19 December 2013

Federal Government’s decision to disband the Immigration Health Advisory Group shunned by the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is disappointed at the Federal Government’s sudden announcement to disband the Immigration Health Advisory Group (IHAG), effective immediately.

The RACGP was represented on the IHAG by Dr Gillian Singleton, a GP with a special interest in asylum seeker health.

RACGP Vice President, Associate Professor Frank Jones, said as the number of people seeking asylum in Australia continues to rise, so too does the importance for adequate and appropriate health care.

“The formation of the IHAG was a vital step taken by the Government, given the unique concerns of asylum seekers settling in Australia, particularly with such a high incidence of mental health issues.

“The IHAG had obvious positive potential to best inform the appropriate clinical care for these vulnerable populations, some who suffer from multiple health concerns.

“The Government, through this announcement, has undermined its responsibility to provide people seeking asylum with quality healthcare suited to their specific needs,” said A/Prof Jones.

The RACGP has recently endorsed the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP) statement on the health of people seeking asylum and believes a plan for the health of these populations can only be achieved with the clinical input from a range of medical specialists.

This endorsement serves as a commitment by the RACGP to ensure the Government adheres to its international obligations to respect health as a basic human right and undertake appropriate measures to adhere to supporting the health of people seeking asylum in Australia.

The RACGP will be presenting a formal submission to the Federal Government on the disbanding of the IHAG.

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