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#BringThemHere – we will help

An Australian not-for-profit health and aged care organisation has reaffirmed its willingness to provide medical support and healthcare to asylum seekers currently held in offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) has lent its voice to the #BringThemHere campaign, which calls for people in offshore detention to be evacuated and for those unsuccessful in being resettled in the United States to be transferred and housed in Australia.

Toby Hall, chief executive of St Vincent’s Health, said the group’s hospitals have a history supporting the health needs of people seeking asylum through the delivery of primary healthcare and free diagnostic services.

“Our experience providing care to asylum seekers in the community is that mental health issues represent the highest burden of disease and antidepressants are the highest prescribed medication in this population,” Hall said, adding the situation is much worse in offshore detention centres.

“Medical experts with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees who visited Manus Island and Nauru last year found alarming rates of mental health problems in people who have been held there for the last four years. They found that 88 per cent of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island were suffering from a depressive or anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. These rates were considered far in excess of comparable populations such as refugees resettled in Australia or asylum seekers in the Australian community.

“We cannot ignore the body of clinical and research evidence about the detrimental effects of holding people indefinitely in detention,” Hall said.

Group mission leader Lisa McDonald’s explanation of SVHA’s decision to offer healthcare and medical support to people currently held on Manus and Nauru is simple: it’s the right thing to do.

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