New report calls for urgent reform to standard of care in immigration detention

A new report highlighting a lack of basic medical care provided to asylum seekers in Australia’s onshore immigration detention centres, has called for urgent legislation and practical measures to ensure that asylum seekers receive the same health care as the general community.

‘In Poor Health: Health care in Australian immigration detention,’ reveals cases of asylum seekers with serious, chronic diseases and injuries suffering indefinitely without access to treatments that are freely available to prisoners and members of the broader community.

‘We are seeking fair and humane treatment for people who are especially vulnerable, consistent with our fundamental duty of care,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor. ‘This should not be controversial.’

The report details the stories of some of the 24 asylum seekers retained by PIAC, as part of our Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project. There are approximately 1800 people currently in immigration detention across Australia.

The government owes a clear, common law duty of care to people it detains.

However, the legislation which governs the treatment of people in detention does not include a guaranteed right to reasonable medical care and treatment. This ‘legislative vacuum’ stands in stark contrast to the laws of Australian states and territories which ensure people in correctional custody do have such a right.

‘The Australian government must take urgent action to address this serious gap by providing for a minimum health standard in the Migration Regulations,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

‘These amendments should be backed up by practical steps to facilitate access to medical services as well as increased oversight including by the National Preventive Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).’

Read the report here.

Media contact: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce – 0478 739 280

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