Home Affairs couldn’t provide the evidence to support the department’s claims that asylum seekers are using self-harm as an instant way to be transferred to Australia after the implementation of Medevac bill.
On Monday, a Senate committee inquired the Medevac legislation, with doctors, asylum seekers advocates and lawyers arguing for the process to remain.
Peter Dutton, the Minister of Home Affairs has claimed that the law passed before the election enabled asylum seekers to self-harm at a higher level than normal as it was considered to be the quickest way to be transferred to Australia.
In its submission to the investigation, the Department of Home Affairs registered its concerns that self-harm is considered as the most convenient way of getting medical transfer to Australia since the medevac law implementation.
According to Major General Craig Furini, the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, the department had got to know those asylum seekers, especially those in PNG, are convincing others to self-harm for being transferred to Australia.
Greens senator Nick McKim challenged him to provide the evidence to prove the assertion that self-harm was perceived as the expedient means for medical transfer to Australia.
Craig Furini responded that he would present evidence to prove his claim but couldn’t provide evidence to the committee on Monday 26.
Earlier in the day, doctors helping to prepare Medevac applications dismissed the concerns by the Home Affairs.
Dr. Neela Janakiramanan explained the committee:
“We’ve read six years of medical notes … mental health has normal ebbs and flows, we see this in the Australian community.”
Ex independent MP Kerryn Lyndel Phelps described the department’s assertion as an “outrageous assertion”. She stated:
“These individuals are suffering. They’re not trying to make a point; they’re trying to kill themselves because they’ve lost hope.”
Under the medevac bill, Peter Dutton, the Home Affairs Minister, will consider a request for a refugee for being transferred to Australia for medical treatment on the recommendation of two doctors.
The Minister can reject the request on national security grounds but if he refuses it for medical reasons, then the case will be referred to a panel organized of government and independent doctors.