Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health

Why is Refugee and Asylum Seeker Heath a priority topic for the RACP?

Current Australian immigration policies mandate the detention of refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived by boat in Australia without a visa.

Held in detention facilities on and offshore, where access to quality healthcare is intermittent, the detention of asylum seekers has severe physical and mental health impacts.

Refugees and asylum seekers resettled in Australia and New Zealand face additional  barriers ​to specialist health care.

Our physicians and paediatricians believe these policies are fundamentally wrong, ​unethical and penalise already traumatised people, particularly children, many of whom are fleeing conflict or persecution.

What is the College doing?

Our Fellows and trainees have taken a strong leadership stance on this issue, and repeatedly voiced their public opposition to Immigration Detention. 

The RACP, RACGP and RANZCP have jointly written to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Health Ministers Greg Hunt, David Gillespie and Ken Wyatt, highlighting our concerns that asylum seekers on Manus Island are reportedly in poor health and unable to access the healthcare needed and calling for attention to a number of matters - you can read the letter here.

Our paediatricians have organised highly visible protests across Australia. Lead paediatric Fellows continue to speak out in the media to advocate on behalf of individual asylum seekers and refugees, in some cases running the risk of being prosecuted themselves for breaching the secrecy provision of Australia’s Border Force Act. We have made multiple representations on the issue to the Federal Government.

The College’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement sets out our strong evidence-based opposition to immigration detention, particularly of children. It has been endorsed by 14 medical colleges and peak health organisations across Australasia. 

Its four key areas of focus are:

  • access to healthcare;
  • health assessments and screening processes;
  • long-term health in the community; and
  • asylum seekers in detention.

Recent submissions, position statements and media

How can I contribute my expertise?

RACP Trainees and Physicians need to see Represent Your Profession or email or use the online contact form.

Where can I read more?

Read published RACP policies, position statements or submissions by searching the Policy and Advocacy Library or view the latest Policy Submissions

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