Open letter in support of paramedics and other health professionals

November 2020

We have been concerned for some time with regard to the health and wellbeing of people held in immigration detention. We have noted that when they are transferred to hospital for appointments or emergency departments, they are often in unnecessary restraints.

The processes that Serco and Australian Border Force use to determine whether a person is high risk are obscure. For example, every person who was transferred to Australia for medical treatment under the now defunct Medevac laws passed all security checks, and yet handcuffs were used on each of these people when they had hospital appointments.

The use of handcuffs has had a deleterious effect on the psychological health of your patients who reportedly feel like they were being paraded like criminals in public. Some patients refused necessary appointments as a result. For others, the use of handcuffs has impeded medical treatment as well as being the cause of some injuries.

The medical care of our patients is our first priority and our main concern.

For those colleagues of ours who are paramedics or provide pre- hospital care, if in your judgement the person you are transporting from an Immigration Detention Centre is not in need of being restrained, and that the handcuffs are causing distress, we offer encouragement and support were you to insist on those handcuffs being removed.

For other medical professionals in hospitals or other medical settings, when you are presented with your patients in restraints by Serco personnel and you feel that they are unnecessary, causing harm and impeding medical treatment, we also offer you our encouragement and support were you to insist on those restraints being removed.

We recognize there are times when individuals may feel overwhelmed facing the prospect of taking this action. We hope that your employers and medical communities will offer you tangible support at that time and the chance to document the incident should Serco refuse to remove the handcuffs when asked.

We thank you for your care and professionalism. Please reach out should you require any further advice or support

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