October 30, 2015 | ABC News
Australia’s medical community is increasing pressure on the Federal Government to remove children from immigration detention, as more doctors come forward citing significant mental health concerns.
Paediatricians and other health workers are due to gather in Darwin, Adelaide and Sydney today to call on the Turnbull Government to remove all children and their families from immigration detention.
Paediatrician Joshua Francis told the ABC that it was clear that detention was harmful to children and to their families.
Dr Francis said he had treated children living in detention, who had presented with “significant psychological problems and very real impacts on their development”.
“We’re trying to deal with them on a situation here these children are living essentially in jail like environments in detention centres,” he said.
“It’s heartbreaking for me, not just as a paediatrician, but also as a father.”
Dr Francis said he would personally treat the issue on a case-by-case basis, but did not rule out refusing to discharge patients back into immigration detention.
Comment has been sought from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
The action follows that taken by Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital earlier this month, when almost 1,000 doctors, nurses and clinical support staff called on the Government to remove children from detention.
The hospital did not deny reports that they were refusing to discharge children in detention, saying it was a matter for “serious discussion” on a case-by-case basis.
The announcement coincides with a joint statement from maternal health groups, highlighting concerns for breastfeeding mothers in immigration detention.
Eight organisations, including the Australian Breastfeeding Organisation, said asylum seeker mothers needed appropriate support to continue breastfeeding including ensuring that mother and child are kept together if one needs medical treatment.