In a backdown by the federal government on one of the most contentious elements of the Australian Border Force Act, health professionals have been removed from the definition of “immigration and border protection workers”. This leaves them free to speak out about conditions and medical treatment in Australia’s immigration detention system.
The amendment means the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the act no longer apply to health professionals, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, midwives, pharmacists and dentists.
Teachers, lawyers, security staff, social workers and other staff working in onshore and offshore immigration detention have not been exempted from the act. They still face jail terms of up to two years for any “unauthorised disclosure”.