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The Royal Australasian College of Physicians position statement on refugee and asylum seeker health

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Refugee and asylum seeker health is important in the setting of increasing global forced migration, and the particular physical and mental health issues faced by these groups. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has identified refugee and asylum seeker health as a policy priority, recognising large refugee-background populations in Australia and New Zealand, increased asylum seeker boat arrivals to Australia during 2009–2013, the duration and impact of Australian immigration detention, and complex and changing Australian asylum policy. Key demographics of refugees and asylum seekers are shown in Box 1.

The previous RACP policy (2007) focused on refugee children, whereas the 2015 position statement extends the RACP position across the lifespan and includes both refugees and asylum seekers. The position statement has been developed with extensive consultation across health disciplines (Box 2), with the intention of changing the discourse on refugees and asylum seekers, providing an evidence-based summary of relevant health issues, and highlighting the health impact of refugee and asylum policy. The position statement and accompanying policy summary of evidence are available at https://members.racp.edu.au/page/asylum-seekers.

Main recommendations

The position statement…