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Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE 05 March 2021

The release of Medevac refugees from the Kangaroo Point hotel earlier this week has increased the uncertainty and anxiety among those left behind, creating a mental health crisis in the Brisbane detention centres.

Three incidents yesterday (Thursday 4 March) have resulted in one refugee being hospitalised and two others in isolation in the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) centre at Pinkenba.

Photo of isolation compound

A 33 year-old Somali refugee had shown the symptoms of resignation syndrome, refusing food and unable to come out of his room at Kangaroo Point since some Medevac refugees were released last Monday.

Last night (Thursday) around 7.30pm, he attempted suicide at the hotel. Rather than receiving medical help, he was forcibly restrained and transferred to an isolation compound at BITA.

Another mentally-distressed, 22 year-old Iranian refugee, “Hadi” (not his real name) was also placed in isolation, after being surrounded and beaten by Serco guards around 4.30 pm on Thursday afternoon. His bashing followed attempts by Serco guards to remove him from his room contrary to letter from IHMS stating his medical requirements. There are concerns that his hand has been broken and reportedly there is blood in his urine, but he has not received any further medical care.

Hadi was previously admitted to hospital in November 2020 was but discharged from the mental health unit of Royal Brisbane hospital to BITA last December. But mental health treatment in detention is zero. His distress had also noticeably increased since the release of some of his fellow Medevac refugees last Monday.

A third refugee, an Iranian man, was hospitalised after the ambulance was called to BITA when he was found collapsed in his room at BITA late Thursday afternoon (video clip available on request). The refugee has not eaten or drank for the last two or three days.

“The distress is an inevitable outcome of the chaos and confusion that surrounds the government’s recent arbitrary release of some Medevac refugees from detention,“ said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The two refugees in Fraser must be released from isolation and given care outside of the detention centre. Isolation is what passes for care by the government and IHMS.“

“The government must immediately provide a timetable for the release of all those being held in hotel prisons and detention centres. None of those left behind knows whether they will ever be released.

“Many of the Medevac refugees were brought to Australia because of damage that offshore detention had caused to their mental health. Further detention in Australia has only added to the damage.

“As well as being a human rights abuse, there is every indication that the detention of the Medevac refugees is unlawful. The abuse needs to end. The government owes all of them freedom and permanent protection.”

A peak-hour protest is being held this afternoon, 5 March, 5pm at the Kangaroo Point hotel, in Brisbane to call for the release of all those still being held in detention.

There are actions also being held today, 5 March in Melbourne (6pm outside the Park hotel, Swanston St) and in Darwin, Perth and Adelaide.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713


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