Informed, engaged communities for health

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
ACSQHC series
Lowitja knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#bettercareseries
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
ACSQHC series 2019
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021
Support non-profit public interest journalism
Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
ACSQHC series
Lowitja knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#bettercareseries
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
ACSQHC series 2019
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021

“I cry at the suffering that does not need to be”: Bearing witness to harsh asylum seeker policies

Introduction by Croakey: Despite working in psychiatry for 20 years, Dr Emma Adams wasn’t prepared for what she saw when she first went as a volunteer observer to a detention centre for asylum seekers in Darwin, where mothers and children were trapped in utter despair.

She made up her mind to take action at a personal level and to bear witness as a professional.

“This is how we can change hearts and minds,” Adams told this week’s Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) annual meeting in Cairns.

That visit to Darwin led to Adams, an Aboriginal woman, and her husband welcoming two young Afghan boys into their family and to the publication late last year of Unbreakable Threads: The true story of an Australian mother, a refugee boy and the real meaning of family.

Australia’s widely condemned policies on asylum seekers have not dominated the federal election campaign as they looked set to do in March when Prime Minister Scott Morrison re-opened – at a cost of $185 million – the Christmas Island detention centre in response to medevac legislation, which he opposed, that makes it easier for sick refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to seek medical transfers.

But there is little doubt they will play a role in how people vote, with the ABC’s Vote Compass survey showing that views on whether boats carrying asylum seekers should be turned back have “barely shifted since it was a top-order issue in the 2013 election”.

Labor is in lock step with the Coalition on boat turnbacks and refusing entry ever for those on Nauru and Manus, but its broader policies deviate from Coalition policy in significant ways, says Melbourne University academic Dr Claire Loughnan in this useful analysis.

That includes Labor’s promise to abolish Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs), addressing the state of limbo and extensive hardship for refugees and asylum seekers living in community, often without means of support, housing and services – among important moves “towards fulfilling the spirit and aims of the Refugee Convention”, Loughnan says.

Australian medical and health groups, including the RANZCP, have spoken out against  mandatory detention of asylum seekers and warned about the human rights and mental health toll of Australia’s policies.

Adams’ presentation to the congress, which is published as a #LongRead below as part of our coverage of #RANZCP2019, graphically describes that toll and reminds us of the need to step up advocacy and action as Australia heads to the polls tomorrow.


Emma Adams writes:

We are on Yidinji  land. Each time I come here I’m grateful, because I’ve been nurtured by this place. Mandaangguwu. I pay my respects to the Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people here.

Despite all that has happened in the last 230 years, Aboriginal people remain generous and openhearted. Make no mistake, this is and always will be Aboriginal land. Sovereignty has never been ceded. I would like us all to acknowledge this, thinking deeply about reconciliation and respect. And in this spirit, consider those who have sought safety on our shores.

Five years ago, I went as a volunteer observer to check on the wellbeing of mums and bubs in Darwin’s immigration detention centres. I expected this trip to be confronting. Mothers and children kept behind bars always is.

But even as a psychiatrist with 20 years experience, nothing prepared me for what I saw.

The atmosphere in the supposedly family-friendly version of these detention centres was suffocating. All had high wire fences, one called Wickham even had a double 10 metre high electrified fence and prison-style airlock gates. I witnessed people called by their boat numbers rather than their names. Every mother I saw was suffering and all the children I saw were distressed. All of them.

I saw mothers sitting unresponsive to their own children, lost in their own misery. One woman told me about their escape across the Indian Ocean, seemingly oblivious to her little girl weeping beside her, ‘it would have been better if we were eaten by sharks’ she said.

I saw a child aged a little over a year sitting in a sandpit, all alone. In no culture is it normal for babies to be left by themselves like that. This baby’s face was blank and his dark eyes stared into space as he repeatedly flicked the handle of a brightly coloured plastic bucket.

The child in front of me was not playing. He was helpless; he couldn’t run away or fight this abandonment, and since there was no one around to help soothe his distress he had become frozen.

Crossing the line on humanity

Here, in Australia, was a profoundly abnormal situation.

These were families in prison. They had broken no laws by fleeing to the first country that was a signatory to the UN refugee convention and now they were being treated worse than convicted criminals.

In the real Australian world outside, I’d be recommending these depressed women and their babies be removed from this dangerous situation and offered intensive psychological treatment. Here, that would not happen.

This isn’t politics. There is a line regarding humane and inhumane treatment of people. And this line had well and truly been crossed.

I was anguished from what I had seen. And angry. And felt so powerless.

What could I do as just one doctor, when all the other medical bodies including our own college, were being ignored?

By chance perhaps, I met a 16 year old boy called Abdul. He was an unaccompanied child, sent to Australia to escape persecution and threats against his life. He was Hazara, an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan who have been targeted by the Taliban and now ISIS with bombings, kidnappings and murders.

I remember that Abdul had worn a clean white t-shirt that almost glowed…he stood straight…and perhaps a little defiant (for sure, a lot defiant), when so many other people there were broken.

After a while he asked me ‘am I going to die soon?’…… He thought he would because his heart would suddenly beat uncontrollably and his whole body would shake when he remembered the bomb explosion in Kabul he had nearly died in.

The one thing about Abdul’s stance was that he held onto his right elbow with his left hand. This was because he had a chronically dislocating shoulder. Abdul was concerned that his mum, still living in Afghanistan, would worry if she found out he needed surgery.

