Psychiatrists call on Federal Government to rethink deportation policy

24 March 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has urged the Australian Government to reconsider the controversial 501 deportation policy.

The RANZCP has reiterated its calls for the government to reassess, after Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, referred to the deportation process as “taking the trash out”.

‘We are renewing our calls to the government due to our concerns for the serious impacts this policy is having on the mental health and wellbeing of the individuals and families involved,’ said RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan.

‘These deportation practices are increasingly concerning to us due to the growing number of people experiencing mental illness who are being, or have been, deported and the lack of respect shown to vulnerable people and their families by the Minister.

‘The current policy, as it is being implemented, is seriously detrimental to the health and rehabilitative needs of affected individuals, while exposing Australia to future risks associated with intergenerational disadvantage and trauma.

‘We have heard from members in both Australia and New Zealand who have expressed significant concerns regarding the impacts this policy has.

The RANZCP is particularly concerned about the disproportionate effect of this policy on Māori, for whom strong connections to family are important to maintaining social and emotional wellbeing.

‘Many Māori who live in Australia have relocated with their family and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the impacts of deportation as it involves the loss of their entire familial support system’, explained Associate Professor Allan.

‘Whilst acknowledging that this policy is not directly targeted at Māori populations, the disproportionate number of this group affected by it suggests that it may constitute a form of indirect discrimination.

‘We strongly suggest that the Federal Government take a hard look at their deportation policies and consider which side of history they wish to stand on.

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email