Media release

Greens' asylum seeker health panel policy must be supported by major parties

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, today called on the major parties to support the Australian Greens’ policy to establish an independent health panel to monitor the health of asylum seekers in detention.

The AMA has been calling for such an independent Expert Health Care Panel for two years.

The Greens today released a policy to address the health needs of asylum seekers sent to detention in Nauru and PNG.

Dr Hambleton said that the Greens’ policy is very welcome and goes a long way towards addressing AMA concerns about the health of asylum seekers detained offshore.

“Asylum seekers usually have multiple health conditions that require complex treatments,” Dr Hambleton said.

“People held offshore inherently have poorer access to specialist health and medical care than those held onshore.

“But all asylum seekers in detention are vulnerable to serious and chronic conditions that require constant medical care and supervision.

“There are still thousands of people in onshore immigration detention with serious health and mental health issues.

“The prospect of long-term detention – both onshore and offshore – poses a great risk to the mental health of detainees, often resulting in self-harm or attempted suicide.

“The stress and trauma of indefinite detention has life-long effects on children.

“We would like to see the Greens extend their policy to include the monitoring of the health care of asylum seekers in onshore detention facilities

“And we urge the major parties to support this initiative.  It is the right thing to do.”

 6 August 2013

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                             Kirsty Waterford                   02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753


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