by RACHEL WONG
Rachel co-organised the April 7th ‘Detention Harms Health’ Rally as MSAP’s Crossing Borders Officer.
‘1, 2, 3, 4, Health is a human right for all!’
The chants of hundreds of medical students and healthcare workers sounded in the streets of Sydney two Saturdays ago on April 7th. Across the multiple signs held up along the streets, in photos and in news articles published later that day, the words portrayed are clear: ‘Detention Harms Health’.
I have been amazed by how an idea brought up between a medical student and refugee speaker has grown into this huge campaign. The passion of medical students who have worked tirelessly between exams and hospital shifts to bring this rally to life has been inspiring. From badge and banner-making to endless Skype meetings, I have been extremely humbled by the team’s tenacity to pursue what they believe in. To call out something when it is clearly not right.
In a heartwarming success, news of the march reached asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru through social media, letting them know that they are heard and remembered. Attendees received heartbreaking but hopeful messages of thanks from asylum seekers in return:
However, despite the success of the march, the sad reality is that refugees are still being harmed in detention. The sad reality is that there is still violence, abuse and death in these detention centres. The sad reality is that mainstream media wasn’t interested in the march because the story was ‘tired’. And that’s why we need people to keep listening and to keep calling out the government’s harmful offshore policies.
AMSA Crossing Borders is organising an MP call out and we need your help to pull it off.
We are all called as future health professionals to take care of people, regardless of their background or where they come from. As the next generation of healthcare, it is vital that we take a firm stance now; to make a statement that all people have the right to a good standard of health and that we CANNOT and WILL NOT tolerate the mistreatment of refugees in detention. When policy and health are in discordance, it is our duty and privilege to stand up for the wellbeing of the disenfranchised, to act as a trusted moral compass for those in the Australian community who have been mislead and misinformed.
When I ask people why they want to do medicine, they often say: ‘so I can make a difference in the world’ or ‘so I can help people.’ Well, now you can. You don’t have to wait six years to make that difference.