Australia

Kids off Nauru letter signed by hundreds of Australian doctors delivered to PM

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Australia's top medical experts have called for the prime minister to listen to their advice and transfer vulnerable families off Nauru.

Hundreds of doctors have signed a petition calling for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to listen to calls to transfer the refugee children and their families off Nauru for urgent medical attention.

About five per cent of all registered doctors in Australia have signed a letter that is being delivered to Mr Morrison in Canberra on Monday.

Almost 6000 doctors are demanding the government remove the 80 children from Nauru because of serious mental and physical health concerns.

doctorsmakechange.org
doctorsmakechange.org

"The medical situation is urgent for this vulnerable group of children," it reads.

"Medical experts, including doctors who have worked on Nauru, have spoken repeatedly about their concerns.  They report widespread, significant deteriorations in physical and mental health.

"We call on you to show your commitment to the strong health care system we have in Australia, which we are the guardians of, by accepting the recommendations of many medical experts and bringing these children and families to Australia so their health care needs can be met adequately, and with appropriate clinical oversight," it added.

Dr Sara Townend, one of the co-authors of the letter to the PM, made an emotional plea on the grounds of Parliament House on Monday saying the situation on Nauru is a "medical emergency and demands an emergency response".

"The letter we wrote was a way to give voice to doctors from around the country. This morning we delivered that letter to the Prime Minister's office... there was no formal support or media for this letter, doctors cared enough to share it with their colleagues and friends," Dr Townend said.

Australian Medical Associations paediatric representative Dr Paul Bauert.
Australian Medical Associations paediatric representative Dr Paul Bauert.
AAP

The petition followed doctors ramping up their campaign to have children in detention immediately removed from Nauru.

Australian Medical Association paediatric representative Dr Paul Bauert, who has treated patients on Nauru, says it is a sad situation that could be easily avoided.

Health professionals are calling on the government to give the vulnerable children urgent support.

"This is the only situation I've come across where it is deliberate government policy which is causing the pain and suffering of these children," Dr Bauert told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

The AMA has been lobbying the government to change policy on Nauru, but just last month Prime Minister Scott Morrison rebuffed a plea from the peak doctors' association.

"I will not put at risk any element of Australia's border protection policy," Mr Morrison said.

Dr Bauert said almost all the children in detention on Nauru are traumatised.

"Many are damaged already, but we don't want this damage to be permanent," Dr Bauert said.

"They need to be assessed and treated as a matter of urgency.

"It's a miracle we haven't had a death already."

A separate rally will take place outside of parliament on Tuesday calling for the removal of children from Nauru.

The protest is being led by Rural Australians for Refugees.

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