Medical professionals gather to support Melbourne Hospital
Australian Medical professionals gather to support a call by staff at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne to end the mandatory detention of children.
The Australian Medical Association says current detention policies for camps like those on Manus Island and Nauru contradict the ethical obligations doctors have towards patients.
This comes after hundreds of doctors at an Australian hospital last week called on the government to release all children in detention centres.
Indira Moala has more.
An Australian paediatrician who works in refugee health says the children he saw on Nauru had been in detention for around 14 months on average.
Professor David Isaacs says long term detention is worsening the health and well-being of children.
I witnessed a child six years of age who tried to hang herself with a fence tie and very nearly succeeded. A six-year-old. I would expect their health to get worse when they go back in to detention. The longer they're there, the bigger the chance that they're going to have severe mental health problems. So yes, that is what we're doing to these children by sending them back and not processing them quickly.
Around 1000 medical staff from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne are calling on the government to end the mandatory detention of children.
Last week, more than 400 RCH doctors said they would refuse to discharge asylum seeker children back into detention.
A statement of their concerns posted on their Facebook page was shared over 7,000 times by supporters and reached around 1.2 million views within 48 hours.
RCH staff say they know detention harms children.
Many of the children in detention we see at the RCH have been there for a long time - 18 months to two years, sometimes longer. Over time, we see parents and children fall apart under this strain. Children have nightmares, bed-wetting, and behaviour problems. They develop depression and anxiety symptoms, and their development is affected. These issues are so common they've become normal in detention. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to treat these children while they are still detained.
The Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, Stephen Parnis, says they are backing the call made by RCH staff whose concerns reflect those of a large number of medical professionals around the country.
We will push this case because we think it's untenable to remain this way. It is a fundamental aspect of medical assessment that you try not to send people back to circumstances that cause harm. Our colleagues, and with the support of many from around Australia, are saying 'enough's enough'.
Mr Parnis says both the Medical Association and the hospital's staff want to see an alternative solution in federal policy, that is in patients' interest.
The Law Council of Australia says the doctors' views on children in detention are disturbing and all of them should be released without delay.
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