Doctors for refugees calls for detention closures
Unwell asylum seekers on Nauru will be sent to Papua New Guinea for medical treatment, not Australia, to the ire of a medical refugee advocate.
A medical advocate for refugees is says a decision to transfer unwell asylum seekers on Nauru to Papua New Guinea rather than Australia for back up specialist treatment is an appalling and unethical move.
A Brisbane general practitioner and Doctors for Refugees spokesman, Dr Richard Kidd is calling for Australia's off-shore detention centres to be shut down.
He told Jenny Meyer Australia needs to take much better care of refugees and the centres are worse than Guantanamo Bay in their care of people who are already traumatised.
RICHARD KIDD: I'm appalled, but not surprised and we have already seen at least one tragic outcome from an unnecessary delay through sending someone to Port Moresby hospital rather than straight to Australia, that was in the death of Hamid Kehazaei last year. I think sending people to Port Moresby who are the responsibility of Australia is very poor and appalling.
JENNY MEYER: What do you think is behind the move to do this? There are some comments in the media that people are concerned that medical transfers, people are using them as a window of opportunity to apply to legally stay in Australia. What are your thoughts about that? About that opportunity being lost as an option?
RK: People who are transferred for medical reasons, whether it's to Port Moresby or to Australia, it's because they've got a recognised medical need. I think at another level it's unethical of Australia to be sending people to a hospital in Papua New Guinea where health resources are very, very stretched, it's a very poor country and it's wrong of us to be tying up their resources with our patients. I think it's almost immoral for the department to be directing people away from where they should be getting proper medical care just so they don't have some sort of opportunity to commence a legal process. First and foremost their health needs have to be dealt with, we have an obligation to look after their health needs.
JM: And what sort of health needs are they by and large? I guess there must be a number of people transferred, for example, for reasons around child birth or perhaps psychiatric illnesses. I understand some people have been suicidal or made attempts on their own lives as well as physical conditions arising from neglect or abuse actually in detention.
RK: We know from past experience nine out of ten of the asylum seekers are going to be found to be genuine refugees and we know that the majority of them are survivors of torture and trauma and we know that they, in many cases, suffered all sorts of physical deprivation in their long journey and they've often contracted various diseases either in their country of origin or in countries that they've traveled through. Their medical needs are wide-ranging and often need quite high level medical investigations to sort them out. There are a lot of these people who are suffering dreadfully psychiatrically and there's no doubt that the detention process itself is doing considerable harm, particularly to children, we've got a lot of evidence that children being in detention is causing harm to them. We've got children (aged) 10 and younger now who are making very significant suicide attempts. This isn't any kind of manipulation or attention seeking, these are deeply traumatised, extremely unwell children.
Dr Kidd says community detention in Australia would be a lot less expensive, more transparent and efficient with much faster integration of refugees and their families.
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