Australia took a backward and inhumane step when it comes to basic human rights with the repeal of the Medevac Bill, World Vision’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Andrew White said today.
The bill passed in February after a sustained campaign by Australia’s doctors, lawyers and humanitarians. It was designed to protect the physical and psychological health of asylum seekers after seven years of a harsh and shameful offshore detention policy.
Last year, World Vision, along with a coalition of humanitarian and refugee agencies, campaigned for the removal of kids in detention as part of the #KidsOffNauru campaign.
“When the Medevac Bill passed, it was not about left or right, it was about right and wrong,” Mr White said.
Mr White said that our political leaders now needed to reach an urgent permanent resettlement solution in the best interests of refugees.
“I encourage our political leaders to think about the families and children that have faced seven years of uncertainty and limbo. The majority of those in offshore detention have been found to be genuine refugees, and our political leaders need to come to a new agreement to resettle them, rather than denying them medical care.”
“As an international humanitarian organisation that works with refugee families in some of the most complex conflicts globally, we understand the uncertain and extreme challenges they face. This was a law for refugees that got the balance between compassion and safety right.”
“Let’s remember why there was a need for this legislation,” Mr White said.
“Before Medevac, people who were seriously ill faced extended and dangerous waits for treatment,” he said.
“The repeal of the ‘Medevac’ Bill signals a return to unnecessary suffering and a permanent resettlement pathway for all those refugees in detention is now desperately needed.”