Health experts gather to discuss role in advocating for asylum seekers and refugees

Refugee Grand Round
Grand Round panellists (L-R) Prof George Newhouse, Prof Louise Newman, Dr Sarah Townend, Kara Blackburn, Dr Neela Janakiramanan, A/Prof Deborah Zion (end) and Grand Round organiser Dr Rebecca Szabo (second right)
30 November 2018 | Mental health | Events

A panel of health and human rights experts joined moderator, Meshel Laurie this week to discuss the role of health professionals in advocating for asylum seekers and refugees.

Organised by the Women’s Dr Rebecca Szabo and Professor Louise Newman AM, the thought-provoking discussion attracted a record audience for this special ‘Grand Round’ event. 

The focus of the discussion centred on the role of health professionals, both as individuals and as a group, and the ethical, legal and practical elements of their role.

In her opening remarks, Dr Szabo spoke about her background as the child and grandchild of refugees and of her own experience as a doctor working with refugee and asylum seekers both in Australia and Thailand.

“As a health workforce we have a duty of care to the community; and as human beings, we can’t help but be impacted by the women, children and men we are caring for. Through my experience, I have come to a greater understanding of the detrimental health impacts experienced by asylum seekers and refugees and I have an obligation to advocate for change,” Dr Szabo said.

Well-known advocate for health and human rights, Professor Newman, spoke of the specific health issues faced by women asylum seekers and refugees.

“I am particularly concerned about the detrimental impacts that living in detention has on female detainees, including rape, sexual assault and unwanted pregnancy, and the poor access these women have to specialist women’s health care, support and treatment,” said Professor Newman.

Watch a video replay of the Grand Round via Twitter.

The Women’s Grand Round events provide an opportunity for all Women’s staff to participate in discussions on clinical best practice, ethical issues, research innovation and health equity. They have featured local and international experts including Dr Ruth Mitchell from the Australian-born movement to ban nuclear weapons International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.