MEDIA RELEASE May 28, 2016
Medical Students Say Bring Refugees Here
MEDICAL STUDENTS studying at the University of Queensland Rockhampton Clinical School took a stand over the weekend to participate in the national online #BringThemHere photo campaign to show the Australian Government their concern over the current treatment of asylum seekers and call for an end to offshore processing.
Rebecca Leeks, a fourth year medical student studying in Rockhampton and the National Student Representative for Doctors 4 Refugees says that doctors and medical students around Australia are not able to stand by and see asylum seekers suffer under the Australian Government policy.
“Three asylum seekers have set themselves alight, one has been killed and others have died as a result of the poor care that they have received on Nauru and Manus Island.” “We will be doctors in the next two years and don’t want to treat refugees with serious preventable medical conditions which have occurred as a result of the Australian Government’s neglect.”
Rebecca joined Doctors 4 Refugees because it is a national organisation that links asylum seekers in detention centres who believe they are not receiving adequate medical care to doctors in Australia.
“Doctors 4 Refugees are so busy with asylum seeker cases that they can’t help all of those who need assistance.”
Rebecca said that medical students and doctors are leading the call to bring asylum seekers to Australia for processing and end the policy of locking them up in detention.
“The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Medical Students’ Association both strongly oppose prolonged mandatory detention of refugees because it has detrimental effects on detainees’ mental health which is often already fragile because of the horrific things they have experienced before they arrive. They are being traumatised further by our government when all they did wrong was seek our help.”
Doctors at the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane refused to release a baby back to detention earlier this year because it was considered an unsuitable place for her to recover.
University of Queensland Medical Society Rockhampton Representative Ezaam Fraz who was also part of the photo campaign said he strongly supported refugees being brought to Australia while their claims for asylum were being processed so that they can be treated with the compassion that any humans fleeing war torn countries deserve. He urged the Australian Government to change their policy to one which Australia can be proud of.
“Politicians need to stop locking up innocent people fleeing persecution. It’s destroying their lives.” said Mr Fraz.
He said that the government has failed to honour their responsibilities under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and that it is no surprise that the Papua New Guinea Government recently found that the detention centre on Manus Island was illegal.
“Other countries are starting to notice the inhumanity of Australia’s refugee policy with a second scathing article in the New York Times this week entitled, ‘Australia’s Offshore Cruelty’. It makes us look like monsters.”
Mr Fraz and Ms Leeks joined other medical students in Rockhampton as part of the national #BringThemHere online photo campaign in the hope that whoever is elected on July 2 will listen to the doctors’ groups and the United Nations who are calling for more humane treatment of refugees. Ms Leeks said that it was important for doctors to do what they can to stop refugees being locked up when they are simply fleeing war torn countries and looking for safety.
“In the future we will be the ones treating the refugees traumatised by our government’s detention policy because while war rages on overseas, people will continue to flee and seek Australia’s help. As future doctors we will take a Hippocratic Oath to first do no harm. Perhaps the Australian Government should take that oath too” said Ms Leeks.
The photo was taken on 28 May 2016 and will be circulated throughout websites over the internet and sent to Malcolm Turnbull.
Contact: Rebecca Leeks 0431182737.