Almost 550 academics from Australian universities have signed an open letter to the Federal Government calling for the release of medevac refugees who remain in hotel immigration detention.

Dr Maria O’Sullivan from the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University has today published the following open letter representing the concerns of experts from around the country.

Dr Maria O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law joins Dave to discuss the concerns of the academics in theis area.

The academic community has been concerned for some time about the health and wellbeing of asylum-seekers and refugees held in immigration detention, including in hotels.

Indeed, groups of doctors, lawyers, service providers and the wider community have long called for the release of medevac refugees from harmful conditions in indefinite detention. In March 2020, for instance, over 1180 health care professionals and epidemiologists called for the Government to release people from immigration detention, stating that, ‘failure to take action to release people seeking asylum and refugees from detention will . . . put them at greater risk of infection (and possibly death)’.

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We note that approximately 60 asylum seekers and refugees have been held in Melbourne hotel rooms since late 2019, after they were brought to Australia from Manus Island or Nauru for medical treatment under the now-repealed medevac legislation. We acknowledge that many of those people were released in recent weeks, but a small group remain in hotel detention.

We therefore call on the Australian Government, as a matter of urgency, to take immediate action to release the remaining persons in hotel immigration detention and to give them permanent visas.

Further, Australia is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and as such is obliged to give refugees certain rights, including the right to work. Refugees should therefore be given the right to work, accommodation and income support, access to training and classes to allow them to integrate and contribute to the Australian community.