RISE eX-detainees Statement : 18/02/2021
The eX-detainee Refugee community demands the Australian Government and Medical advisory groups include us in the vaccine priority list.

The eX-detainee community in Australia is ONE of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia and subjected to systemic oppression and abuse. eX-detainees are also one of the most immunocompromised and vulnerable cohorts of people in the Australian community.

The eX-detainee community urges the Australian Government, relevant medical advisory bodies to include us and our immediate household family members, also vulnerable by their proximity to us, in the vaccine rollout plan in Australia ‘Phase 1B and Phase 2B’.

The Australian government must ask itself- what is the lifespan of eX-detainee community members after detention? Suicide rates? Chronic health conditions? Kidney failure and heart disease is rife in our communities. How many have been permanently disabled by the detention system?

It is only after someone can provide credible and comprehensive data relating to this that we can accept that our community is fully “functional and healthy” or “thriving” in Australia. At the moment, from direct interaction with our communities RISE can confirm that chronic health conditions are present in the majority of our members and far more prevalent than in the broader community.

Since we arrived in Australia and were forcibly detained, our agency and participation in our health care has been removed by the so-called “humanitarian” system in Australia. Many of us don’t know what we have been diagnosed with or that we have a medical condition or that our detention health records have been purposely destroyed or neglected. When we are released from detention centres some of our medical records are not available for us or our doctors’ to access due to the negligence of private detention companies. We are often forced to move to regional areas, which means our records are further inaccessible. 

All of these factors mean that our health care is often inadequate, we receive poorer healthcare responses from the general public, and that the real data from our health outcomes is inaccessible and unable to be shared publicly. It also means there is a near total lack of proper comprehensive data on eX-detainee health outcomes. This is another extension of systemic discrimination against our bodies.

The human rights violating Australian detention institution takes a refugee’s life from a bad situation to a worse one.  Many eX-detainee members are on the street having to deal with mental health issues and homelessness. Our community has been subjected to this cruel systematic discrimination for over 30 years, and in turn this also devastates our physical and mental health.

It is the Australian government’s duty of care to make every effort to repair this damage after putting us through detention trauma and abuse. Indefinite and arbitrary detention is a form of torture and has a direct correlation to devastating chronic physical and mental health outcomes. It must be mandatory that we should be in the front line to access vaccines. Do not continue to exclude us from treatment that might protect us from disease and early death.

RISE eX-detainees