Detention is child abuse, say doctors

ASYLUM SEEKERS BOAT COCOS ISLAND

Australian pediatricians believe detaining asylum seeker children is child abuse.

About 80 per cent of pediatricians questioned for a new study agree with an Australian Medical Association statement that mandatory detention of children is a form of abuse.

But the majority know very little about asylum seeker processing.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, interviewed 139 pediatricians to investigate the extent of their asylum seeker knowledge.

More than 100 doctors disapproved of offshore processing on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and about 70 per cent disagreed with the detention of children at all.

The authors say the report shows “considerable confusion” amongst doctors and recommends better training and education.

“Most pediatricians surveyed used the correct terminology of asylum seeker rather than boat person or illegal immigrant,” the report states.

“However, we found serious gaps in knowledge in relation to Medicare eligibility.”

About 700 children remain in detention, including on Christmas Island and Nauru.

Last month, the government brokered a deal with the Palmer United Party to introduce temporary protection visas, opening the door for the release of about 400 children from Christmas Island.

That followed plans to release 150 young asylum seeker children from onshore detention centres while they are processed.

However, any child who arrived after July 19 last year will be detained offshore as part of the government’s border protection policy.