Health Care Cuts: Australia's reduced health care support for refugees and asylum seekers in PNG
This paper provides an update on the health situation for refugees and asylum seekers sent to Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the Australian government. Since 2013, Australia has been sending asylum seekers arriving in its territory by boat to the remote Pacific island nations of Nauru and PNG. Around 700 refugees and asylum seekers remain in PNG, mostly on Manus Island, after nearly five years in limbo.
Australia has an obligation to realise the right to the highest attainable standard of health for the refugees and asylum seekers it has sent to PNG. In spite of this, health services, including critical mental health support, have been reduced over the last six months for a refugee population that has amongst the highest recorded rate of mental illness in the world.1 Two suspected suicides in August and October 2017 underscore the need for increased, and not reduced, mental health care.