No assistance for asylum seekers

Font Size:

The Federal Government has moved to disband the independent body which provides advice on the physical and mental health needs of asylum seekers.

After recommendations from the Comrie and Palmer Inquiries, which examined immigration and mental health services following the inappropriate handling of Vivian Alvarez and Cornelia Rau, the Immigration Health and Advisory Group (IHAG) was established in 2006.  All the members of IHAG have now been sacked, except Dr Paul Alexander, who is believed to be heading a Government Advisory Panel. IHAG members claim that Dr Alexander, an Australian Defence Force medical expert, has little mental health experience.

Many of the members of IHAG were not expecting the news, Professor Louise Newman being one, “The group was informed on Friday that it has actually been disbanded, which is of course an issue of grave concern to the medical and health professionals involved,” she said.

“We’re certainly concerned that there’s currently no formal independent process of reviewing or oversight of the situation within detention.”

Associate Professor Amanda Gordon, the Australian Psychological Society’s representative to IHAG, believes that the Government has been planning to disband the group for some time, with meetings being cancelled and subgroups abolished. She also conveyed concern for the medical needs of those detained, “We are very concerned that people’s mental health needs will be completely unattended to and no one will look after them,” she said.

“In fact they are being only cared for in terms of security and that they are individual human beings who are going to be pawns to Government policy.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles was also surprised at the move to abolish IHAG, especially in the wake of such a damning Amnesty International report on the condition of Manus Island detention centre. “This is an inopportune time to disband the detention health advisory group at this moment because this is one of the mechanisms by which governments can ensure that appropriate standards are maintained,” he said.

Read more at ABC.net.au

Opinion: Why take the risk?

The removal of the independent health group which advises on the needs of asylum seekers seems to be foolhardy at best, but sadly I fear the worst.

It seems the Federal Government doesn’t have enough on its hands with the closure of Holden, the diplomatic crises with Indonesia and Timor, the carbon tax debacle and Qantas’ plea for help. No, this little bag of issues wasn’t enough for it not to deal with, it had to go and open itself up to potential claims of not giving two hoots about the health needs of asylum seekers.

The news that IHAG will be disbanded comes hot on the heels of the announcement that the Salvation Army’s contract to provide humanitarian services to asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru will not be renewed, proving that this Government simply doesn’t care.

The concerns that Dr Paul Alexander doesn’t have the necessary experience in mental and psychiatric health should set alarm bells ringing. The research published in the latest edition of Medical Journal of Australia reveals that, in 2011, of the immigration centre detainees in Darwin who visited the Royal Darwin Hospital emergency department, 187 adult attendances were for psychiatric problems, including self-harm.

Before you all start jumping up and down and saying ‘they shouldn’t be there anyway’ and ‘they deserve it’, you’re right; they don’t deserve it and they shouldn’t be there. These are human beings and no matter what journey they embarked on, they have a right to be safe and their basic needs looked after. This is what Australia signed up to way back in 1954, when we were a nation that cared, when being a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees meant something. So before you start bleating about sending them back, perhaps you want to remind yourselves of what we agreed to be part of.

And in the true spirit of keeping the public in the dark, no-one from the Government returned any media calls for comment on this matter.

Is the Government’s hard-line policy on asylum seekers working? Who would know? Who will foot the bill for the mental health of all those unnecessarily incarcerated on Manus and Nauru? At Christmas, do you care?

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

Join
By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

Written by Debbie McTaggart

180 Comments

Total Comments: 180
  1. 0
    0

    Another beat up by the ABC and certain journalists,once again more hysterical comments by certain columnists,when i subscribed to this forum i didn’t realized that that there was so much anti govt.biased.Please remember the people have spoken, let the elected people(remember the MASSIVE majority) get on with the job at least until the next election

    • 0
      0

      “The people have spoken,” you say !
      From where I was standing there was nothing to choose from.
      It was a situation of a rock & a hard place, to say the least.
      The 2 party preferred system ( oh ! & we can’t forget the Greens to push the unpalatable across the line ) is nothing but a fiasco.
      Do you really believe that the coalition would be governing Australia today if there had been someone to vote for – please!
      “Under my government there will be no carbon tax,” she said facing the camera full on.
      Besides today, if not for much longer, we have freedom of speech, as for tomorrow who knows.

