Oct 7 2013
Mostly Muslim ‘asylum seekers,’ who are nothing more than economic opportunists, have asked doctors for breast enlargements, Invitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments and even Botox, according to the former director of medical health services for Australia’s offshore asylum processing network.
The Australian via Sheikyermami (h/t liz) Ling Yoong, who helped set up medical services on Nauru and Manus Island and worked on Christmas Island, said the cosmetic operations were requested when asylum-seekers underwent other regular medical checks and necessary treatment.
“We give (the asylum-seekers) the health services they need; we do not give them the services they want,” Dr Yoong said in an interview with industry magazine Medical Observer published this week. A medical source familiar with the demands said they had been made in all three offshore locations.
“I was employed to give them the health checks and intervention they needed, but some of the people started demanding things they wanted,” the source said. “A woman wanted bigger breasts and said she did not like the ones she had.
“These are the more extreme examples, but I continued to get the impression that many of these people were not genuine refugees. “If I were a refugee, I would be quietly grateful for arriving somewhere safely, not asking for breast surgery.”
Former foreign minister Bob Carr caused outrage among some sections of the community in June when he declared asylum-seekers were increasingly “economic migrants”. Julia Gillard’s former communications director John McTernan labelled them “Iranian architects”.
The medical source said she believed she was witnessing the initial stages of a growing trade in “medical asylum”, where people who were not otherwise persecuted, but who had little or no access to healthcare, were making trips to Australia in the belief they could get any treatment they wanted.
“You have to be logical and rational about this and as much as I supported the genuine refugees, I knew more and more were not,” the source said. She said she originally got into the field of asylum health because she wanted to treat people.
“I have a lot of empathy for refugees … when I started, I told myself I was just going to be treating people, I said I was not going to get involved in the politics,” she said. “But I soon went from dealing with mostly human misery to human demands.”
A source close to the former Labor government was not aware of the specific instances of medical requests but was “not surprised” by them. The source cautioned against using the requests as a direct link to refugee status.
“Somebody can have a well-founded fear of persecution which would not make them an economic migrant, it would make them an asylum-seeker,” the source said.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said these types of requests were “lavish” … Those seeking to come illegally by boat won’t receive such lavish treatments and they won’t get the settlement in Australia they paid people-smugglers for.”
Details of the medical requests emerged as Mr Morrison said the government was negotiating a series of understandings with the Indonesian government over asylum-seekers, but wouldn’t say whether they included the Coalition’s signature policy of turning boats back to Indonesia.
A delegation of Australian officials was in Indonesia working through the issues, and a high-level delegation, including operation commander Mark Binskin, retired major general Jim Molan and AFP Commissioner Tony Negus would visit next week.