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‘Get kids out of detention’

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The Australian Medical Association has released its revised Position Statement on the Health Care of Asylum Seekers.

The statement reaffirmed a long-held believe that all asylum seeker children should be moved out of immigration detention.

AMA President Professor Brian Owler said they acknowledge the Government has significantly reduced the numbers of children in detention but more can be done.

Related: MJA – Let the children go — advocacy for children in detention by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians

“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.

“Many of these conditions will stay with them throughout their lives,” Professor Owler said.

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.

Related: Nauru detention unsafe for children: Senate inquiry

The position statement also confirmed the AMA position that those who are seeking or have been granted asylum should have the right to appropriate medical care.

“Refugees and asylum seekers living in the community should have access to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, state welfare and employment support, and appropriate settlement services,” Professor Owler said.

Other recommendations include:

  • There should be a maximum time that an asylum seeker can spend in detention
  • Those in detention should have access to appropriate specialist services
  • Anyone who has been in detention should be able to access their medical records after their release or deportation
  • Doctors treating asylum seekers who are transferred should be able to provide appropriate handover of relevant documents.
  • Doctors shouldn’t be obliged to artificially feed a hunger striker

Visit the AMA’s site to read their position statement.

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