Do codes of ethics and position statements help guide ethical decision making in Australian immigration detention centres?

BMC Medical Ethics 20 (1):52 (2019)

Abstract
Australian immigration detention has been called state sanctioned abuse and a crime against humanity. The Australian healthcare community has been closely involved with these policies, calling for their reform and working within detention centres to provide healthcare. As well as having a devastating impact on health, immigration detention changes the scope and nature of healthcare, with its delivery described as a Sisyphean task. In this article I will explore the guidance that is available to clinicians who work within detention centres and argue that codes, guidelines and positions statements provide little help in relation to ethical decision making. First I will outline guidance that can be found in codes of ethics and position statements, focusing on particularly relevant principles, such as advocacy, clinical independence and the clinicians’ relationship to human rights. I will then highlight the disparity between this guidance and the delivery of healthcare within detention by drawing on the testimony of clinicians who formerly worked in these environments. While this disparity should be cause for alarm and at a minimum call into question how codes and positions statements are being used, there are more fundamental reasons why codes and position statements fail to provide guidance in these circumstances. I will outline a more general criticism of codes of ethics and use this to suggest a way forward, including looking beyond codes and position statements to guide action within Australian immigration detention.
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-019-0392-8
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References found in this work BETA

Should Clinicians Boycott Australian Immigration Detention?Ryan Essex - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (2):79-83.
Psychiatric Ethics and a Politics of Compassion.Deborah Zion, Linda Briskman & Bebe Loff - 2012 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 9 (1):67-75.
Torture, Healthcare and Australian Immigration Detention.Ryan Essex - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (7):418-419.

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