Doctors refuse to return children to offshore detention

DOCTORS who have refused to discharge asylum seeker children to stop them being taken back to detention centres have received the support of Australian Medical Association.

The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne has demanded the Federal Government cease locking children in detention centres.

The Herald Sun reported the push had received the support of Victoria's Health Minister Jill Hennessy and the Royal Australian College of Physicians, along with the AMA.

The matter reportedly escalated this year when doctors refused to discharge a child suffering with numerous health problems for more than a month, as they believed returning to the detention centre would damage the child's health.

AMA president Brian Owler said detention centres were not suitable environments for the health of all detainees, but the effects on children were far worse.

The doctors speaking out could face heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for speaking out about health standards in detention centres under the Border Force Act.

The AMA will call for a review of the act and contact the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister to reiterate the organisation's calls for the release of children from detention.

The AMA also wants an independent panel of medical experts to oversee the health care of detained asylum seekers.

The Herald Sun reported immigration guards placed at the entrance to some patients' rooms 24 hours a day.

Professor Owler said Melbourne doctors were holding true to the ethics and principles of the medical profession in raising these concerns about the health of the detained children.

"Some of the children being treated by the Melbourne doctors have spent half their lives in detention, which is inhumane and totally unacceptable," he said.

"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.

"The high-quality care and recovery they are receiving at the Royal Children's Hospital and other hospitals around Australia will be diminished once the children are returned to the detention centres.

"These poor people, whatever their circumstances, are in our care. We must stop this vicious cycle of harm."


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