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Submission to the National

Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention from

Karen Fromene


The City of Port

Adelaide Enfield conducts regular public immunisation clinics for all

residents. During 2001, families who were ex Woomera and Port Hedland

detainees, who have settled in the local area, attended the immunisation

clinics. It was evident that the families required special needs including

interpreters, therefore the Community Health Nurse approached Child &

Youth Health to undertake a joint pilot project to offer a specific program

targeted at new arrivals to the area. Child and Youth Health were offering

home visits for the families in the area, but were being overloaded with

numbers.

Council's key performance

objectives include "Research and identify regional factors-including

socio economic, ethnic and geographic -which influence low immunisation

coverage." As well as "Develop promotional or service provision

strategies to address coverage deficiencies in the region- based on the

assess factors of influence."

Migrant Health offers

health services for all migrants in the Metropolitan areas, however access

to the service can be hindered by factors such as transport issues, language

and reluctance to remove children from school during school hours.

The Child & Youth

Health Service negotiated with The Department of Human Services to provide

a grant to cover interpreter services for a period of 12 months. At the

completion of the pilot program an evaluation will be undertaken to assess

the future viability of the clinic.

The following briefly

outlines the clinic:

  • Funding: Funding

    is a joint responsibility between Council. Child and Youth Health and

    Department of Human Services

  • Nursing staff,

    administrative staff are provided by Council along with infrastructure

    such as facilities to store vaccines and provision of consumables

  • Child & Youth

    Health provide the venue for the clinic as well as a Registered Nurse

    to assist and conduct health checks at the same time.

  • The Department

    of Human Services is paying for the provision of culturally appropriate

    interpreters to ensure valid consent.

  • The clinic is

    conducted on a monthly basis and is promoted through Child & Youth

    Health, who make the appointments. There is some word of mouth as the

    families talk to each other.

  • Catch up vaccinations

    are offered to adults as well as children. Initially there was some

    confusion as records were not always available. South Australian Immunisation

    Coordination Unit has a data-base of Woomera detainees which in most

    instances can be cross referenced to ascertain immunisation status.

    In the absence of records however the normal schedule should be implemented

    as per CDNA (Communicable Diseases Network Australia) recommendations.

  • Most of the childhood

    vaccines have been commenced by Migrant Health on a catch-up basis.

  • Adults had only

    received Oral polio vaccine initially in the detention camps, which

    was extended to measles mumps and rubella to prevent outbreaks in Australia.

    Australia has been polio free since 1976 and the detainees are from

    countries where polio and measles are endemic. This has been seen as

    a public health measure for both the Australian community as well as

    the detainee community.

  • Council offers

    free adult diphtheria and tetanus vaccine to all residents, therefore

    a primary course of the vaccine was also offered for adults attending

    the clinic along with measles mumps and rubella and polio they have

    not already received in the detention Centres.

Conclusion

Local Government

is ideally placed to offer this service if funding was available They

provide a specialised, accredited service with existing infrastructure

to conduct the clinics. During a recent Public Health Conference in Melbourne,

General Practitioners stated that they do not have the time or resources

to offer this service. There are not a lot of venues refugees/detainees

can attend that offer the time required to adequately assess their immunisation

requirements.

Most Local Government

providers are unable to offer this service to refugees in their area due

to the lack of funding. Port Adelaide Enfield is a proactive Council,

which provides the service as part of their Performance Objective Standards.

Migrant Health offers

a comprehensive service in the city, but due to geographical constraints

and cost of large families to take public transport the regional nature

of outlying services would be more cost effective in terms of proactive

instead of reactive health care to offer the service close to where they

live and congregate.

Last

Updated 22 October 2002.