The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has participated in a peaceful demonstration in
Sydney’s Hyde Park to highlight the harms caused by indefinite mandatory detention for people seeking asylum.
Dr Karen Zwi, a Senior Fellow of the RACP, said the Australian Government’s policy of mandatory detention needs to end immediately.
“Australia’s policy of indefinite mandatory detention is inhumane and continues to cause significant harm to the physical and mental health of detainees, particularly children,” Dr Zwi said.
“Australian and international policies increasingly subject displaced children to immigration detention.
“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests mandatory detention has a long-term mental health impact on children, compared with children who are given community placements.”
With 30 children currently being held in detention in Nauru, Dr Zwi said the Government should remove the provision of mandatory detention for children seeking asylum.
“The Government’s role is to safeguard and promote the ongoing health and wellbeing of all children. If we are to do this, then removing mandatory detention for children would be the most effective and powerful intervention.
“We need to see an immediate end to mandatory detention. All asylum seekers, including children, should be given safe and durable community placements until their claims are assessed.”
In December 2017, the RACP partnered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), calling for the Government to give doctors access to facilities at Manus Island and Nauru to conduct health assessments for detainees.
The RACP’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement sets out a strong evidence based opposition to immigration detention, particularly of children, and the need to ensure access to quality health care. It has been endorsed by 14 medical colleges and peak health organisations across Australasia.