Social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn has tonight welcomed the passing of a bill in the House of Representatives to get sick people out of offshore detention for medical assessment and treatment in Australia.
Maurice Blackburn Social Justice Principal Jennifer Kanis said today's bill was a major step in ensuring the timely medical assessment, treatment and transfer of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention.
"The significance of having the MediVac bill passed in the House of Representatives tonight cannot be understated," Ms Kanis said.
"The passing of this bill has been hard fought but at last we now have a clear legislative framework in place to ensure timely medical assessment, treatment and transfer if necessary of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention.
"It should never have had to come to this point but it is evident this bill was urgently needed to force action – in the last year alone we have had to take court action repeatedly to help secure the medical evacuation of 26 ill people on Nauru, many of these children.
"In a number of those cases the delay in accessing medical treatment risked life threatening consequences for the children and adults concerned.
"With tonight's bill what we now have is a much clearer process to ensure that the Government acts to get the people in our care in offshore detention medical treatment here in Australia when that is required, without delay.
"We urge the Senate to pass this bill without further delay, as there is no doubt that a continuing health crisis remains for those refugees and asylum seekers still in offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island," she said.