Royal Melbourne hospital staff protest

We support RCH stance on asylum seeker children

ANMF (Vic Branch) has passed a resolution supporting the stance of Royal Children’s Hospital doctors and nurses who have called for an end to detaining asylum seeker children.

Nurses have a professional obligation under the Nursing and Midwifery Board’s competency standards to advocate on behalf of patients. We agree with the health professionals at the Royal Children’s Hospital in saying that asylum seeker detention centres are not safe or healthy places for children.

RCH clinicians, including nurses, paediatricians and the Head of General Medicine, Dr Tom Connell, gathered in front of a banner saying ‘Detention harms children’ to demand an end to the harmful practice.

RCH clinicians said: ‘Detention causes harm and it must end. Children in detention have nightmares, bed-wetting, and behaviour problems. They develop depression and anxiety symptoms, and their development is affected. These issues are so common they've become normal in detention. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to treat these children while they are still detained.’

RCH clinicians say that in discharging patients, they must consider patients’ safety, wellbeing and their environment.

The Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry ‘The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014’ concluded that prolonged mandatory detention of asylum seeker children causes significant mental and physical illness and developmental delays, in breach of Australia’s international obligations.

The inquiry heard numerous reported incidents of assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm involving children. In a 15 month period, from January 2013 to March 2014, 128 children in detention engaged in acts of self-harm, including attempted suicide.

ANMF (Vic Branch) also opposes the Federal Government’s secrecy provisions under the Border Force Act under which detention centre workers, including health workers, face two years jail for speaking publically about conditions within centres.

ANMF (Vic Branch) is pleased that Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy has also spoken in support of the Royal Children’s Hospital clinicians’ position on asylum seeker children in detention.