DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE MEDIA RELEASE
September 1, 2018
Doctors for Justice Calls for Immediate Amnesty for Children & Families on Nauru
Doctors for Justice Convenor Professor Louise Newman AM spoke out today after reports that the President of Nauru has
accused refugee advocates of encouraging children to self-harm on Nauru.
“I reject any suggestions that refugee advocates were to blame for children self harming on Nauru.” Professor Newman
“The crisis of mental illness amongst children on Nauru is real. Children are repeatedly attempting suicide by lethal
means. There has been a disturbing rise in cases of Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome (TWS) also known as Resignation
“These conditions are increasing as a direct result of prolonged detention, limited access to child and adolescent
mental health care, and severe stress in families. Children are at the end of their capacity to withstand the trauma of
this situation.” Dr Newman added.
“Conditions such as TWS are a response to severe trauma and have been described in other countries amongst asylum seeker
and refugee children. It is a sign that the situation on Nauru is unsafe and damaging.”
“These conditions, which can involve a state of coma and life-threatening starvation, cannot be encouraged or induced. “
“To dismiss the serious nature of mental illness in children is dangerous as well as morally unconscionable.”
“What is needed is an urgent response to this unsustainable situation and an immediate amnesty for children and families
to access appropriate medical and psychiatric treatment.”
Doctors will continue to speak out about these cases.
The Director of the National Justice Project, George Newhouse, said “that the President of Nauru was not qualified to
make medical assessments and that his approach to children with diagnosed illnesses was putting their lives at risk.”
DOCTORS FOR JUSTICE
Doctors for Justice is a coalition of medical practitioners, nurses, allied and mental health professionals and human
rights experts seeking to promote safe access and best practice health care for all, regardless of race, religion, age,
disability, gender or location.
NATIONAL JUSTICE PROJECT
The National Justice Project is a not for profit legal service. We combine strategic legal action with effective
advocacy to advance human rights and social justice in Australia and in the Pacific Region. www.justice.org.au