13 Oct 2015

Aus doctors say detention policies are unethical

12:45 pm on 13 October 2015

The Australian Medical Association is backing a call from around 1000 medical staff at an Australian hospital to end the mandatory detention of children.

Protesters rally at Sydney Town Hall on June 30 2015 to call for the return of a five-month-old baby sent to the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru. CITIZENSIDE/RICHARD MILNES

Protesters rally in Sydney to call for the return of a five-month-old baby sent to the Nauru detention centre Photo: AFP

On Friday, doctors from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne said they would refuse to discharge asylum seeker children back into detention.

They say current detention policies for camps like those on Manus Island and Nauru contradict the ethical obligations doctors have to put the interests of their patient first.

The AMA Vice president Stephen Parnis says their concerns are reflective of many medical professionals around the country.

"We will push this case because we think it's untenable to remain this way. It is a fundamental aspect of medical assessment that you try not to send people back to circumstances that cause harm. Our colleagues, and with the support of many from around Australia, are saying 'Enough's enough'."

Mr Parnis says the AMA wants to see an alternative solution in federal policy that is in patients' interests.

"This is not an easy situation but the fact of the matter is we are talking about avoidable suffering in the group that I think everyone in the community values higher than everything else, and that is the health and wellbeing of children."

Meanwhile, the lawyer for a woman held at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru says she has been transferred to Australia for medical treatment.

The woman reportedly fell pregnant after she was raped on Nauru, where abortion is illegal, and had called on the Australian government to transfer her there for the procedure.

Her lawyers last week said they had repeatedly received no reply from either the prime minister of the immigration minister.

But one of the lawyers, George Newhouse, says the woman is now in Sydney receiving medical treatment, but did not elaborate.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs