Asylum Seeker Policy Pushed To Unthinkable Territory

The Rudd government announced a new immigration policy that has left many in the community bewildered and angry. A revised policy that worsens an existing policy that itself has been widely condemned on human rights grounds, significantly worsens the plight of desperate people who turn to Australia for help. The new policy will see asylum seekers who attempt to travel to Australia by boat sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement there.

It is timely to remind members of the position adopted by the HSU No 4 Branch AGM, which incorporates the component associations of the MSAV, VPA and AHP, on 21 September 2011. The AGM adopted a resolution which referred to Professor Patrick McGorry’s description of asylum seeker detention centres as “factories for producing mental illness.”

Significantly, the AGM resolved that:

“We, as psychologists and other health professionals, take a stand against practices that increase the incidence of mental illness in the community by calling for an end to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, and calls on the Federal Government to respect the recent High Court decision and abandon offshore processing of asylum seeker claims and adopt a policy of onshore processing only.”

In a salutary reminder of Professor McGorry’s sentiments about the damaging human impact caused by indefinite mandatory detention we witnessed on the same day as the announcement of the new asylum seeker policy unrest in the detention centre on the island of Nauru that caused massive destruction and and further hardship. It is hard to imagine why we would disregard the pleas of those indefinitely detained on Nauru in trying to make our government understand that feelings of hopelessness and despair can lead directly to desperate behavior.

In the face of the new asylum seeker policy, the MSAV, VPA and AHP for the reasons expressed at the time reiterates the call of the 2011 AGM of the HSU No 4 Branch for the Rudd government to end mandatory detention and offshore processing.

A rally against the new asylum seeker policy which will be held this Saturday 27 July at 1.00pm in front of the State Library. See details at this Facebook page.

Members are encouraged to attend.

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