Medical staff have an ethical obligation to keep an asylum seeker baby at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, a doctors group says.
Protesters have been maintaining a vigil outside the South Brisbane hospital since Friday night in support of the doctors, who will not discharge the one-year-old girl known as Asha until a “suitable home environment is identified”.
Asha is in a stable condition after she was accidentally burnt by boiling water in a tent on Nauru in January.
Her parents have been allowed to stay in Australia while their daughter is being treated.
All three are due to be sent back to Nauru.
Refugee Action Collective’s Mark Gillespie previously said Asha’s parents were terrified at the prospect of being returned to Nauru.
Doctors for Refugees spokesman Richard Kidd today said the doctors and nurses involved were distressed by the situation.
“There’s overwhelming evidence that babies and children being put into detention does them great harm,” he said.
“So for doctors and nurses we just can’t send children from hospital into a place where we know they’re going to be harmed.”
Queensland Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Benedict Coyne said the Government should intervene.
“Clearly there’s a loud message from the Australian public and the community and it’s really up to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister [Peter] Dutton to open their ears, eyes and their hearts to this message that Australian people want clear and concerted efforts to change the border protection policy,” Mr Coyne said.
Doctors and nurses involved in the care of this child are risking two years jail for standing up for the rights and for the medical profession to be able to stand by their ethics.Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens Senator
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young praised the actions of doctors and nurses involved in the case.
“Of course they risk their own careers in this because the Government doesn’t like anyone speaking out of turn on this issue,” she said.
“Doctors and nurses involved in the care of this child are risking two years jail for standing up for the rights and for the medical profession to be able to stand by their ethics.”
Labor MP heckled by protesters
Father Nicholas Whereat from the Anglican Church said his parish was willing to support the family if they were allowed to stay.
“We’re here to say that young Asha is a child who needs to be embraced and needs to be cared for,” he said.
Labor MP Terri Butler addressed the crowd but was heckled by some who yelled out anti-Labor slogans.
“It’s the Liberals who are actually running these places right now who are failing to provide safe processing for refugees and asylum seekers,” she said.
“If you want to make this about me when I want to make it about baby Asha, then I think you should be ashamed of yourself.
“But look, let me tell you what I think. Firstly I believe Malcolm Turnbull can make a decision right now, can show some leadership right now and actually keep baby Asha here.
“Wow, you must be so proud of yourself to be able to yell at me, how wonderful.”
Ellen Roberts from GetUp stayed with a small group of protesters at the hospital entrance overnight.
“What we’re seeing here is a state institution effectively offering sanctuary against the Federal Government’s extreme immigration policies,” she said.
“Health professionals know that detention is no place for children.”
Mr Dutton has declined to comment on the case.