Doctors to explore health issues in Refugee Week 2017

refugees welcomeThe Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) will be highlighting the specific health issues faced by refugees and asylum-seeker children as part of Refugee Week 2017.

“Refugee Week is an opportunity for us to understand the health challenges refugees and asylumseekers face when coming to Australia,” explained RACP President, Dr Catherine Yelland.

“As doctors we see first-hand why refugees and asylum-seeker children must receive appropriate access to health care, given the significant trauma many of these people have experienced before they arrived in Australia and while detained in immigration centres.

“Our paediatricians and physicians who treat these families are always inspired by their courage, resilience and determination to overcome challenges.”

The RACP will be running a social media campaign featuring personal accounts from five paediatricians working with refugees in Australia. These case studies highlight the resilience, strength and determination of refugees as well as the fantastic work of RACP members and other health professionals.

RACP President, Dr Catherine Yelland said the recent Manus Island class action supported the position of the RACP that holding refugees and asylum seekers in detention was extremely harmful to health. “For years we’ve known that these facilities represent a significant breach of human rights and have an incredibly harmful effect on the physical and mental health of detainees,” Dr Yelland said.

“People held in detention face profound uncertainty, hopelessness and fear for their future while they wait for their claims to be processed. “Our position is that mandatory detention must be stopped and refugees should have communitybased placements while their claims are assessed.”

The RACP’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement sets out a strong evidencebased opposition to immigration detention, particularly of children. It has been endorsed by 14 medical colleges and peak health organisations across Australasia. Case studies are available that describe some of the issues doctors have experienced in treating asylum-seeker children.
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