The one-year-old asylum seeker, known as Baby Asha, has been in community detention with her family over the past week after Australian doctors refused to discharge her following treatment for serious burns on fears she would be returned to the nation’s offshore processing center on Nauru.
However, Dutton approved the release into community detention, stressing that the family could still be returned to the center – widely criticized for its harsh conditions and reports of sexual abuse – on Nauru once medical assessments and legal issues were finalized.
Refugee advocates on Wednesday picketed Dutton’s electorate office in the north of Brisbane, shaking signs at traffic that read “let baby Asha stay” and “close the camps” in reference to Australia’s offshore processing facilities.
“(Peter Dutton’s) comments all the time that they’re going back to Nauru are just tormenting people,” Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Mark Gillespie told local media.
A spokesperson for Dutton declined to comment to enquiries.
The asylum and refugee policy remains a hot political issue which is due to intensify as the country heads to an election later in the year.
The government maintains those wishing to reach Australia will instead be controversially taken to one of two offshore processing centers on Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
The policy was adopted in mid-2013, aimed at stemming the flow of asylum seeker boat arrivals by people smugglers following a spate of tragic deaths at sea from Indonesia to Australia.
Authorities stress asylum seekers arriving by boat will not be resettled in Australia.