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Refugees’ health; we should care

A Senate inquiry report has been released today in which the Greens recommend an independent panel be urgently created to oversee the physical and mental health of refugees in detention offshore.

“It was made clear during this inquiry that the Australian Government has been failing in its duty of care to the people we have locked up in detention centres offshore,” the Greens immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The bill I introduced with Senator Richard Di Natale to establish an independent healthcare panel should be passed by this Parliament as a first priority in 2013.

“Very vulnerable people, including children and families, are being sent to these inhumane conditions and the Government must do more to ensure appropriate care for their mental and physical health is provided.

“The inquiry heard a chorus of support for an independent panel from peak health and mental health bodies and human rights experts, and I urge the Government to look seriously at supporting the Bill and the Greens’ recommendations.

“The Greens welcome the experts’ backing for the establishment of a health care panel that has robust powers to oversee refugees’ health, make public recommendations and ensure that the expert advice is acted upon by Government and offshore service providers.

“We also recommended that the Panel should include a representative of disability specialists, should have mandate to access the offshore camps when it needs to and should be located and well-resourced as part of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

“We need positive policies like this to improve the level of debate that has suffered so drastically as the old parties compete with each other in a desperate race to the bottom.”

Media Contact: Noah Schultz-Byard 0427 604 760

                                Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600

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