Debate continues as 11 children transferred from Nauru to receive medical care

Amanda Lyons

23/10/2018 2:19:02 PM

As the health of young people detained on Nauru deteriorates, Labor and the Greens have softened their opposition to the Coalition’s conditions for transfer of refugees and asylum seekers to NZ.

It has been reported that many children on Nauru are suicidal, with some experiencing resignation syndrome.
It has been reported that many children on Nauru are suicidal, with some experiencing resignation syndrome.

The Australian Border Force has announced 11 children were yesterday transferred from Nauru to Australia to receive medical treatment, which leaves 52 minors remaining behind.
Doctors have reported a significant decline in the mental and physical health of refugees and asylum seekers held on Nauru over recent months, as the period of their detention approaches the five-year mark.
Dr Kate Walker, GP and Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Refugee Health network, believes transfer has become an urgently required healthcare option for asylum seeker and refugee children on the island.
‘These children’s medical and psychiatric conditions are now too severe to be managed on Nauru,’ she told newsGP earlier this year.
‘As doctors, we believe there is a duty of care towards these children held on Nauru under Australian jurisdiction.’ 
New Zealand made an offer in 2013 to resettle 150 refugees a year from Australia’s offshore detention centres. But the Australian Government has steadfastly refused to take up the deal, as it believes New Zealand settlement could provide refugees a so-called ‘back door’ option for re-entry into Australia.
‘The challenge with all of this … is to ensure that we don’t give the people smugglers incentive to get back into business,’ then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told The Guardian in 2015.
The Coalition Government indicated in its 2016 immigration bill that it would only accept the New Zealand offer if legislation is passed ensuring people sent there are never able to travel to Australia. This requirement would apply to all detainees who have arrived by boat since July 2013.
Labor and the Australian Greens have both opposed this bill, arguing the life-time travel restrictions are unnecessary and overly harsh. However, both parties have softened their stance in the face of the worsening health situation of detainees on Nauru.
Labor has stated it will now consider supporting the bill if the lifetime travel ban applies only to the refugee cohort transferred to New Zealand.
‘Scott Morrison cannot argue against these amendments as they close the “back door” from New Zealand to Australia – something he himself has called for,’ Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann said.
Meanwhile, Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC it is time ‘to put the politics aside’ for the sake of the health of the children in detention on Nauru.
‘If resettlement after that means resettlement in New Zealand with limited restrictions, just on that group, that’s something we will consider,’ he said.

children in detention Nauru children refugee and asylum seeker health

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