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Ask your MP to #BacktheBill

After five years in offshore detention, the 119 kids and their families that were languishing on Nauru are off the island. It's an extraordinary win – but for the thousand people still detained on Manus and Nauru, the horrific medical crisis continues.

It's a broken, toxic system that's resulted in lives being lost – but that could be about to change. The Urgent Medical Treatment Bill put forward by the crossbench last year will make it to the House of Representatives next week.

Prime Minister Morrison has announced a sham medical process that would leave the Immigration Minister – not medical professionals – in charge of deciding who can get medical treatment in Australia.4 It's a cheap move designed to undercut the crossbenchers bill – and with a vote this close, we need to sure up every vote.

Together, we need to call on MPs who spoke out and stood strong last year, to do the same again now. To make sure they know we have their back if they ensure doctors' orders, not the whims of politicians, determine the treatment for sick people in offshore detention. Can you email your MP and call on them to #BackTheBill?
Keep it short and simple:
  • Introduce yourself and mention you're a constituent
  • Say the process for transferring sick people out of offshore detention is broken.
  • Say we need new legislation to urgently transfer ill people out of Nauru and Manus, and to ensure decisions about medical transfers and treatment are based on the advice of doctors, not bureaucrats.
  • Ask your MP to stay strong and support the Crossbench's Urgent Medical Treatment bill when Parliament resumes next week.
  • That's it!
  • There is an urgent medical crisis on Manus Island and Nauru and the situation has reached breaking point.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International, UNHCR and more than 6,000 doctors have called on the Government to evacuate sick people in offshore detention to Australia for treatment.2,3,4,5
  • The current process for transferring sick people out of offshore detention is broken.
  • Not only is there a secret committee overriding doctors' advice on medical transfers, the Government has also repeatedly refused these requests and attempted to block medical transfers in court.6,7
  • The Urgent Medical Treatment bill is being introduced to address this medical crisis, and ensure a fast-tracked and rigorous process for sick people in desperate need of medical treatment, based on the advice of medical professionals not bureaucrats.

References
[1] 'Lost in stagnation: Behind the refugee bill that plunged the Parliament into chaos', SMH, 6 December 2018.
[2] 'Nauru in the grip of a mental health crisis, MSF report reveals', The Guardian, 3 December 2018.
[3] 'Amnesty report warning on Manus Island', SBS, 21 November 2018.
[4] 'UN: 'health crisis' demands closure of Australia's offshore detention centres', The Guardian, 13 October 2018.
[5] 'Almost 6,000 doctors sign letter to PM demanding children be taken off Nauru', The Guardian, 15 October 2018.
[6] 'The secret committee determining medical transfers from Nauru and Manus Island', The Guardian, 4 December 2018.
[7] 'Australia spent $275,000 fighting requests for urgent medical transfers of asylum seekers', The Guardian, 29 September 2018.

  • This week, the Morrison Government announced it would introduce an "independent medical review panel to vet asylum-seeker transfers".8
  • However, this process still puts the first decision about urgent medical treatment in the hands of bureaucrats, not medical professionals. The Medical Transfer Clinical Assurance Panel will be hand-picked by the Minister, with no assurances as to the independence of its members.
  • Also, under the Government's proposal the Minister still has the ultimate say. This is the same Minister under whose watch, saw 12 people die in offshore detention and repeated blocking of any requests to transfer critically ill patients, including children.
  • Doctors need to be front and centre of every decision - which is what is being proposed by the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill.

References
[8] 'PM bows to pressure over refugee medical transfers', The Australian, 4 February 2019.

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