The need for a rights-based public health approach to Australian asylum seeker health

Durham, Jo, Brolan, Claire E., Lui, Chi-Wai and Whittaker, Maxine (2016) The need for a rights-based public health approach to Australian asylum seeker health. Public Health Reviews, 37 6: 6. doi:10.1186/s40985-016-0020-9


Author Durham, Jo
Brolan, Claire E.
Lui, Chi-Wai
Whittaker, Maxine
Title The need for a rights-based public health approach to Australian asylum seeker health
Journal name Public Health Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0301-0422
2107-6952
Publication date 2016-08-22
Year available 2016
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1186/s40985-016-0020-9
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 37
Issue 6
Start page 6
Total pages 24
Place of publication Rennes, France
Publisher Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sante Publique (E H E S P) Presses
Language eng
Subject 2905 Community and Home Care
2739 Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
Abstract Public health professionals have a responsibility to protect and promote the right to health amongst populations, especially vulnerable and disenfranchised groups, such as people seeking asylum and whose health care is frequently compromised. As at 31 March 2016, there was a total of 3707 people (including 384 children) in immigration detention facilities or community detention in Australia, with 431 of them detained for more than 2 years. The Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association assert that people seeking asylum in Australia have a right to health in the same way as Australian citizens, and they denounce detention of such people in government facilities for prolonged and indeterminate periods of time. The position of these two professional organisations is consistent with the compelling body of evidence demonstrating the negative impact detention has on health. Yet in recent years, both the Labour and Liberal parties-when at the helm of Australia's Federal Government-have implemented a suite of regressive policies toward individuals seeking asylum. This has involved enforced legal restrictions on dissenting voices of those working with these populations, including health professionals. This paper outlines Australia's contemporary offshore immigration detention policy and practices. It summarises evidence on asylum seeker health in detention centres and describes the government's practice of purposeful silencing of health professionals. The authors examine how Australia's treatment of asylum seekers violates their health rights. Based on these analyses, the authors call for concrete action to translate the overwhelming body of evidence on the deleterious impacts of immigration detention into ethical policy and pragmatic interventions. To this end, they provide four recommendations for action.
Formatted abstract
Public health professionals have a responsibility to protect and promote the right to health amongst populations, especially vulnerable and disenfranchised groups, such as people seeking asylum and whose health care is frequently compromised. As at 31 March 2016, there was a total of 3707 people (including 384 children) in immigration detention facilities or community detention in Australia, with 431 of them detained for more than 2 years. The Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Medical Association assert that people seeking asylum in Australia have a right to health in the same way as Australian citizens, and they denounce detention of such people in government facilities for prolonged and indeterminate periods of time. The position of these two professional organisations is consistent with the compelling body of evidence demonstrating the negative impact detention has on health. Yet in recent years, both the Labour and Liberal parties—when at the helm of Australia’s Federal Government—have implemented a suite of regressive policies toward individuals seeking asylum. This has involved enforced legal restrictions on dissenting voices of those working with these populations, including health professionals. This paper outlines Australia’s contemporary offshore immigration detention policy and practices. It summarises evidence on asylum seeker health in detention centres and describes the government’s practice of purposeful silencing of health professionals. The authors examine how Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers violates their health rights. Based on these analyses, the authors call for concrete action to translate the overwhelming body of evidence on the deleterious impacts of immigration detention into ethical policy and pragmatic interventions. To this end, they provide four recommendations for action.
Keyword Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Public Health Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 2 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Thu, 01 Sep 2016, 02:34:27 EST by Dr Chi-Wai Lui on behalf of School of Public Health