6 Oct 2014

Asylum seeker children health issues little known

4:09 pm on 6 October 2014

A recent medical report has revealed Australian paediatricians are not fully aware of issues surrounding their asylum seeker child patients.

Canberra has been holding dozens of children in its detention centre in Nauru.

Less than half of the respondents of the survey knew which subgroups of asylum seekers were eligible for Medicare or knew any previous medical history of the children, such as pre-departure HIV and tuberculosis screening tests.

Less than half of the respondents were aware that the average stay in refugee camps before settlement in Australia was more than 10 years.

Dr Hasantha Gunasekera has been treating asylum seeker children for the last ten years.

He said doctors are not to blame for their lack of knowledge because the information was not easily accessible.

"The trouble we have is that there's such a lack of transparency in this area that it's very hard to get information and people would prefer not to talk about these problems. And so finding out the very basic level of information is very difficult. So I'm not actually blaming my colleagues for this."

Dr Hasantha Gunasekera