The Time for a Home alliance welcomes the Morrison Government listening to the community and releasing Medevac Refugees

Media Release

20 January 2021

The Time for a Home alliance of 136 organisations and community networks understands that 26 Medevac refugees are being released today from the Melbourne Park Hotel Alternative Place of Detention (APOD).

Australian Border Force is taking people from the Park Hotel APOD to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) first to collect their property and told they will be released from there. Three people are confirmed to have been released from MITA into the community now.

The Time for a Home alliance welcomes the release of people after seven years of medical neglect and harmful indefinite detention.

Around 150 people still remain held indefinitely in a network of detention facilities across Australia and continue to suffer deteriorating mental and physical health.

People were transferred under the Medevac laws in 2019 to access doctor recommended medical care, but have been detained and forcibly transferred around detention facilities across Australia for more than a year.

Medical and legal bodies, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman, service organisations and community networks warned of COVID-19 health risks, harmful conditions and a severe lack of oversight into the care and treatment of refugees inside detention facilities.

The Time for a Home alliance calls on the Morrison Government to release all 200 people they detained upon their arrival in Australia for medical treatment so they can access community support and independent medical care to recover their health.

The Morrison Government must reveal its plan for a permanent resettlement solution after seven years of abject policy failure, medical neglect and the loss of many lives under its shameful, inhumane offshore processing and indefinite detention policies.

Marie Selstrom at Rural Australians for Refugees: “Rural Australians for Refugees are so delighted to see justice and freedom at long last for the men being released today. We look forward to all 200, as well those remaining in offshore processing being free. Many people seeking asylum and refugees are part of rural communities and we call on the Morrison Government to urgently take up New Zealand’s offer to resettle people or give them a permanent home in Australia.”

Dr Sara Townend at Independent Doctors Network: “It is a relief to see the Australian government release individuals who were transferred for medical care.  Closed detention is not an appropriate setting for mental and physical recovery which can now begin.  We wish the 26 individuals well, and call for further releases.’

Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: “Doctors, lawyers, service providers and the wider community have long called for the release of Medevac refugees from harmful conditions in indefinite detention and today the Federal Government finally is listening to reason. We call on the Government to immediately release all 200 people  so that they can recover their health safely in the community, where they are supported and welcomed.”

David Burke, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre: “These releases show there is no reason for the Morrison Government to have locked up any of these men in detention. These people – who were brought here after already enduring six years of offshore detention – have lost another year of their lives simply because the Government did not like the Medevac laws. There was no point to their detention. Prime Minister Morrison must act to urgently release all of the remaining people so they can begin to rebuild their lives in safety.”

Sarah Dale, Centre Director and Principal Solicitor, Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS): “We are incredibly relieved to see more people released from detention and finally experiencing some sense of freedom. But we know this will never alleviate the many years lost or the inexplicable suffering they have endured. It’s beyond time that this sense of freedom was felt by all and we again call on the Government to make urgent systemic change. We will never accept a policy that allows for the indefinite detention of vulnerable people seeking protection.”

Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Rights Advisor, Amnesty International Australia: “This is very exciting news and is hopefully just the beginning, with 200 refugees locked up in Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, they should never have been detained in the first place. What the government doesn’t explain is why the vast majority of refugees brought back to Australia for medical treatment are able to live safely and freely in the community, while the Medevac group has remained locked up. It is just petty, cruel politics and should end immediately.”


For interviews and more information call Marcella Brassett on 0411 026 142


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