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The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine – the peak body for Emergency Medicine in Australia and New Zealand – has joined with other specialist medical bodies and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to call for urgent action to protect the health of families in detention on Nauru.

College President Dr Simon Judkins said that it is impossible for the College to not have a position on such an important issue.

“As signatories to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Australia has obligations to people who arrive in Australia seeking asylum, which means anyone seeking asylum on our shores should receive the same medical care as all Australians. We call for an undertaking from all sides of Parliament to commit to providing refugees and asylum seekers with the same high-quality and appropriate healthcare provided to Australians and bring them to Australia where they can receive proper care.”

Dr Judkins also joined other medical groups with genuine humanitarian health concerns to advocate for an overhaul of clinical governance arrangements for patients on Nauru.

“As is the case in Australia, clinical need determines access to care – this should apply equally in Nauru. As every parent knows, if a child needs urgent medical support, access to care must be determined by a doctor – not a public servant,” he said.

Dr Judkins said the College is committed to fighting to protect the health of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru.

“As physicians, we have a duty to uphold the right to the highest-quality standards of healthcare and we commit to do this for all populations. Regardless of the political situation they find themselves in – protecting the health and wellbeing of families should be the highest priority.”

 “We are shocked and heartbroken by reports from Australia’s detention centres and I know I speak for a great many in the community in calling for urgent changes to the way medical care is provided on Nauru. There is a strong evidence base that shows the detrimental, long-term mental and physical health effects of detention, particularly on families with children – we cannot stand by and watch this,” Dr Judkins said.  

ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and the advancement of professional standards. 
ACEM’s members are active in a variety of endeavours supporting the development and delivery of emergency care in the Pacific and in developing and low and middle-income countries.
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