Doctors speak out over detainees

DOCTORS and the government appear at loggerheads over Australia’s mandatory detention policy as the High Court prepares to rule this week on whether the government can go ahead with plans to ship detainees to Malaysia.

Almost two-thirds of the 76 respondents to an MO online poll last week agreed with AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton that mandatory detention should be scrapped and used only as a last resort. But immigration minister Chris Bowen maintained the policy was an “essential aspect of border control”.

Dr Hambleton was roundly criticised by both major political parties over his speech to a recent AMA parliamentary dinner last month, in which he described mandatory detention as “inherently harmful to the physical and mental health of detainees”.

The association’s position statement on health care of asylum seekers and refugees, redrafted and released last week, called for those living in the community to have