September 25, 2018

DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE MEDIA RELEASE September 24, 2018 NO TIME TO WAIT FOR NAURU CHILDREN Doctors for Justice are calling for the government to immediately transfer all remaining children and their families from Nauru to Australia for assessment and treatment. Professor Louise Newman a Convenor of D4J said “we are witnessing a major medical emergency. Over 100 children are at risk of harm on Nauru as a result of the deterioration in their mental and physical health.   Some are at risk of death.   There are children as young as ten who are suicidal and developing Resignation Syndrome – a state of severe withdrawal.  These children need immediate care and treatment which is not available on Nauru. These refugees are Australia’s responsibility.  Our government transferred them to Nauru more than five years ago and into harm’s way. The Commonwealth Government’s duty of care requires them to provide adequate health care.  Currently, recommendations made by doctors for transfer to suitable facilities are being overridden by Border Force resulting in dangerous situations caused by delaying and denying patient care. The Federal Court has confirmed that Australia is responsible for the care of the person needing treatment, and there is extensive independent clinical evidence to support demands for individual patients to be transferred to Australia for appropriate treatment. It is never acceptable for children to be held in detention.  A wide body of literature shows quite clearly that there will be lifelong trauma for these children given their circumstances”. Dr Sara Townend from Doctors for Justice said that “Doctors working on Nauru have been sacked or their contracts not renewed because they recommend transfers for their patients.  It is disturbing that their attempts at providing good medical care are thwarted“. Doctors for Justice calls for an immediate amnesty for all children and families on Nauru in the face of clear evidence of the severe harm that is being caused. “The blind adherence to the policy of offshore processing and housing of asylum seekers and refugees is unsustainable and predictably results in mental deterioration of all trapped in circumstances where hope is lost” said Professor Newman.   CONTACTS Professor Louise Newman AM Convenor, Doctors for Justice 0418453447 Dr Sara Townend Doctors for Justice 0421333316

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DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE MEDIA RELEASE

September 1, 2018

DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE MEDIA RELEASE

September 1, 2018 DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE AMNESTY FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES ON NAURU Doctors for Justice Convenor Professor Louise Newman AM spoke out today after reports that the President of Nauru has accused refugee advocates of encouraging children to self-harm on Nauru. “I reject any suggestions that refugee advocates were to blame for children self harming on Nauru.” Professor Newman said. “The crisis of mental illness amongst children on Nauru is real. Children are repeatedly attempting suicide by lethal means. There has been a disturbing rise in cases of Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome (TWS) also known as Resignation Syndrome.” “These conditions are increasing as a direct result of prolonged detention, limited access to child and adolescent mental health care, and severe stress in families. Children are at the end of their capacity to withstand the trauma of this situation.” Dr Newman added. “Conditions such as TWS are a response to severe trauma and have been described in other countries amongst asylum seeker and refugee children. It is a sign that the situation on Nauru is unsafe and damaging.” “These conditions, which can involve a state of coma and life-threatening starvation, cannot be encouraged or induced.” “To dismiss the serious nature of mental illness in children is dangerous as well as morally unconscionable.” “What is needed is an urgent response to this unsustainable situation and an immediate amnesty for children and families to access appropriate medical and psychiatric treatment.” Doctors will continue to speak out about these cases. The Director of the National Justice Project, George Newhouse, said “that the President of Nauru was not qualified to make medical assessments and that his approach to children with diagnosed illnesses was putting their lives at risk.” CONTACTS Professor Louise Newman AM 0418 453 447 Website: www.d4j.com.au Adj Prof George Newhouse 0422 255 109 Website: www.justice.org.au DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE Doctors for Justice is a coalition of medical practitioners, nurses, allied and mental health professionals and human rights experts seeking to promote safe access and best practice health care for all, regardless of race, religion, age, disability, gender or location. NATIONAL JUSTICE PROJECT The National Justice Project is a not for profit legal service. We combine strategic legal action with effective advocacy to advance human rights and social justice in Australia and in the Pacific Region. www.justice.org.au

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Article published today by the RACGP about Doctors for Justice

August 24, 2018

https://www.racgp.org.au/newsGP/Professional/What-role-do-doctors-have-in-social-advocacy

