Majority of paediatricians believe jailing children is abuse

THE majority of Australian paediatricians believe mandatory detention of asylum seeker children is child abuse, but have poor knowledge of health screening and the Medicare eligibility of such children.

Research to be published in the Medical Journal of Australia posed a questionnaire to 139 Australian paediatricians. It revealed that more than 80% disagreed with mandatory detention of children and offshore processing.

But less than half knew which subgroups of asylum seeker children were eligible for Medicare or had undergone pre-departure HIV and tuberculosis screening.

Report co-author professor David Isaacs said members of the profession were lacking knowledge on the subject.

"Medicare rights are held by all refugees and by asylum seekers who hold bridging visas to which such rights are attached," he said.

"Poor knowledge of hospital fee-waiver programs could limit access to hospital care … and health professionals might not be referring asylum seekers as they otherwise would."

"Better knowledge of the pre-visa screening process may help to avoid duplications or omissions and thereby minimise financial and time burdens for patients and their paediatricians."

Australian health care professionals needed better training and education about asylum seekers' rights and processes in order to provide the best health care possible, the researchers concluded. - APN NEWSDESK