Help asylum seekers in detention get the medical care they need

In late 2016 PIAC launched the Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project to help people who are suffering in Australian immigration detention centres without access to the medical and mental health care they need.

Marco* is one of our clients. 33 years old, he spent 55 months in immigration detention, being moved between centres on Christmas Island and in Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. Marco has been diagnosed with several serious psychiatric conditions, among them a major depressive disorder. While detained, Marco required treatment in several psychiatric facilities – after which he was returned to a detention centre.


In 2012 Marco sustained a serious neck injury during a failed suicide attempt while in detention. Almost five years later he is still waiting for surgery, despite suffering daily from chronic pain and discomfort. During a recent transfer between detention facilities he was handcuffed for 24 hours, 13 of those hours being spent travelling upright in a van without access to food, medication or toilet facilities. It was an intimidating and humiliating experience.

We know asylum seekers suffer high levels of trauma. We also know the damage to mental health caused by long- term, indefinite detention. Despite this, conditions in our detention centres, including access to health care, are unregulated. The Federal Court has described this situation as a ‘legislative vacuum’.

We are taking on Marco’s case to highlight a lack of care provided for this vulnerable group of people and the harm caused by not meeting their needs. Through test cases for clients like Marco, we will get justice for individuals who have suffered without proper care. That work will also support advocacy for changes to the system, to ensure that asylum seekers have an enforceable right to a basic level of medical and mental health care.

Marco is just one of dozens of people that have already approached us for help. We want your support to help Marco and the 1,300 other people in immigration detention who face missing out on health care that the rest of Australia takes for granted.

Your donation today will go directly to supporting our work for Marco and clients like him. Please donate online, or call us directly on 02 8898 6500.

Regular donations make a significant difference and provide more certainty for our work for social justice. We would be especially grateful if you would consider becoming a regular donor.

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