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MEDIA RELEASE: AMSA Crossing Borders launches March for Refugees as Gov denies responsibility

19 Mar 2018


Students to march in support of refugee and asylum seeker health


Medical students will march in Sydney on 7 April to protest the Federal Government’s failure to openly assess and report on the health and wellbeing and living conditions of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.


The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA), one of the organising bodies for the student march, has for some time been calling on the Government to allow a group of independent medical experts to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the health and other needs of the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.


Ms Adele Evans, the Project Coordinator for AMSA Crossing Borders, the AMSA Global Health Project, which advocates for refugee and asylum seeker health, said today that AMSA had been in contact with the Department of Home Affairs since December last year expressing concerns about the health and wellbeing of the Manus Island asylum seekers.


“We asked the Department to confirm that they are ensuring medical care is being delivered to the asylum seekers on Manus Island in a timely and sustainable manner, without interruption, to a standard equal to that in Australia,” Ms Evans said.


“The responses have been disappointing. They have not directly addressed the concerns we raised, and have not clarified the health status of the asylum seekers.


“The Government refuses to be accountable for the treatment of the asylum seekers on Manus Island, insisting that it is the PNG government's responsibility. But under international law, the Government has a legal and ethical obligation to protect and provide adequate health care to these asylum seekers.


“Mandatory detention is extremely harmful to physical and mental health. We must help these vulnerable people, but the Government will not act.


“This is why Australian medical students have decided to march in protest. We want to highlight the Government’s inaction and lack of transparency.


“As future health professionals, it is our responsibility to advocate for our most vulnerable patients.


“We want members of the community to march with us and protest this inhumane treatment. We cannot stay silent while our government attempts to wash their hands of the continuous violation and disregard for human rights,” Ms Evans said.


The AMSA call for an assessment of health services on Manus Island by an independent panel of medical experts is consistent with the policies of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), Royal Australasian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).


The Detention Harms Health - Student March for Refugees is on Saturday, April 7. Details are available at


Media Contact:

RJ Seastres

M: 0423 648 688


Published: 19 Mar 2018