RAR welcomes medevac

Local refugee rights advocates are welcoming last week’s historic medevac vote in federal parliament but say more needs to be done to treat those seeking asylum in Australia humanely.
Rural Australians for Refugees Castlemaine members are welcoming the historic medical evacuations legislation that establishes new conditions by which sick people on Nauru and Manus Island can be transferred to Australia for medical treatment – giving medical specialists more power in the matter.
The medevac bill allows for the transfer of asylum seekers or refugees for medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment.
“It’s a first step towards a more humane policy,” the local group’s Ellen O’Gallagher says.
“But once they are evacuated for treatment they are still held in detention and still treated without due regard for their rights as people.
“They are not released into the community once they receive treatment. They are put into various forms of detention and they are taken to see doctors handcuffed,” Ms O’Gallagher said.
“It’s a first step towards a more humane policy but yes we will continue to hold our Wednesday afternoon vigils from 4.30 to 5.30 calling for humane treatment of refugees both onshore and offshore – treating them like human beings, listening to what they say, believing them when they say they live in a country that will torture them or kill them.”
Group members like Wes Campbell agree last week’s historic medevac outcome is just a step toward the more humane approach they hope to see.
“I think it’s a really good step,” he says.
“It recognises that there’s been mistreatment of refugees to this point.
“I think in the future it’s still necessary to accept what the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has established and that is that most people have a right to be accepted as refugees and that needs to happen as quickly as possible so they can then be settled in a place permanently.
“I think the vigil indicates that there’s an ongoing concern in the community.
“People don’t necessarily know quite what to do, but when they come and see the vigil they thank us.”

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