Medevac a must
Following the death of refugee Hamid Khazaei in 2014 after he became ill on Manus Island, the coroner recommended “a systemic overhaul of healthcare responses in offshore detention, including a new policy to allow doctors on the ground, rather than Canberra officials, to approve medical transfers”.
The “Medevac” legislation was a practical response to that recommendation. Prior to this, medically recommended transfers were being obstructed by legal challenges by the federal government.
In every case, the doctors’ initial recommendation was upheld. Many of these sick people were children and the last kids came off Nauru well after the Wentworth byelection. Since that historic legislation passed, over 60 seriously ill refugees have been transferred on medical recommendation, saving many lives. This legislation did not result in boats attempting to reach Australia.
Australia has a moral and legal responsibility to provide appropriate and timely medical care to refugees and people seeking asylum in offshore detention.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying that repeal of this important legislation is a “priority” exposes a moral vacuum in Australia’s refugee policy. I urge all Australians to continue to support Medevac.
Prof Kerryn Phelps AM,