December 4, 2009

AUSTRALIA: UN health expert critical of Australian policies

. SYDNEY, NSW / ABC Radio Australia News / December 4, 2009 By Linda Mottram, Canberra An independent UN expert says Australia's Christmas Island immigration detention centre should be closed. The special rapporteur on health, Anand Grover, also says health conditions for indigenous Australians are worse than in third world countries. A doctor treats an elderly Aboriginal woman in a clinic run by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. ABC file photo At the end of his Australian tour which included prisons, detention centres and indigenous communities, Mr Grover says the right to health of a significant proportion of indigenous Australians is being violated. Mr Grover has pointed to the extent of preventable disease, a lack of basic services and poor access to primary health care. He says direct discrimination is often the problem. "They actually fare worse in some respects when you compare them to even third world countries," he said. On immigration detention, Mr Grover says the health situation has improved. But he says the remoteness of Christmas Island, and the high number of successful asylum applications among those held there means the facility should be closed.[rc] ©2009 ABC