Politics

An At-Risk Refugee Child Will Be Flown To Australia, Despite The Government’s Best Efforts

It is the third time in recent months that lawyers have had to turn to the courts to secure medical treatment for young refugees.

For the third time in recent months, Federal Court action has forced Peter Dutton’s Immigration Department to bring an at-risk child refugee to Australia for urgent medical treatment.

On Saturday morning the decision was made for a mentally unwell child in Nauru’s refugee detention centre to be quickly moved to mainland Australia for medical treatment after lawyers took the Immigration Department to court.

While yesterday the government refused to grant the refugee access to Australian medical treatment, it relented just before the court hearing this morning.

The law firm representing the refugee, Maurice Blackburn, said the child has a medical report that clearly recommends she be immediately transferred from Nauru.

The firm’s head of social justice, Jennifer Kanis, said the court decision was the right one, but was frustrated that it took urgent legal action to get the government to fly the at-risk refugee to Australia.

“We’re delighted the government has this morning agreed to bring our client from Nauru to Australia so that she can get the medical attention she so desperately needs,” Kanis said today.

Last night, Kanis explained that the government had refused the initial request.

“An urgent request was made today to immigration minister Peter Dutton and the Department of Immigration to have our client [taken] off Nauru immediately for treatment, but the government have not agreed to this request,” she said.

Kanis continued: “This leaves us with no option but to seek the intervention of the court, and tonight we have filed interlocutory proceedings in the Federal Court seeking orders to remove our client from Nauru for medical treatment, with the matter now set to be heard by the court tomorrow morning.”

The child has tried to take her life three times, and lawyers were concerned that she may try to do so again.

It is the third time in recent months that lawyers have had to turn to the courts to secure medical treatment for young refugees.

In March, a 10-year-old refugee held on Nauru who required psychological help was granted access to Australia. The judge presiding over that case said that the child would have been at imminent risk of dying if left in the detention centre.

In December last year, a young girl was moved for similar reasons. She had been on Nauru since 2013 and her parents had separated since then.

In addition to these three cases, last year The Guardian reported that almost 50 refugees and asylum seekers had been denied medical transfers from Nauru, including three pregnant women.

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