Australia’s Humanitarian Agencies Warn of Impending Mental Health Crisis on Manus

Campaigns and Advocacy, General, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 28 Nov 2017

A fact-finding mission representing Australian humanitarian agencies has warned of an impending mental health crisis on Manus Island in its report released today.

In a report entitled Refugees on Manus: An Impending Mental Health Crisis the multi-agency mission outlined its findings from their mission to Papua New Guinea 21-27 November 2017, conducted under the auspices of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).

The delegation is warning of urgent physical and mental health issues among the refugees and asylum seekers and is calling on the Australian Government to immediately ensure the safety and wellbeing of the men for whom it is responsible.

The leader of the delegation, Tim Costello, said the ongoing detention of more than 600 men on Manus was robbing them not only of their hope, but also their health.

“The indefinite nature of this situation, with no clear pathway for resettlement, has the most insidious and deep impact on these men,” Mr Costello said. “We are robbing them of their freedom, denying them all hope and condemning them to terrible suffering.”

ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell, said the delegation had written to both the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull and the Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten outlining the dire situation on Manus and the urgent need for action.

“We are calling on the Government to take immediate and concrete steps to bring an end to the crisis on Manus and end the suffering.”

Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager, Meg Quatermaine said the mental health crisis on Manus cannot be left unaddressed.

“These men are distressed and they don’t know what the future holds. We urge the Australian Government to immediately arrange for these men to be evacuated to Australia so that they have access to appropriate medical care.”

The ACFID mission were on the ground when the refugees were forcibly removed from the former detention centre on November 23-24 and saw them being bussed to the new transitional centres – at least one of which is not complete. They had a chance to speak with the men, including those seeking medical assistance.


Notes to Editors

ACFID has released a report on the preliminary findings of the mission which can be downloaded here.

The letter from the delegation to Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten can be downloaded here.

Media Contact

Dylan Quinnell, 0450 668 350 (Oxfam Australia)

Tim Watkin, 0401 721 064 (ACFID)

Stuart Rintoul, 0407 241 492 (World Vision)