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Trigger Warning: This post discusses sensitive issues, including rape and abortion.

The Coalition government is attempting to repeal the lifesaving legislation, Medical Evacuation (often called Medevac). The law, which came into effect in 2018, enables asylum seekers who require critical medical treatment to be temporarily transferred to Australia to receive healthcare.

As reported by The Guardian: “Anyone brought to Australia for medical treatment is not released into the community. They remain in detention and are escorted to medical appointments, remaining under guard while receiving treatment.”

It’s deeply upsetting to hear Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s latest remarks about Medevac: “There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru.”

Let’s be clear on the facts: Abortion in Nauru is only legal if the abortion will save the woman’s life. If an abortion is induced for any other reason, the inducer is subject to fourteen years’ imprisonment, according to the
United Nations Dept of Economic and Social Affairs Population. Abortions are not readily accessible to the women on Nauru. Senator the Hon. Kim Carr, stated in Question on Notice that between 2012 and 2017, 31 women were flown to Australia to terminate pregnancies, many of them as a result of rape.

Dutton Breaches Duty of Care

In 2016, Minister Dutton breached his duty of care to an asylum seeker who became pregnant after being raped on Nauru. The woman was raped while in detention on Nauru in January after she fell unconscious as the result of a seizure, leaving her with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. The rape resulted in a pregnancy which was dangerous to her health, given her suspected epilepsy and another medical condition which cannot be revealed.

Why Does Offshore Detention Exist in the First Place?

The purpose of detaining people seeking asylum who arrive without authorisation is to allow for health, identity and security checks to be carried out so as to mitigate any potential risks to the community.

The Reality

People seeking asylum are being detained indefinitely- regardless of whether they pose any health or security risks to the community.

Under Australia’s mandatory detention regime, people are imprisoned indefinitely behind razor wire. They have been charged with no crime, nor have they been sentenced to any period of incarceration.

The Major Cost

The indefinite detention of asylum seekers has caused considerable harm to already vulnerable people. Trauma related psychological disorders are just some of the health issues children and adults face while in detention.

Such detention also results in hundreds of millions of dollars of unnecessary spending each year. It is far, far cheaper to process individuals in Australia.

What can be done?

Despite plenty of fear-mongering from politicians, indefinite offshore detention is by no means necessary. Unless there are extraordinary extenuating circumstances, health and security checks can be performed within 8 weeks. After this period, asylum applications can be carried out which applicants live and work in the community.

What can you do?

Contact your local MP and demand refugees on Manus and Nauru are brought to safety here.

Image source: The Guardian