    • 0
      0

      I have read and r-read your comment ,can’t figure out where you are coming from ??

  2. 0
    0

    The refugees do need to have health checks one embarking. How many might be suffering with TB and other contagious diseases. My doctor’s waiting room is packed with refugees. The free dental hospital is the same. So is this independent health group is proving too costly.

    • 0
      0

      This last week I have taken taxis home from my shopping centre..taxis driven by indian and asian ..both had terrible chesty cough wheezing etc and could hardly speak….I m not a nurse or doctor but thought these men had some condition needing x rays…..
      o one is interested when I mentioned this fact in conversation with others….
      Eni mentiined this fact to others…li fear TB etc coming into this country or worse….

  3. 0
    0

    We have insuffiicient funds in the coffers to care for all the people who want the Australian taxpayer to look after them. Get this country’s economy in the black before we try to manage the rest of the world’s problems. Large debt means we need to prioritise and that means look after our disadvantaged people before we look after others.

    • 0
      0

      HERE HERE 100%

    • 0
      0

      DITTO.
      Who caused us to be in the position mentioned by Debbie McTaggart re spying carbon tax etc?
      Not the current Government.

    • 0
      0

      couldn’t have put it better myself

    • 0
      0

      It’s ‘hear hear’ as in “I hear you’. ‘Here’ is a place, like ‘there’.
      Most migrants are bi or multilingual. Many Australians can’t even get one language right.
      Indigenous Australians weren’t too happy with the boatloads of people arriving 200 years ago either. If you read history, you’ll see it repeats itself.

    • 0
      0

      Absolutely, Aloysius.

    • 0
      0

      Aloysius – we don’t even look after our own disadvantaged too well either.

    • 0
      0

      WE NEED TO SELL OFF THE AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
      WE WILL SAVE A TON OF MONIES THERE.
      THE ABC ARE CHAMPIONS OF FREE ENTERPRISE & COMPETITION & PRIVATIZATION
      SO WHAT HAPPENED
      THEY THEMSELVES SHOULD OFFER THEMSELVES UP FOR SALE.
      DO THE RIGHT THING GUYS !
      SHUT DOWN UNNECESSARY ADVISORY GROUPS & SERVICES
      NURSE ON CALL PHONE LINE FOR ONE.
      DOCTOR ON CALL PHONE LINE SERVICE.
      AND THERE ARE MANY MORE

    • 0
      0

      I agree Aloysius
      I had a young refugee staying with me. Her nose job cost her $9,000 it makes you wonder does it not, she had went to the top of the queue for the dental hospital as well. As for mental health issues, I’m wondering how many have these issues before sailing to Australia. The housing crisis is also in jeopardy as the refugees more often than not jump the queue for that as well.

    • 0
      0

      Actual Cat. The “boat loads of people 200 years ago” did not recieve hand outs from the indigious people. Very different situation.

    • 0
      0

      Yes it is Nan Norma. I know Australia now has problems accommodating, educating and providing housing and medical services to new comers. I’m just trying to see it in a long-term perspective because on this topic in this forum, there is a lot of ignorant hateful comment. I know you’d know the facts of white colonisation here – the entire landmass was taken, the English brought deadly diseases – (smallpox, influenza) that killed thousands of Aboriginals, the Indigenous way of life was ridiculed, their customs denied. They weren’t ‘granted’ citizenship of their own country until 1967. European countries did this all over the US, South America and Asia – that’s why I’m saying history keeps repeating itself. I’m sure that Australia will be taken over by China – it’s happening now economically – they are buying up “our” farms and urban property. I don’t fancy being downtrodden in ‘my’ own country, but I can see it coming. I hope I’m wrong. Merry Christmas to you 🙂

    • 0
      0

      Hahaha i snt it tiime to change that statement ideals…….some so called refugees are already making up some homeless………

    • 0
      0

      There certainly is nt enough money at all……..and never will be no matter what anyone suggests……too many people on planet in certain places……..

  4. 0
    0

    From my experience persons with poor health or mental aberration are excluded from becoming accepted citizens of Australia. So if people arrive here without the usual Visa system and have medical or mental health problems, they should immediately be shipped back if they do not pass the basic medical requirement. We don’t accept mental ill health as a medical illness for our own citizens.

