mental health

He is only ten years old

Dear Prime Minister,

I cannot believe I live in a country where a letter like this is necessary. Your Minister of Home Affairs tried to block life-saving tertiary psychiatric care for a ten-year-old child who has been suicidal since 2013. This is the second court case Minister Dutton's department has lost recently over the acute medical care urgently needed for children detained on Nauru.

The judge ruled that Australia “held a duty of care” to the boy and his family as the entity that had placed them on the island and which ran the offshore processing centre and the regime that held them.
— Ben Doherty, The Guardian Australia

This comes after Dr Nick Martin's damning revelations of how medical care for refugees is routinely blocked.

Every clinical decision that you made was being questioned by a non-medic. I had never had that in the forces. Your expertise and your autonomy was respected in the Royal Navy but in [Australia’s] border force you did absolutely feel there was a political influence on the clinical cases.
— Dr Nick Martin

I have previously written a number of letters to you about the dangerously inadequate healthcare for refugees on both Nauru and Manus Island. What action will you take to ensure all outstanding medical treatments are delivered immediately to the refugees?

Refugees denied medical care on Manus

Dear Prime Minister,

Thirteen refugees who have been waiting in Port Moresby for months to receive medical treatment were dragged out of their motel at 3.30am on 23 February by PNG police and forced onto a plane back to Manus Island. Refugees on Manus have reported that there is no room for the returnees in West Haus but they have been left there even though there is nowhere for them to sleep. This is the second group of unwell refugees that have been returned to Manus without receiving medical treatment. The small hospital on Manus cannot provide anything but most basic health care and is often without drugs and basic equipment. This has been verified repeatedly by the refugees, by hospital staff, and by humanitarian agencies and other visitors. The Department of Home Affairs maintains the lie that health care is provided. Most urgently, refugees who need urgent psychiatric care are left untreated. At least two men have attempted suicide in the last week. It is only due to the constant attention and intervention by their fellow refugees that they are still alive.

End offshore detention #442

Dear Prime Minister,

After stopping access to cigarettes, coffee, tea and sugar Australian immigration has ordered IHMS on Manus to give the refugees one month's supply of their medications.

What risk is there to a person suffering from mental illness who is given a month's worth of pills?

Australia's responsibility

Dear Prime Minister,

Australia is responsible for what happens to the refugees on Manus Island. Why was Hamed Shamshiripour beaten up by guards at Manus RPC when he needed support for his severe mental health problems? Why was he left to die even after his friends gave warnings about his mental condition and made formal complaints to Broadsprectrum at Manus RPC about his beating? Who in DIBP failed to act? Why is the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection not taking responsibility for what happens on Manus Island?

Bring all refugees in offshore detention to Australia now. End Australia's shame.

We have nothing to live for

Dear Prime Minister,

Australia's torture of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru takes many forms. Behrouz Boochani, other detainees, advocates and agencies continue to report on the torture applied by withholding healthcare. Apart from instances such as detainees having to remove their own teeth due to no dental care, there is the particular cruelty of using health issues to separate families and then keeping them separated to inflict more suffering.

Today's Guardian (20.6.2017) reports on a father and son stranded on Nauru while the mother and daughter have been in Brisbane for three years for medical treatment. All four have been formally recognised as refugees. The son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is under watch in case of harming himself or others. Psychiatrists who have seen him on Nauru recommend that he be transferred to Australia for treatment  and to be reunited with his mother. However the government's policy (that is, your government, Prime Minister) is that it will

"only approve medical transfers if refugees are likely to face permanent disability or death."

The details of the family's situation described in the article, compounded by their indefinite separation, are horrific. It is completely unacceptable that Mike Pezzullo did not respond to questioning about families being separated when he appeared before Senate estimates in May. As Ian Rintoul says, family separation is deliberately punitive and the family members left behind on Nauru are being used as hostages. The father of this separated family says

"All I want to do is join my family, I want them to be treated, I don't want anything else."

Prime Minister, bring them here.

For the 176th man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

On 11 January 2017 The Guardian reported on the mistreatment and abandonment by Australia of an Iranian refugee, Hamed, who suffers from serious mental illness and is a danger to himself and those around him. He has been imprisoned several times and has not had any psychiatric treatment despite DIBP's claims that all refugees receive appropriate healthcare.

Excerpt from letter written to me by an employee of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The full letter is  here .

Excerpt from letter written to me by an employee of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The full letter is here.

Australia has abandoned its responsibilities to the refugees on Manus Island and is trying, by neglect, to force Papua New Guinea to take them over. Australia's actions cause increased tension and hostility among the local Manus Islanders who are also victims of the situation.

What concrete steps will you immediately take to end these human rights abuses done in our name?