‘Listen to the medical experts’ – RACP releases Open Letter signed by 9 peak medical organisations to Minister Karen Andrews calling for urgent release of Biloela family

 June 13, 2021

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, representing over 25,000 physicians and trainee physicians across Australia and New Zealand, has written an Open Letter signed by 9 medical groups calling on the Australian Government to release the Biloela family from detention.

The signatories include the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID), College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand (CCICM), Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM).

The letter can be downloaded from the RACP website.

RACP Acting President and Paediatrician, Dr Jacqueline Small says “As health experts we are calling on the Australian Government to urgently release the Biloela family from detention -Tharnicaa, Kopika, Priya and Nades Murugappan.

“We know that Australia’s detention program is harmful to the physical and mental health of those held, especially children. 

“We are extremely concerned that this family has been held in indefinite detention for more than 1000 days; on Christmas Island since August 2019 and in mainland Australia prior to that from March 2018. This is most of Tharnicaa’s life. 

“Being held in detention presents an extreme and unacceptable risk to children’s health, development and mental health. These risks are particularly high for infants and toddlers in held detention. If detention is prolonged, the consequences may be long term or permanent.

“We’re calling on the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, to listen to the medical experts and immediately release this family from detention as a renewed sign of compassionate and humane Australian leadership.

“What this family has had to experience is very distressing. No family should have to go through this. 

“We want the Australian Government to listen to what medical experts have been saying for years now, that Australia must also release all asylum seekers from detention facilities and provide them with support they will need for this transition.” Dr Small said. 

The RACP’s position statement on Refugees and Asylum Seeker Health, supported by 14 peak medical organisations, can be found on the RACP website.

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