The Federal Government is about to pass legislation to further punish refugees and asylum seekers currently in detention centres in Australia, says Dr Tim Woodruff, President of the advocacy group – Doctors Reform Society (DRS).
According to Dr Woodruff, the new legislation if passed through the parliament will give the government the power to take mobile phones away from refugees. It will give government more power to punish them for just seeking refuge in our country.
“Phones are a huge connection for these people, our fellow human beings, as they connect them to the world outside their detention centre. This has massive health benefits for them but the Government seems determined to further undermine their mental and physical health”, Dr Woodruff adds.
But the Government claims that the detention centres are rife with crime and believe mobile phones’removal will help fight it or control it from within.
But according to DRS, the government is ignoring the reason which is of their own making. The Government has an increasing number of detainees from the community who are awaiting deportation because they have criminal histories. DRS says that group of people is a completely different group (of criminals) to the refugees and is causing problems for both refugees and for staff.
“Why are refugees to be punished because the Government houses them with these other detainees?”, asks Dr Woodruff.
“This is a completely unnecessary attack on refugees. All the Government needs to do is separate the two vastly different groups of detainees and use stronger powers only for non refugee detainees”.
In addition there are reports that refugees and asylum seekers in Australia may be moved to the Christmas Island detention centre. This is a shocking reflection on our Federal Government. These people are human beings and deserve basic human rights but instead our government intends to expose them to the harshness of detention on Christmas Island.
“It is doing so with the full knowledge that mental health issues in that detention centre have led to self harm and even death.”
“Sadly, it would seem that demonising and dehumanising refugees and asylum seekers is the policy. It is unhealthy for them. It is unhealthy for the staff required to punish these innocent people. And it diminishes our country”, adds Dr Woodruff.
DRS sums it up saying:
`For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share’
DRS says as an organisation it is interested in the health of Australians and of all human beings.
“We plead with the Federal Government to abandon its proposals to further punish these people for seeking a better life in Australia.”