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Experts, Greens call on Gov. to care for refugees

The Australian Greens say the Government must heed the warnings of the Australian Medical Association and support a bill put forward by Greens’ Senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Richard Di Natale that would establish an independent health oversight panel for refugees.

 “If the Government is planning to continue its inhumane and ineffectual offshore processing regime, they must listen to the experts and support a Greens’ bill to establish an independent Expert Health Care Panel for refugees,” Greens’ immigration spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

 “Our bill, which would create the type of independent panel the AMA is calling for, has been sent to an inquiry which will report back to the Senate in early February.

 “The AMA understands the importance of satisfactory healthcare for refugees and the Government should heed their calls for urgent action.

 “The panel will be independent of Government, empowered to make genuine change and mandated to report directly to Parliament every six months on the health and mental health of men, women and children detained offshore.

 “We know that indefinite detention is disastrous to refugees’ mental health and wellbeing so from the very beginning there should have been a safety net of expert, independent health care for these most unfortunate and vulnerable people.

 “Recent reports of suicide attempts from within the Nauru detention centre, as well as peaceful protests by detainees, show just how important this lifesaving reform is.”

 Greens health spokesperson, Dr Richard Di Natale, welcomed the AMA’s continued support for the establishment of an independent health panel and called upon the Government to listen to the experts and support our bill.

 “As the AMA has highlighted, long-term detention of vulnerable people will lead to an epidemic of mental health disease resulting in suicides, self-harm, long term depression and anxiety related disorders,” Dr Richard Di Natale said.

 “This legislation is necessary to help improve the old party’s cruel and ineffective approach to refugees.”

 Media contacts:               

Senator Hanson-Young                   Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 604 760

Senator Di Natale                              Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600

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