    The mental health institutions which was where the experts once were have all been disbanded and the problems shoved over to general hospitals to cope with. These hospitals are not set up for adequate security or have personnel properly trained to deal with the many variances of mental ill health. This includes the medical staff. So what difference does it make that illegals are now receiving the same level of care of mental illness as the rest of society. It’s now an equal playing field. Why should we be giving speccialised care to non residents while ignoring our own, who have either been born here or have worked and contributed to Australia all their lives. So NO I support the Government in disbanding the service and bringing it down to the standard we all find ourselves subjected to.

  5. 0
    0

    So IHAG and the majority of the doctors and professors it employs have been given the chop. What was this organisation intended to do? Was it created to provide more jobs for bureaucrats at taxpayers’ expense? What exactly was it supposed to do? For example, was it to assess the mental condition of asylum seekers? If so, what was it tasked to do next? Was it to screen out those asylum seekers whose mental condition would render them “unfit” to join the Australian population and refuse them entry into Australia? Or was it to “cure” the asylum seekers after X number of days, week, months, etc. to get these people up to a standard of fitness to be allowed entry into Australia? How beneficial to Australia was IHAG anyway?
    Before we can comment on the rights or wrongs on the winding up of the IHAG programme, what was it intended to do? How well did it perform its allotted task? Did it provide a value service for the taxpayers’ dollar? (which would have been a first!) How many asylum seekers were passed fit for entry into Australia? How were these decisions made? If one person in a family was deemed unfit to enter Australia, what happened to other family members?
    There are some male asylum seekers before the courts on a variety of sexual misconduct charges. Were these gentlemen screened by IHAG and found fit and appropriate to be granted asylum in Australia? Is pawing and groping females deemed a normal and acceptable form of behaviour by IHAG? Or are they all innocent?
    Has the derailing of the IHAG gravy train been a wise move? Perhaps IHAG should have been more responsible to the Australian voters and taxpayers instead of appeasing the trendy=lefty bleeding hearts that would have Australia be the nursemaid to the world.

    • 0
      0

      On Ya Wally

    • 0
      0

      Wally: Immigration Health Advisory Group (IHAG) was an “independent” body providing advice to the government on health and mental health needs to asylum seekers. It consisted of medical professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists and GP’s. The Abbott Government intends to set up its own “advisory panel” and the only person remaining from IHAG (Dr. Paul Alexander, Chair of IHAG) will continue to provide advice to the government. Abbott said the government will still receive advice on a monthly basis of the physical and mental health and welfare of asylum seekers, but in a more “sustained” way. It’s still going to cost the taxpayer, but in a more “sustained” way!!!!
      I doubt Wally that IHAG was a gravy train, these people are medical professionals doing their best in very difficult circumstances to ensure that unhealthy asylum seekers got treatment and didn’t spread infectious diseases among us.
      Regardless of how these asylum seekers arrived, as Debbie indicated above, they are human beings and no matter what journey they made to get here, they have a right to be safe and their basic needs looked after. This is what Australia signed up to way back in 1954 when we were a nation that cared and when we became a signatory to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees meant something.
      I note the Salvation Army’s contract to assist these human beings will also end.
      And, according to another poster here, let them all go to Manus Island and be kept apart from the local community there, ….. I don’t know what that will achieve, probably more sicknesses/diseases and mental problems.
      One has to hope that the majority of these persecuted individuals will decide not to come on these unseaworthy vessels and we will end up eventually as asylum seekers through proper channels of entry. Hard to know if it will happen, but when we all give a more human thought and feeling to these people and what they go through, think about ourselves and the comparative comfort we are lucky to live in, in this great country, it wouldn’t hurt to stretch out our hands.

    • 0
      0

      Good stuff Wally. We are controlled by do gooders, and fed crap from the ABC.

  6. 0
    0

    Good choice of emotive photograph.

  7. 0
    0

    Notice that this item soon bought out the Scott Morrison fan club.

    Most of the previous respondents failed to notice that this organisation provided advice and not assistance, but then that’s not unusual of the myopic condition of the “club”.

    “wally” (no pun intended) is correct in one point, where was the review?

    • 0
      0

      it was expensive advice from a highly-paid panel established by a feel-good government. Its recommendations were never going to save money. There is no point in providing incentives to asylum seekers who bypass dozens of countries to get to the one offering the best deal.

