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A Brief History

Photo courtesy: Nic Bezzina and Australian Doctor


Dr Barri Phatarfod is a Sydney GP and the Founder and President of Doctors for Refugees.

Barri started Doctors for Refugees in August 2013, soon after the reopening of Manus Island detention centre and with the next federal election a few weeks away.

Concerned at the level of medical mismanagement reported in the Nauru detention centre, Barri was alarmed that expanding the offshore detention network would only see this increase. At that time, Barri was a Councilor with NSW AMA and their representative to Canberra for the AMA Council of General Practice, where she found other doctors who shared her concerns.

Barri formed Doctors for Refugees to unite the voices of Australian health professionals against the abuses and neglect seen in detention – but to also provide a way for doctors to utilize their skills to assist those in detention, by reviewing the medical care given to individuals who have requested the help of Doctors for Refugees.

To date the doctors volunteering at Doctors for Refugees have reviewed the cases of around 300 individuals and have helped achieve positive outcomes for many.

These include getting the corrective surgery for an 11 year old boy with a badly fractured arm, successfully lobbying to have a pregnant woman with obstetric complications come to Australia for Caesarian Section delivery and obtaining appropriate treatment for a number of cardiac cases that may not have otherwise survived.

Barri has long been a social justice campaigner and has served on committees including the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, as well as the board of the Eastern Sydney Division of General Practice.