Help stop the deprivation of Medicare to children in Australian jails.

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An incarcerated child is not a second-class citizen, why are our governments giving them second-class healthcare?

There is no worse discrimination than health inequality. Australia’s population is 25.5 million people, of which the overwhelming majority are citizens, thus entitled to receive Medicare. Readers may find this hard to believe, but health rights such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), are denied to Australia’s 42,000 incarcerated individuals, of whom thereabouts 1,000 annually are children. 

This is disgraceful. This is deprivation of basic human rights. Where is the outrage? Where are the campaigns? 

In my work, as a Projects Manager with the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project, I have been part of restorative and transformational projects in prisons. I have seen the effects of the health inequalities, the impact of no Medicare. 

An incarcerated individual must not be a second-class citizen, so why are our governments giving them second-class healthcare? 

In Australia, do we believe in human rights for all Australians? Or do we take them away when someone is incarcerated? Healthcare is not a gift; it is a right.

In juvenile detention facilities and in adult prisons right across Australia, the incarcerated are excluded from Medicare and denied the same level of healthcare as the rest of us. To think that there are children as young as ten, physically suffering, isolated, in a bleak concreted fragment of reality, without access to proper medical treatment, is unthinkably heart-wrenching. Yet at the hands of our Federal Governments, this is an omitted reality. 

Medicare, the PBS and NDIS are federal responsibilities. It will take only minor amendments to federal acts relating to the above to ensure that all prisoners and detainees are protected with Medicare, the PBS and entitled to the NDIS.

The State and Territory Governments need to be systemic advocates for the people. 

Governments are part of the Australian National Cabinet and the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) are the best placed to arbitrate changes.

The Departments of Corrective Services need to put pressure on respective State and Territory Governments. 

We must raise awareness. 

To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.

We must bust for amendments to the Health Insurance Act 1973, with the relevant clause in Section 19(2). Government can amend to the inclusion of Medicare and the PBS subsidies for prisoners. Government must also include prisoners in the NDIS who at this time are excluded.

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