Turnbull government pressed to boost attention afforded to asylum seekers

The decommissioned Manus Island detention centre has induced health concerns for the hundreds of affected asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers
Australian medical experts are urging the government to address asylum seekers' health issues. Photo: LightField Studios, Bigstock.

The recent emission of asylum seekers from the Manus Island detention centre has invoked loud calls to help the traumatized people. Australian medical experts are urging the government to act during the distressing transition of the pending refugees to new facilities.

Asylum seekers and refugees represent some of the most vulnerable people in society, with traumatic life events placing them in desperate circumstances. It is imperative that the marginalised population receives treatment and care throughout the long-winded process of entering Australia, to safeguard their physical and mental health.

Closure of Manus Island detention centre

A chaotic and emotion-fueled standoff at the Manus Island detention centre drew to a close in November. The Papa New Guinea Supreme Court deemed the centre unconstitutional last year, as it was found to breach human’s right to personal liberty.

Consequently, asylum seekers were left with limited options, with Australia refusing to budge on its border protection policies. Choices stood at resettling in Papa New Guinea or returning to their country of origin, in which they frantically tried to leave behind.

Australian medical experts call for action

Recent footage has revealed shocking circumstances for the asylum seekers, as they face threats and intimidation by locals in the replacement transit centres.

In response, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians have collaborated to form a letter of concern to the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton.

The medical bodies have voiced their collective apprehensions regarding the health and wellbeing of the asylum seekers, as well as the impacts the movement is having on the Manusian community. Worries have been raised about the additional toll placed on the people’s mental health, initiated by the stressful transfer between the detention centres.

The presidents of these major health organisations act as the voice of over 60,000 doctors. The medical professionals are demanding a greater emphasis on health care for the individuals, as well as an overall improvement in the government’s transparency about the conditions of the asylum seekers.

The medical experts are pushing the government to put politics aside and recognize the need to address the health and safety of those in need. President of RACP, Catherine Yelland, expressed the moral obligation of Australia to act on the situation, to fulfil the fundamental human right of access to health care.

While Dutton has so far remained sturdy on his stringent stance, the ongoing efforts by medical experts aim to lobby the government into action. Doctors continue to voice their concerns over the unacceptable conditions currently facing asylum seekers and the necessary help that is to be provided.