    • 0
      0

      How much did it cost Aloysius? How much is the new “advisory panel” going to cost?Why is Abbott still keeping the Chair of IHAG, Dr. Paul Alexander, in the “new” advisory panel? IHAG consisted of medical professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists and GP’s, what does the new panel consist of besides Dr. Paul Alexander? He can’t be a one-man advisory panel.
      Sometimes things get changed for the better and sometimes they don’t. The proof is in the distant future.

    • 0
      0

      At least Scott Morrison is stopping the boats. Rudd started this fiasco and had no control. Given time the boats will be stopped again.

    • 0
      0

      Abbott has even gone so far as to chop a Howard panel . So Howard is to the left of Abbott ?

    • 0
      0

      Morrison is hiding the boats not stoping them.

  8. 0
    0

    Charity begins at home. I wonder what percentage of these so called ‘refugees’ are being privately funded from within and therefore are no more than economic refugees. Watch this space..there’s worse to come from this mob of fools led by a mad abbott

  9. 0
    0

    Why do we fund the ABC ? Should not they be funded by Labor ad the Greens ?
    With regards to the Health and Care of the Boat People, one would guess that it is blown out of proportion by the people who have lost their cosy little positions which would have been set up to provide them with a nice little earner. This stirring is quickly jumped upon by the media and expanded on.

    No Government could fail to treat these people with care for their well being whilst in their care. How stupid to suggest otherwise! And of course the alternative remains for them, accept a taxpayer funded return to their home country and make a life there.

    As TJ says let the Government govern and let the Opposition reflect on the position in which they have placed this country. Maybe Paul Keating was right about a Banana Republic with Labor in governance.

    PS. For all those who will jump on me for this – I am not a blue tailed Liberal supporter but a thinking Australian who has seen the damage caused over the past 7 years.

  10. 0
    0

    Send them all to New Guinea, preferably well away from the locals. They are illegal immigrants and should be treated accordingly. The long suffering tax payers are sick of footing the bill. Wardens should be issued with gas masks for protection and leather gloves.

    • 0
      0

      We are still footing the bills at Manus Island and Nauru and elsewhere. And, it is our duty to do so, under the 1954 UN Convention we signed. Note that IHAG apart from keeping the Chair of it, (Dr. Paul Alexander) is being dismantled but another advisory panel will replace it. Still going to cost us the cost to dismantle the old one, the cost to set up the new one, procedures to be put in place.
      So so so lucky we live here and are not affected by the rest of the world’s inhumanities, some of which we have created in “warring” overseas???????????
      And, this is Christmas…………….. and we are Christians? ……………..

    • 0
      0

      I agree with Dogs Body. Fed up paying tax to keep these mongrels.

    • 0
      0

      I heard most now going to png..lolthe locals don t likey…

    • 0
      0

      I heard most now going to png..lolthe locals don t likey…

    • 0
      0

      I heard most now going to png..lolthe locals don t likey…

Load More Comments

FACEBOOK COMMENTS



SPONSORED LINKS

continue reading

Travel News

Australian government divided on lifting overseas travel ban

The federal government is divided about when international air travel will recommence for Australians, as consumers signal their intent to...

Food

Dietitian reveals the breakfast swaps worth making

If you're looking to live a healthier lifestyle, breakfast is a good place to start. It's the first meal of...

Finance News

COVID driving more older Australians into poverty

Many of us who endured lockdowns in Australia are familiar with the surge in energy bills at home. But for...

Lifestyle

Easy ways to make your home feel lighter and brighter

Homes tend to feel pokier the more time you spend in them - and at a time of worldwide claustrophobia,...

Technology

Why would people believe 5G causes COVID-19?

A significant number of people are concerned about 5G technology and believe it emits harmful radiation.  That's a rational fear...

Age Pension

Government's 'death tax' talks spark calls for universal basic pension

Federal government talk of scrapping the compulsory super guarantee and implementing a 'death tax' on drawdowns on deceased estates have...

Centrelink – Services Australia

Are legally blind pensioners entitled to more money?

Rob is legally blind and wants to know how this will affect his entitlements. Q. RobHow do I go through...

Health

Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent - and how to use it

Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent (and how to use it for the best protection) Shutterstock Cameron Webb,...

LOADING MORE ARTICLE...