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05 February 2019

Save the Children expresses concern over government’s proposed medical panel

Aid agency calls for Urgent Medical Treatment Bill to be passed
Save the Children is calling on federal politicians to pass the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill which is scheduled to go before Parliament on February 12.
The leading child rights agency said the Morrison Government’s proposed medical treatment panel announced on Sunday, while so far lacking detail, appears to leave decisions about the medical needs of detained asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island in the hands of politicians rather than medical professionals. 
“While it’s pleasing to see greater recognition of the need to address urgent medical treatment of people in offshore detention, we do not support the Morrison proposal as it stands,” Save the Children’s Director of Policy and International Programs, Mat Tinkler said.
“Based on our understanding, the proposal will not make the changes needed to adequately address the medical needs of detainees. Save the Children supports the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill, which does more to address the medical needs of detainees on Nauru, and we urge MPs to back it on February 12.”
Mr Tinkler also welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that all refugee and asylum seeker children would be off Nauru in the coming days.
Mr Tinkler said that it followed an extensive public campaign, Kids Off Nauru, involving more than 20 organisations, including Save the Children, as well as medical professionals and independent MPs.
“It’s great that soon there won’t be any children in onshore or offshore detention. However, children shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Mr Tinkler said.
“The campaign played a key role in applying pressure to the Parliament and Government on a very important issue that lots of Australians care deeply about. It shows what can be achieved when the community bands together and demands action regarding an injustice. It shows the value of sustained advocacy work, and when we work together we can cause change.”
Between 2013 and 2015 Save the Children provided support to children and their families on Nauru. Our child protection staff, teachers and social workers witnessed first-hand the devastating physical and mental impacts of the detention of children.

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