Refugee Council of Australia
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Medevac law a ‘crucial lifeline’, Refugee Council of Australia says in Senate submission

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has defended the Medevac legislation as a crucial lifeline for seriously ill refugees in a submission made today to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The submission paints a shocking picture of the physical and mental health crisis in Australia’s offshore detention centres, the lack of appropriate health services and the inadequate response of the Australian Government.

“The Australian Government has failed to address the crisis that it has perpetuated in offshore detention,” RCOA CEO Paul Power said. “Hundreds of men and women in facilities on Manus Island and Nauru are suffering as a result and many have already died, including several by suicide. This situation has been repeatedly condemned by UN bodies and many other international human rights groups.

“The Medevac legislation was put in place following a groundswell from the Australian people, and members of both Houses of Parliament drawing a line in the sand. Far from opening the fabled ‘floodgates’, this legislation allows people temporary access to Australian facilities, and has already saved the lives of many in urgent need of medical treatment.

“The Government’s bid to repeal the Medevac legislation is deeply disappointing, given the role the legislation has played in removing political and bureaucratic obstacles to transfers being made purely on the basis of medical need. With the Medevac law in place, medical decision-making is now where it should be – primarily in the hands of medical professionals. We urge the Committee to reflect this in its report to the Senate in October.”

Since the legislation was passed in February, over 100 people have been approved for medical transfer, and over 90 transferred.

The Submission will be available online from next week on the Committee homepage.

Media enquiries: Laura Stacey 0488 035 535

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