Aussie Doctors' Desperate Plea For Children In Emotional Video
A new video from more than 6,000 doctors about the dire situation for refugee and asylum seeker children on Nauru has been released.
The doctors are urging the Government to do more than have compassion: it's asking it to listen to medical advice.
The video includes messages from medical professionals in a kind of FAQ-style format with the aim of getting children removed from the island and the the Australian funded detention centre there.
"We need to move these children off the island, because it's the island that's caused the problem," said Dr. Jennifer Dixon.
"You don't leave an asthmatic in a room full of smoke. They're never going to get better where they are."
In the video, the medical professionals answer questions about the medical situation on the tiny island, which lies about 4,000km to Australia's north east.
Why is medical transfer required rather than increasing service on Nauru? (Because the children are that sick.) Why do all of them need to be removed, rather than just the critical ones? (Because it goes against best medical practice.) Why do their families need to come as well? (Because these kids won't survive without them.)
It comes a week after an open letter signed by more than 5,500 doctors in Australia -- including esteemed professors, appointees to the Order of Australia and several Australians of the Year -- was delivered to parliament, urging for the immediate evacuation of kids off Nauru.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to accept the letter, but Greens MP Adam Bandt read it aloud in parliament, officially entering it into Hansard. He, along with independents Rebekha Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie, introduced the 'Kids Off Nauru' bill on Monday.
"After Wentworth, if Labor backs it, we can get them here within weeks," he tweeted.
On Saturday Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps pulled off an extraordinary swing against the Liberal Party on Saturday in the formerly blue ribbon seat of Wentworth.
The loss of the seat has thrown the Coalition into minority government.
Phelps has indicated that getting the kids off Nauru will be her top priority, telling Studio 10 on Monday morning: "I think there are moves afoot to find a solution particularly for the children and their families to bring them to Australia... and the Australian people are saying loud and clear we want a solution and we want those people brought to Australia."
The situation for kids on the island has gone from being "bad but stable" to "bad and deteriorating" over the last few months, Dr. Neela Janakiramanan told ten daily.
The rapid deterioration of these children is why it's so urgent that either of the major parties works to evacuate them and their families, said Janakiramanan.
"Even common place conditions like diabetes, skin conditions, and breast lumps are not being properly managed on Nauru," she said.
"Sending more resources isn't going to work. All these proposals are a band-aid solution."
There have been several instances where doctors and lawyers fighting for individual medical evacuation for a sick child or adult have been forced to take the fight to the Federal Court, said Janakiramanan, which has sided on the side of medical advice every time.
Yet she said there have been recent cases where despite a court decision, the Nauruan government has refused to issue an exit visa.
More recently, Médecins Sans Frontières doctors were expelled from the island, after providing mental support to both local Naurauns and refugees and asylum seekers since November 2017.
They described the situation as critical, and cited refugees, including children, as dealing with severe mental health issues like depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation and 'withdrawal syndrome'.
"Mental health issues are contagious, and we have to get them off Nauru," said another doctor in the video, Dr. Andrew Foote.
"We have to get them off now."
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead photo: World Vision Australia
Video produced by Shaun Townend at Hustle FilmWorks.