That’s why he was in Darwin and hadn’t been shipped out to Nauru like most of his friends. At the time I thought to myself, ‘oh bub, they’re not going to tell your mum you’re having surgery, they don’t care about her… Or you’

I knew by the way Abdul spoke about his family that he was a much-loved child. I thought about the agonising decision his mother made to send her boy to safety. If I was in her place, I would want someone to look out for my children. But Abdul, like the others in detention, now faced a hopeless fate and wasted years in limbo.

Wouldn’t any teenager be better off staying with a family rather than locked behind a wire fence?

The government ignored my proposition of having Abdul move in with us. The then Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison was not going to let any of the children out of detention unless his infamous ‘fast track’ and temporary protection visas bill were passed.

Unless Morrison had his bill passed, he made it very clear, the children would stay locked up… they were being held to ransom.

Unless I could do something, I knew that the next stop for Abdul would be the detention centre in Nauru, an ominous, secretive place, and from where, some very horrible stories were beginning to leak out.

In 2014, we found out that Abdul had a brother Ahad who arrived earlier as an unaccompanied minor, before the offshore detention system was set up. When I invited Ahad to visit us for the school holidays, I didn’t know he was so young, and when he responded to my invitation, ‘I would love to be near a family again’, my heart melted. We found out that he wasn’t doing too well either and having this quiet, sweet boy with us, solidified our resolve.

From the outset my husband Rob and I thought deeply about how having two refugee brothers living with us would affect our family. As mums and dads, we only ever get one chance with our kids’ childhoods – there’s no rewind button.

Rob and I had our fair share of ‘tut-tut’s from others about not trusting Muslim people or ‘illegals’. Of course we expected difficulties but more importantly, we saw having Abdul and Ahad as enriching all of us. We wanted our children to see that ethics are not just a mouthing of intentions but doing – and that often the doing is hard.

Where is the outcry

I wish I could tell you now  how difficult 2014 was for Abdul (who spent a total of 501 days in detention), and also tell you of the beautiful family moments we have shared together since (they’re in the book).  Magically, what we needed and what has grown is love; the courageous, unbreakable love of family.

There isn’t a fairy tale ending, I’m sorry, and life for Abdul is still not easy. I wish I could say to him, ‘you’re safe now, and you can make dreams for your future like my other boys.’ But we both know this isn’t true. His stay in Australia is precarious under the temporary visa system, and Abdul could still be sent back to Afghanistan where his life remains at risk.

I started writing this book as an insurance policy for Abdul, thinking that the more people who knew our story, the safer Abdul will be. But not just Abdul…..

Of course not just Abdul. With all of this focus on the predicament of those refugees offshore,  it is very important to remember the refugees and asylum seekers who are in Australia and doing it tough.

I want to talk about Australia’s offshore situation too. Our government hides asylum seekers and refugees offshore in a veil of secrecy. They paint the picture of these people fleeing persecution as threats, as ‘illegals’ to help them win their electoral seats out of fear. And in this created fear, the most cruel decisions have been made.

I’m so angry when I hear that a 12 year old girl, who had been on Nauru since she was 7, had tried to set herself on fire in her depression and hopelessness. And she’s not the only one. What if this little girl was one of our kids? Why is she seen as not deserving of decency or kindness? Where is the outcry?

These are the things that I’ve seen time and time again in the notes from International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), the private provider of health services to the Nauru detention centre, that have been given to me.

Referring to people their boat numbers or as a ‘detainee’ in their clinical notes when a name is allowed is a denial of a shared humanity. Significant illness is mis-labelled as ‘behavioural’, meaning that people are punished rather than treated.

A person’s  punctuality, cooperativeness, compliance, politeness and calmness is focused on rather than the biological, psychological and social aspects to their presentation. And for the sake of proving that a conversation took place, for no clinical reason, a patient’s personal and political views are recorded on file, placing them at risk, both for immigration and especially their safety in Nauru.

Reviewing these reports for the High Court has been harrowing and after each, though I give my opinion in a clinical, dispassionate way, I cry at the suffering that does not have to be.

Using our voices

I’m tired. I don’t want to fight anymore. All I can do now is push my book.

I want to change the narrative, and after so many stories of cruelty, I want to give our story of hope and strength and the message that it’s okay to be kind.

What has writing this book done? Well at first, I was worried, because there is a lot of racist violence out there. I closed my private practice (for a number of reasons) but a major one was the exposure and isolation increasing risk for me. My name was on the door and anyone could walk in.

The feedback I’ve had has been uplifting. People tell me that they read it in one night, because it was easy to read and they couldn’t put it down. People have said to me that I’ve changed their thinking about asylum seekers and refugees…through their hearts.

That’s the power of stories. I strongly believe that Australians want to be kind…it’s just that politicians have cynically manufactured the fear that has overruled the rational and the empathic parts of us as a nation.

Regardless, what I want to say is, that we can have powerful voices as individuals, even when the government and the media are ignoring our peak bodies. There is a field known as arts-activism. As psychiatrists, we are skilled at listening and remembering stories. And this is how we can change hearts and minds.

Dr Emma Adams is a psychiatrist specialising in the wellbeing of mothers and babies. An Aboriginal woman, she was born in Sydney and grew up in the country town of Armidale in New South Wales.  She studied medicine at the University of Queensland and a few years later met her husband Rob when romance blossomed between trauma calls in the emergency department of the Canberra Hospital. They have three teenage sons and live in Canberra.

You can also read this article from the Medical Journal of Australia written in 2014 by Adams and Professor Caroline de Costa.

Bookmark this link to follow our continuing coverage of #RANZCP2019.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search by: Categories or tags

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
ACSQHC series
Healthdirect Australia series 2019
Lowitja knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
Testing Croakey News category 1
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards