Life saving medication secured for asylum seeker with Hepatitis C

Legal action and strategic advocacy by PIAC’s Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project has ensured access to curative Hepatitis C medication for people in immigration detention.

In 2018, PIAC filed proceedings in the Federal Court seeking orders for the provision of life saving Hepatitis C medication and compensation for a client who was repeatedly denied access to the treatment while held in immigration detention for four years. After we filed proceedings, the Commonwealth agreed to provide the treatment and has now agreed to change its policies to give all asylum seekers in onshore detention access to this essential treatment. 

‘This case has been a catalyst for long overdue systemic change,’ said PIAC Senior Solicitor, Mary Flanagan.

‘We are especially pleased that the Commonwealth has listened to our advocacy around this issue and changed its policies.

‘Until recently, asylum seekers in immigration detention were routinely denied access to curative Hepatitis C medication, readily available in the community,’ said Mary Flanagan.

Documents obtained from the Commonwealth in the course of the legal proceedings exposed repeated failures by the Department to act on specialist recommendations, a failure to ensure continuity of health care when our client was transferred between detention centres and misrepresentations about our client’s medical care needs to oversight bodies.

‘There are approximately 2000 people currently in immigration detention across Australia,’ said Mary Flanagan.

‘Since 2017, PIAC’s Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project has been helping asylum seekers with serious, chronic diseases and injuries suffering indefinitely without access to treatments that are freely available to prisoners and members of the broader community.

‘The government owes a clear, common law duty of care to people it detains. The Asylum Seeker Health Rights Project is continuing to seek fair and humane treatment for people in onshore immigration detention, consistent with this fundamental duty of care,’ said Mary Flanagan.

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