AMA submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee - Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 [Provisions]

As the peak professional organisation representing medical practitioners in Australia, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 [Provisions]. 

The AMA supports a body of clinical experts, independent of government, with the power to investigate and advise on the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees. 

We maintain that health and medical services in immigration detention centres should only be provided by organisations, in facilities accredited to Australian standards, that have the full capacity to provide an appropriate range of health and medical care to all detainees as needed, and according to best practice standards in health care delivery (as would apply in the general community). 

Adherence to these standards should be guaranteed through a process of ongoing monitoring of detainees’ health by an independent statutory body of clinical experts with powers to acquire information and investigate conditions in centres as it determines. 

It is essential that the assessment and provision of medical care to asylum seekers in detention must be undertaken by medical practitioners. 

In the absence of any other alternative independent medical panel that is demonstrably superior, the AMA affirms its support for the IHAP, in assessing the needs of asylum seekers and refugees for transfers for medical and psychiatric assessment and treatment.  However, we also want to see IHAP properly resourced, including and remuneration for members, recognising the workload and commitment that it involves.

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