Children and families in immigration detention is a health emergency: NZ paediatricians
4 October 2018
The Paediatric Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) stands with The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the
Australian Medical Association, and 180 other organisations in calls to end the practices of children and their families
being held in offshore immigration centres by the Australian Government.
“Children and families on Nauru are living in an environment of overwhelming uncertainty,” said Dr Tim Jelleyman, PSNZ
President. “Experiencing immigration detention for prolonged periods is extremely damaging all people, but it is
particularly so for children – there is compelling evidence that this will continue to impact their health and wellbeing
for the rest of their lives”.
By holding children and families in immigration centres, the Australian Government is operating counter to its
obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
, including the right to good quality health care, clean water, and nutritious food.
“We know that children on Nauru are experiencing high levels of psychological stress. They are self-harming, refusing to
eat, and are showing signs of resignation syndrome, where they will become extremely withdrawn as a response to the
trauma they are exposed to every day,” Dr Jelleyman said.
“The children and families of Nauru need to be provided urgent multidisciplinary, specialist assessments of their
physical and mental health and wellbeing, and then wrap-around treatments that respond to their physical, mental and
emotional health needs.”
Dr Jeff Brown RACP NZ President agreed, stating “children must not be separated from their whānau – we call on the
Australian Government to keep families together, so they can support one another’s health, wellbeing and ongoing
The PSNZ calls for all asylum seeker and refugee children and their families on Nauru to be brought to Australia and
receive access to healthcare and safe environment as a matter of urgency by International Children’s Day, 20 November
About The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP): The RACP trains, educates and advocates on behalf of over 17,000 physicians and 8,000 trainee physicians across
Australia and New Zealand.
The RACP trains physicians, often referred to as specialists, in more than 33 medical specialities
Beyond the drive for medical excellence, the RACP is committed to developing health and social policies which bring
vital improvements to the wellbeing of patients.www.racp.edu.au
About the Paediatric Society of New Zealand (PSNZ): PSNZ is a membership organisation of health professionals working to progress the health and wellbeing of
children/tamariki and young people/rangatahi throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand.
PSNZ believes all children and young people have the right to attain optimal physical, mental and social health and
wellbeing. By working as a co-ordinated national network of health professionals the Society dedicates its efforts and
resources to this end. http://www.paediatrics.org.nz/