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August 21, 2018

Doctors for Justice convenor Professor Louise Newman on ABC Radio National this morning Click on the below link to find out more ‘Overwhelming majority of children on Nauru are experiencing mental health problems’ says psychiatry professor

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August 13, 2018

Published today in MJA InSight a Doctors for Justice article by Professor Louise Newman and Dr Sara Townend Click on the below link to read Doctors for Justice: human rights, health and social action

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D4J Media Release

July 30, 2018

D4J Media Release

DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE (D4J) MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS IN IMMIGRATION – TIME TO ACT An inquiry is urgently needed into the provision of mental health care for refugees and asylum seekers across the immigration system. Mental illness and distress have become endemic with effects for children and adults, with serious consequences. In the past few weeks no less than 9 young people have been transferred to Australia after Federal Court interventions by the National Justice Project and others. On Tuesday (30/07/18) The WA Coroner in Perth will begin the first of 3 Inquests into the deaths in Australian custody of asylum seekers. Fazal Chegeini was an Iranian Kurd who was found to be a refugee but held on Christmas Island and denied entry to Australia. The contract medical service IHMS noted his physical and mental decline but the Department refused treatment on the mainland. Fazal was found dead in scrub outside the Detention Centre in December 2015. His is a tragic example of failure to provide much needed psychiatric assessment and care and is ultimately a failure to prevent loss of life. There have been 12 deaths by suicide in offshore processing facilities, and high rates of self-harm including in children as young as 10 years of age. We are witnessing the consequences of a system which fails to acknowledge the vulnerability and mental health needs of this group and contributes in a direct way to mental deterioration and mental illness. Urgent independent review and oversight is needed to focus on: 1 Standards of overall health service provision and monitoring of care 2 Emergency response and transfer procedures to appropriate psychiatric facilities when clinically indicated ad recommended by clinicians 3 Medical governance – the Commonwealth Government’s response to clinical recommendations relating to refugees and asylum seekers 4 Need to empower clinicians by involving Health authorities with decision making powers regrading medical and mental health treatment 5 Need for independent expert clinical advice on mental health and prevention of mental disorder in vulnerable groups including the needs of women, children and young people BACKGROUND Service providers, medical experts and whistleblowers have all raised growing concerns about mental health issues involving highly vulnerable people. There is an available body of research pointing to the high rates of mental illness in detention and the impact of prolonged detention and lack of resolution on traumatized groups. The now disbanded independent advisory group to the Immigration Department (DEHAG) provided advice and repeatedly advocated for reform and improved standards of care. In an increasingly politicised area, the needs of asylum seekers are marginalised and clinicians are disempowered and compromised in terms of their caring role. This has direct consequences for the provision of care: 1 Undermining of clinical expertise and lack of action on clinical recommendations 2 Urgent and necessary treatment is being routinely denied and delayed 3 Mental health deteriorates with serious consequences including suicidal behavior, psychosis and child disorders such as Pervasive Refusal Syndrome There is no process currently to adequately investigate and resolve these issues and no formal review of the impact of delayed treatment and failure to follow medical recommendations. While some of the deaths in offshore detention are subject to coronial processes in Australia and Papua New Guinea, these processes are limited to the circumstances of individual deaths and the need for systemic reform is urgent. Of particular concern are children and adolescents with acute mental health issues including self-harm and suicidal ideation and   the lack of adequate child and adolescent psychiatric expertise within the immigration system DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE RECOMMENDS 1 Urgent establishment of a special commission of inquiry into the health and mental health needs of asylum seekers and refugees and review of current service provision. This needs to involve the medical and clinical professional organizations and refugee health experts. 2 Reestablishment of an independent oversight and monitoring body to review standards of care in immigration and reporting to health authorities. Health care should be provided and managed by public health services 3 Review by independent specialist mental health clinicians of the mental wellbeing and mental condition of all detainees currently receiving mental health care and support for comprehensive care. Professor Louise Newman AM FRANZCP Convenor, Doctors for Justice www. d4j.com.au @louiseKnewman Contact Louise Newman 0418 453 447    

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D4J Committee Meeting

July 19, 2018

D4J Committee Meeting

  Prof George Newhouse and Prof Louise Newman working together in a Doctors for Justice strategic planning meeting

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