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Medical students renew call for transparency and assessment of health of refugees and asylum seekers

26 Jun 2018

AMSA Media release

25 June 2018 

Medical students renew call for transparency and assessment of health of refugees and asylum seekers

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), the peak representative body of Australia’s 17,000 medical students, welcomes the news over the weekend that a refugee from Nauru with a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer has been transferred to Australia for appropriate palliative care. The Australian Border Force (ABF) and Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) had previously refused the transfer. 

Ms Adele Evans, the Coordinator of AMSA Crossing Borders, AMSA’s advocacy group for refugee and asylum seeker health, said that the health care services on Nauru are not equipped to take care of this man.

“The end of a man’s life is not a time for politics. He has the right to treatment and pain relief in Australia,” Ms Evans said.

“ABF and DoHA have acknowledged this patient’s right to care in Australia, and we hope to see continue in the treatment of other refugees under Australia's care.

“This man's case is not unique. There are many other refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres who are receiving inadequate health care," Ms Evans said.

AMSA believes that asylum seekers’ health, especially their mental health, continues to deteriorate as they are indefinitely detained.

"Australia is failing to provide refugees and asylum seekers with access to appropriate health care,” Ms Evans said.

“DoHA has repeatedly claimed that refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres have access to health care 'broadly comparable' to what is available in Australia. 

"It is clear that this ‘Australian’ standard is not being met," Ms Evans said.

AMSA has consistently called on the Federal Government to be transparent about the standard of the healthcare services available at offshore detention centres.

AMSA continues its urgent call for the Government to allow an independent medical body access into offshore detention centres to conduct a review of the health and wellbeing of the detained refugees and asylum seekers. 

“The evidence is clear - detention harms health,” Ms Evans said.

Now is the time for all politicians and political parties to act in accordance with Australia’s obligations under international refugee and human rights law, and prioritise the health of refugees and asylum seekers.


Media Contact:

RJ Seastres

0423 648 688                                      

Published: 26 Jun 2018