RACP backs the Kids Off Nauru campaign

child refugee
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has signed on to the Kids Off Nauru campaign, urging the Australian Parliament to act on their duty of care and immediately transfer all refugee and asylum seeker children and their families from Nauru to Australia.

Doctors says that children and their families need an urgent assessment in a specialist tertiary level child health facility, where their medical, developmental and social-emotional (psychiatric) health can be assessed and treated in accordance with specialist recommendations. No child should be separated from their family and carers, who also require specialist medical attention.

“This is a medical emergency,” said Professor Paul Colditz, a paediatrician and President of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division within the RACP. “As doctors we have compelling evidence that detention and uncertainty is damaging to people’s health and wellbeing and that this damage can be severe and lifelong.

“This is especially the case for children, who are very vulnerable to their parents’ mental health and negative, unsafe environments.

“There is an immediate risk of severe health consequences and we have already seen over a dozen children evacuated to Australia with extreme ill health. This includes inadequately treated medical conditions, trauma related symptoms such as severe withdrawal and refusing to eat or drink and self-harm.

“To see such symptoms in children is an indication of the untenable conditions in which they are living. The RACP calls on the government to address this health crisis and bring the remaining children and their families to appropriate healthcare and safety as a matter of urgency.”

The medical college joins 180 other organisations and individuals who call on the Australian Government to release refugee and asylum seeker children and their families from Nauru by Universal Children's Day (20 November). Offshore processing detention of children and families seeking asylum contravenes Australia’s responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular, the right to health.

 The Convention holds that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration and that children have rights to health, education, play and participation in decisions affecting their lives, as well as rights to protection from physical and mental violence, injury, abuse, neglect and maltreatment.

 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. The Position Statement has been endorsed by 14 medical and nursing colleges and peak health organisations across Australasia.

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