Go Salary
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Social Affairs

Community Groups Slam Government’s Medical Review Panel Proposal


Wednesday, 6th February 2019 at 5:21 pm
Luke Michael
Refugee advocates have slammed a government proposal for an independent medical review panel to oversee transfers of asylum seekers, concerned it would still give bureaucrats the ultimate say over medical decisions for critically sick people.


Wednesday, 6th February 2019
at 5:21 pm
Luke Michael


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Community Groups Slam Government’s Medical Review Panel Proposal
Wednesday, 6th February 2019 at 5:21 pm

Refugee advocates have slammed a government proposal for an independent medical review panel to oversee transfers of asylum seekers, concerned it would still give bureaucrats the ultimate say over medical decisions for critically sick people.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposal was offered as a compromise to a bill from independent MP Kerryn Phelps, which would allow refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to come to Australia for medical treatment if this was recommended by two doctors.

The bill has already passed the Senate, and the government faces a humiliating defeat on the floor of Parliament next week if the opposition and the crossbench can secure enough support to win a lower house vote.

Morrison’s proposal would mimic a key component of Phelps’ bill by creating a medical transfer clinical assurance panel to oversee the Department of Home Affairs’ transfer decisions.

But while Phelps has argued that “clinicians rather than bureaucrats” should make medical decisions about transfers, the government’s proposed panel would scrutinise decisions rather than overturn them.

This has led a coalition of community groups – the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Human Rights Law Centre, GetUp, the Refugee Council of Australia, World Vision Australia and Welcoming Australia – to reject the proposal, labelling it “window dressing on the existing unconscionable process”.

In a statement, the coalition said the proposal did not make the necessary changes to ensure people in offshore detention were provided with adequate medical care.

“As it stands, politicians and bureaucrats can override doctors’ orders about treatment of sick refugees in offshore detention,” the statement said.

“[The panel] will be hand-picked by the minister, with no assurance as to the independence of its members, whereas the [Phelps] bill would provide for review of the minister’s decisions by an independent medical panel including members nominated by peak medical bodies.”

The community groups said the Phelps bill was the only enforceable mechanism that ensured people got life-saving medical treatment urgently.

Jana Favero, director of advocacy and campaigns at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said the prime minister had not provided any information on how long his panel would take to review doctor’s transfer requests.

“Will he make critically sick people wait for another three months? Or another three years?” Favero said.

“This is not a solution to the medical crisis in offshore processing, it is a last-ditch effort to divide cross bench and Labor MPs, all just to save the face of a dying government while people on Manus and Nauru continue to mentally and physically deteriorate to the point of being at risk of dying from medical neglect.”  

Brad Chilcott, the founder of Welcoming Australia, said the Phelps bill had wide support and should be endorsed by the government.

It’s supported by doctors, lawyers, humanitarian, refugee and community services organisations and hundreds of thousands of Australians,” Chilcott said.

“If Prime Minister Morrison was serious about alleviating the suffering of people in indefinite detention he would simply back this bill today and enshrine it in legislation at the first opportunity.”

If the Coalition loses a lower house vote on the bill, it would be the first time since 1929 a sitting government has lost a substantive legislative vote on the floor.

But Morrison told Sky News on Tuesday a lost vote would not compel the government to call an early election.

“If we lose that vote next week, so be it. We won’t be going off to the polls,” Morrison said.

“The election is in May. I will simply ignore it and we’ll get on with the business.”


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Government urged to reject expansion of cashless welfare card

Luke Michael

Monday, 9th September 2019 at 5:09 pm

‘It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul’: NGOs dismayed by aid budget raid

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 14th August 2019 at 5:50 pm

The refugee reality

Tim Costello

Tuesday, 30th July 2019 at 8:37 am

Hey – look over here!

David Crosbie

Wednesday, 17th July 2019 at 5:47 pm

POPULAR

Our royal commission is not yet a safe place for people with disability

Emma Bennison

Wednesday, 6th November 2019 at 4:59 pm

Disability royal commission begins amid fears around support services

Luke Michael

Monday, 4th November 2019 at 12:58 pm

Report finds NFP boards lack leadership in fundraising

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 13th November 2019 at 2:30 pm

Why Australia needs more noisy charities!

David Crosbie

Thursday, 7th November 2019 at 8:58 am

Go Salary
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!