday afternoon, saying the 12-month-old Lady Cilento Children's Hospital burns patient could stay in Australia - for now.

The concession followed a week of Australia-wide protests calling for Asha, and 35 other infants born in Australia to detained parents, to be kept out of offshore processing facilities.

Lady Cilento doctors refused to release Asha from hospital unless they were assured the infant would have a safe home in Australia.

Mr Dutton a short time ago said the family would be moved "sooner rather than later".
Speaking to reporters in Brisbane, Mr Dutton said he could not rule out sending them back to Nauru in the future.

QLD Government Statement regarding Baby Asha

The decision by the Federal Government to place Baby Asha and her mother in community detention was too slow and lacked empathy.

The fact it took a hospitalised baby girl, hundreds of people from across our community taking a principled stand in front of the hospital and expressions of disappointment from thousands more to finally move Immigration Minister

Peter Dutton speaks volumes about his lack of character and compassion.

A fortnight ago, I wrote to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the plight of up to 50 asylum seekers currently in Queensland that faced a return to Nauru following the determination of the High Court.

On behalf of the people of Queensland, I offered our support; with the provision of housing, health, education and welfare services as the Federal Government clarified the position of the asylum seekers.

While I welcome the belated comments about Baby Asha and her mother, I repeat that request for all asylum seekers still in limbo due to the failure of the Federal Government to respond to the High Court decision.

These people - they are people, Mr Dutton - deserved the compassion typified by the doctors and nurses working in the hospital and the hundreds of people standing outside it for the last two weeks.

Tony Abbott made the compassionate decision to permanently resettle 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq.

My Government has offered to resettle 3500 Syrian refugees in Queensland and we are working toward being part of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa program for the resettlement of refugees granted settlement in Australia.

UPDATE: ASYLUM seeker baby Asha will be released into community detention.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made the announcement a short time ago.

Protestors have gathered at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Hospital where 12-month-old Asha has been recovering from burns sustained from an accident involving boiling water.

She is well enough to be released from hospital, but Lady Cilento medical staff refused to release her without assurance she would not be returned to immigration detention on Nauru. 

EARLIER: SHE'S not old enough to speak a word, but little Asha has got most of Australia talking.

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to make sure the tiny asylum seeker is not returned to off-shore detention.

Politicians, medical experts, refugee advocates and community members are urging the PM to take a stance in the fight to keep 12-month-old Asha - and 35 other babies born in detention - from returning to the Naura asylum processing centre.

Asha, her mum Abhaya and dad Vijay are holed up in the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where the youngster has been recovering from burns sustained in a boiling water accident while detained on the South Pacific island about a month ago.

The battle to keep Asha in Australia has been going for well over a week, but neither Mr Turnbull or Immigration Minister Peter Dutton are talking about the situation because it's an immigration detainee "operational matter".

Federal Government-employed SERCO security guards are refusing to let advocate Natasha Blucher, from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network, visit the family.

And there have been multiple reports over the weekend that lawyers have also been banned from visiting the child and her parents.

More than 50 people are rallying outside the children's hospital in South Brisbane, vowing to  block any vehicle leaving the compound that might have the child and her family on board.

The Immigration Department says its officials are negotiating with the hospital's doctors, who are refusing to discharge the baby into their custody unless suitable housing is found for her.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Mr Turnbull needed to heed the community's anger.

"We have the mother and the father of a small baby not being able to speak to their lawyers, let alone answer the phone," Ms  Hanson-Young said.

"A one-year-old baby born here in Australia, he (Malcolm Turnbull) should simply give up the game and let her stay."

Australian medical Association president Professor Brian Owler said the government was close to "crossing" a line in its treatment of the infant.

"Security guards entering a hospital to forcibly remove a patient would be unprecedented in this country," Prof Owler said a short time ago.

"It is a line that cannot be crossed.

"If crossed, there is no return."

Opposition immigration and border protection spokesman Richard Marles said Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton must treat the situation carefully.

"The government needs to handle this matter with sensitivity and on the basis that Australia has an obligation in respect of the safety of all refugees and asylum seekers in its direct and indirect care, both in Australia and offshore," Mr Marles said.

"The Government must give an assurance to the Australian community that it is caring for baby Asha in this way."

A Lady Cilento spokesman said it was not aware of plans to move the baby.

Ms Blucher has not seen the child since Tuesday morning when security guards refused to let her into the ward.

She said she has been speaking to Asha's mum Abhaya on the phone and was told the family had been warned it would be taken away from the hospital by "plain-clothed" guards.

"She told me she didn't know where she would be going because they wouldn't tell her," Ms Blucher told the ABC. Ms Blucher told the ABC.

Ms Blucher, Prof Owler, GetUp campaigner Ellen Roberts  and Ros McLellan, from the Queensland Council of Unions, will hold a press conference at 4pm today to discuss the stand-off.

EARLIER: IT appears asylum seeker baby Asha may be released into community detention as early as today.

Hundreds of protestors have gathered at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Hospital where 12-month-old Asha and her parents have been for the past week.

The infant is recovering from burns sustained from an accident involving boiling water.

She is well enough to be released from hospital, but Lady Cilento medical staff will not let her return to immigration detention on Nauru.

Federal Government-hired security guards are refusing to allow anyone to see her, including her long-time refugee advocate.

Sources close to the family are hoping rumours Asha and her parents will be released into community detention today will prove true.

The AMA a short time ago blasted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for not intervening in the case that has sparked outrage across the country.

"Security guards entering a hospital to forcibly remove a patient would be unprecedented in this country," president Brian Owler said.

"It a line that cannot be crossed. If crossed, there is no return.

"Although there was reassurance nothing would happen last night, it seems that the reprieve may be temporary." -APN NEWSDESK


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