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Medical Evacuation Response Group established for urgent medical transfers from Manus and Nauru

Monday, March 4 2019

Medical Evacuation Response Group established for urgent medical transfers from Manus and Nauru

Key national organisations have banded together to oversee and ensure the timely and orderly assessment of applications for medical transfers under the “Medevac Bill” by creating the Medical Evacuation Response Group (Medevac Group).

The Medevac Group is made up of specialists in medevac processes for sick refugees including doctors, caseworkers, counsellors and lawyers who will work together to ensure access to medical evacuations under the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) bill. The bill is expected to become law this week.

The Medevac Group is independent of the Australian Government and will ensure that critically sick people are able to be flown to Australia for urgent and critical medical care that is otherwise unavailable on Nauru or Manus Island.

The Medevac Group has created a referral process that allows people on Nauru and Manus Island to be triaged by medical professionals and supported by caseworkers. If the patient requires medical care that is not available on the islands, the group can recommend medical transfers.

The Medevac Group includes the following organisations who will work directly with medical professionals: Refugee Council of Australia, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Human Rights Law Centre, Refugee Legal, National Justice Project, Asylum Seekers Centre, Refugee Advice & Casework Service, and Amnesty International Australia.

The mental and physical health of those detained offshore has continued to rapidly deteriorate due to medical neglect and grossly inadequate facilities.

The Medevac Group process will be led and informed by the expertise of doctors and medical specialists. This process will ensure that medical need and appropriate care is prioritised in to order to save lives.

Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia said:

“Millions of Australians support the Medevac legislation out of their concern for the welfare of people held on Manus and Nauru who are not able to get access to the critical medical and mental health care they need.”

“Our goal is to work together with anyone who is prepared to work constructively for practical answers for those most at risk.”

Jana Favero, Director Advocacy and Campaigns, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said:

“Hours, days, months and years have gone into fighting for medical care for those held on Manus and Nauru. The medical transfer system was highly politicised, with the Government fighting transfers every step of the way and endangering lives.”

“This is why the Medevac bill was so important and we are proud to work together to ensure sick people get the urgent medical care they need.”

Dr Sara Townend said:

“It’s important that there is an equitable system with medical need as its focus. Doctors are best placed to assess the nature of health needs for patients and what treatment the patient will require.”

“In the past, medical requests for transfer have been diluted by bureaucratic obstruction and political agenda.”

Further information on the Medevac group: www.merg.org.au

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