Lawyers urge Government to reform dangerous medical transfer process for sick refugees

Lawyers urge Government to reform dangerous medical transfer process for sick refugees

Amid delays to evacuations and more court proceedings on behalf of sick refugees, lawyers have called on the Federal Government to allow desperately needed reform to the offshore medical transfer process. 

Since 6 December 2018 – when the Morrison Government filibustered the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 – decisions on transfers continue to be delayed in nearly every case. The Government is regularly taking weeks to respond to requests for urgent medical evacuations that are recommended by medical specialists.

The Government is still forcing severely sick people to go to the Federal Court before medical evacuations are approved, even when urgent hospitalisation is recommended. Every court case has been successful. In some instances, the Government has waited until moments before a court hearing to approve the evacuation.

Since 6 December 2018, more than 30 people have been medically evacuated only after lawyers filed in court or threatened legal proceedings.

The Human Rights Law Centre today called on all politicians to support the Bill which is due to be debated in the House of Representatives this week.

“The current medical transfer process is broken and it’s putting lives at risk. The Government’s delays are continuing to force people into the courts. It should not take a team of lawyers to get seriously sick people medical treatment. This medical crisis requires a medical solution, not a political one,” said Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director at the Human Rights Law Centre.

For interview:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications: 0419 100 519