What are your views as a Nurse on asylum seeker children being kept in detention? Have you heard that the AMA has released today an update re the Health Care of Asylum Seekers. Did you know according to the released AMA statement that Legislation, ‘such as the Australian Border Force (ABF) Act, should not impact on a doctor’s ability to treat a patient or speak out about unjust maltreatment. ‘The biggest concern of the ABF Act, ‘with the secrecy provisions, is the possibility of doctors and whistle-blowers possibly facing two years in jail for leaking information in regards to offshore detention facilities’. ‘According to the latest Immigration Detention and Community Statistics Summary, as at 30 November 2015, there were 104 children held in immigration detention facilities within the Australian mainland, 70 children held in detention in Nauru, and 331 children in community detention.’
The AMA president has identified that the AMA has the strong stance that asylum seeker children be moved out of immigration detention to healthier and more humane environments within the community!
The AMA position statement which can be accessed here>> identifies in part the following!
- “Detention has severe adverse effects on the health of all asylum seekers, but the harms in children are more serious.
- Some of the children have spent half their lives in detention, which is inhumane and totally unacceptable.
- These children are suffering extreme physical and mental health issues, including severe anxiety and depression.
- Doctors have an ethical and moral obligation to act in the best interests of their patients and speak out about concerns in regards to the welfare of their patients, whether it be the treatment of an individual or whether it be at a system level.
- Legislation, such as the Australian Border Force (ABF) Act, should not impact on a doctor’s ability to treat a patient or speak out about unjust maltreatment. The biggest concern of the ABF Act, with the secrecy provisions, is the possibility of doctors and whistle-blowers possibly facing two years in jail for leaking information in regards to offshore detention facilities.
- Those in detention should have access to appropriate specialist services including sexual and reproductive health, obstetric and gynaecological services, antenatal and postnatal care, paediatric services, mental health, rehabilitation, allied health services, and dental services
- Asylum seekers should not be transferred from one detention facility to another without notice. This can exacerbate their physical and psychological conditions, and denies them continuity of care.
- Doctors treating asylum seekers who are transferred should be able to provide appropriate handover of relevant documents.
- Asylum seekers with disabilities are at a particular risk and should receive the same equitable access to appropriate support and health services.
- Pregnant women held in detention facilities are at a particularly high risk of deteriorating mental and physical health, and should receive adequate support services with appropriate pre- and post-natal care.
- Pregnant women should have access to appropriate obstetric and neonatal services for the safety of delivery.
- Unaccompanied children should never be placed in detention facilities.
- Children and their families should be accommodated in separate, safe, and appropriate living areas. Families should be prioritised for processing, as separation of family members can exacerbate physical and mental conditions.’
Nurses we all know the impact of social and environmental settings on children. Regardless of where you work this position statement is worth reading and I look forward to reading your views!
The AMA Position Statement on the Health Care of Asylum Seekers and Refugees is at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/health-care-asylum-seekers-and-refugees-2011-revised-2015