Sunday 8 December 2019

Asylum baby stand-off between doctors and Australian government ends

Australia's government has taken a tough line on asylum seekers from the Middle East and Asia
Australia's government has taken a tough line on asylum seekers from the Middle East and Asia

An Australian-born baby from an asylum-seeking family from Nepal was discharged from a Brisbane hospital after a 10-day stand-off between medical staff and the government.

They were at odds over whether the baby should be sent back with her parents to the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

Baby Asha was flown 2,100 miles from an Australian-run immigration camp on Nauru to a hospital in Brisbane in late January for treatment for scalding burns from hot water.

She was treated at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, but doctors said on February 12 they would not discharge her if she was to be immediately sent back to Nauru.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton said on Monday that Asha had been released from the hospital to live temporarily with her parents in private rental accommodation paid for by the government.

He said they were in community detention, which usually means asylum seekers are able to move freely in the community but must reside at a designated address every night.

The government still intends to send the family back to Nauru after a court hears their challenge against deportation, Mr Dutton said.

"We are not going to allow the message to get out that people can come to Nauru, come to Australia for medical assistance, and that will be their ticket out into Australian society - that is not going to happen," he told Nine Network television.

The family is among 267 asylum seekers facing deportation to Nauru after travelling to Australia for medical treatment or to support a sick relative.

Hundreds of protesters calling for Australia to accept these asylum seekers have maintained a vigil outside the hospital since the doctors announced they would not send Asha back to Nauru.

Australia has all but stopped asylum seekers from the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach its shores on boats from Indonesia in the past three years by refusing to allow them to ever settle in Australia.

They are sent to immigration camps on Nauru and Australia's closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea.

PA Media

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