Fewer Than 40 Children Remain On Nauru After Quiet Transfers To Australia

Fewer than 40 children remain in detention on Nauru following the covert removal of asylum-seeker families to capital cities across Australia.

Refugee advocates remain optimistic the secret transfers will continue as pressure mounts on the federal government to free the mentally and physically ill children from detention.

Ian Rintoul, a Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson, says the number of children in detention on Nauru has dropped to 38.

About 80 asylum-seeker children have been flown from the small Pacific island since the Kids off Nauru campaign was launched in August.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the government had been "quietly" removing children from Nauru "in accordance with our policies".

"Policies that not only have reduced the number of children on Nauru, but has ensured that no children are going to Nauru," he told reporters on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Aussie Doctors' Desperate Plea For Children On Nauru

READ MORE: Eleven Children Transferred Off Nauru For Medical Reasons

Rintoul said almost every capital city was catering for refugees, with families placed in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Some families are already seeking legal action in a bid to avoid going back to Nauru once children undergo urgent medical treatment, Rintoul said.

He believed the transfers were taking place quietly because the government is "acutely embarrassed" about the situation and wanted to maintain its "political face".

"This government has got so few shreds of political credibility that it will hang onto whatever shreds it can," Rintoul told AAP.

Morrison has even faced rumblings from within the coalition to act on the Nauru issue, with three backbench MPs pleading for action this month.

Outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks even stood up in parliament last week, calling for the "political games" and "distractions" to end.

"This issue comes down to a simple truth - it is our humanitarian obligation to get these children and their families off Nauru," Banks said.

The Department of Home Affairs has refused to specify about how many asylum seekers had been brought to Australia, or where they were situated.

Health professionals have ramped up their pleas in recent weeks for the government to intervene, with the Australian Medical Association handing a letter signed by about 6000 doctors to Morrison.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor planned to keep pressure on the government, with the crossbench, to find the best solution.

"We think after five years there is no sound case for keeping kids there," Shorten told reporters on Wednesday.

"We think Australians accept that on one hand you want to have strong borders but that shouldn't come at the price of keeping people in indefinite detention."

Lead photo: AAP