Melbourne Royal Children's Hospital doctors refuse to send children back to detention camps

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Israeli police detain a Palestinian youth following clashes after Friday prayers in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz October 24, 2014. Tension in Jerusalem rose on Wednesday after an Israeli baby died and eight other people were hurt when a Palestinian man slammed his car into pedestrians at a Jerusalem light railway stop. Police shot the driver as he fled. A hospital official said the driver later died of his injuries. Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

Doctors and medical staff from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s hospital are seeking help from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to prevent sick children treated by the hospital from being sent back to detention camps.

Medical staff are also asking the government to stop putting children in camps. Some children have spent half of their lives in detention and are exposed to physical, mental, emotional and social trauma that are severe. Many of these patients have no hope of  improvements should they be discharged back to detention, an opinion piece on the Herald Sun noted.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr. Stephen Parnis said that children should be detained for no longer than three days. Going beyond the prescribed number of days makes a child prone to mental illness and depression. He added that it is only logical to remove these children from an "unnatural environment."

Circumstances around doctors treating detained children are legally and ethically complicated, Parnis told Guardian Australia.

Under the Border Force Act, which was passed in May, health workers can face up to two years in prison for speaking out against conditions in detention centres. Despite this government provision, the hospital’s chairman Rob Knowles is backing his staff members' decision. Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy also offered her support, saying that she is proud of the staff for prioritising the interest of the children.

Despite pleas made for children in detention centres to be released, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would not support a change in government policy. Dutton told the Herald Sun that while he understood the Melbourne doctors' concerns, "the Defence and Border Force staff on our vessels who were pulling dead kids out of the water don't want the boats to restart."

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