A group of Queensland paediatric health professionals and others who work with children met outside Queensland Children’s Hospital on 20 November, to take a stand against the ongoing detention of refugee and asylum seeker children and call on the government to release children from detention. 20th November is UNICEF’s World Children’s Day and is the 30th Anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Australian government’s indefinite detention of children contravenes this convention.
A similar gathering was held almost exactly 3 years ago. Group spokesperson Dr Sarah Martin states “Sadly, the banners we used 3 years ago are just as relevant today as they were in 2015. Children are still being detained indefinitely by the Australian Government.”
Dr David Levitt, who has worked in paediatrics for 20 years and is a General Paediatrician at QCH and the Mater Refugee Complex Care Clinic’s paediatric clinic, says his colleagues have been compelled to take a stand. “We have reviewed the scientific evidence and it couldn’t be more clear – detention harms children,” he said. “Being held indefinitely in detention facilities both on and offshore has long term effects on children’s physical and mental health.”
The group have launched a social media campaign using the hash tags #detentionharmschildren, #nodetention4kids and #KidsOffNauru to amplify the group’s calls for change which have until now fallen on deaf ears.
They are joining the calls from medical colleges such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine and the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to end indefinite detention of refugee and asylum seeker children and their families. The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses has written an open letter to the Australian government also calling for an end to indefinite detention of these children which Refugee Nurses Australia and other nursing organisations has pledged support for. You can also pledge support by signing the letter which can be accessed via this link.