Doctors must call for release of detained children: Talley

DOCTORS must push to have kids in detention released, one of the country's top medics says.

Royal Australasian College of Physicians president Professor Nicholas Talley says his colleagues need to publicly express their "disagreement" with the Federal Government over the handling of young detainees.

At least 227 children are among more than 3540 locked up in onshore and offshore facilities including Nauru.

Detainees spend an average 394 days in secure facilities before they are sent home or given asylum in Australia.

Writing in this week's Medical Journal of Australia, Dr Talley says children can be scarred for life by mandatory detention.

He urged his colleagues to start lobbying their local MPs to put pressure on Tony Abbott and the Federal Government.

"We encourage doctors to write to their local members of parliament, and make their views known in as many forums as possible," Dr Talley said.

"Detained children experience significant language and developmental delays, sleep and behaviour disorders, mental health conditions and inadequately treated physical health conditions at greater rates than refugee children who are not detained.

"It is imperative that detention of asylum seekers for any length of time must be stopped.

"There are no circumstances, from a health perspective, in which conditions in detention are acceptable."

Dr Talley said the RACP and its members were disappointed by the Abbott Government's response to the Australian Human Rights Commission's report on detained asylum seeker children did not involve immediate release.

"RACP Fellows had helped to prepare this sobering account of the ongoing harms of detention," Dr Talley said.

"The appropriate response would have been immediate action to release all children.

"We are optimistic that, with continued focus on the negative health impacts of this policy, public opinion will eventually turn, and detaining children who are seeking asylum in our country will become a policy of the past." - APN NEWSDESK

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