NSWCCL supporter and esteemed retired physician, Dr Alex Wodak*, has called for the Commonwealth Government to immediately close all immigration detention centres and remove all non-violent inmates from prisons across the country or risk a major public health crisis of COVID-19.
"An outbreak of COVID-19 is many, many more times likely in a detention centre or prison than in the general population."
"You have overcrowding, outdated facilities, lack of readily available hand sanitiser, and a population prone to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma."
"We cannot afford an outbreak. We owe these people a duty of care".
Dr Wodak called for an immediate, high level meeting between the Prime Minister, Department of Home Affairs and state Ministers for Corrective Services with a view to facilitating the speedy transfer for detainees and inmates from these centres to the community.
Read Dr Wodak's statement HERE.
*Dr Wodak is Emeritas Consultant at the Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent's Hospital (he was Director of service from 1982-2012). Dr Wodak has been a fierce advocate for the prevention of HIV among people who inject drugs, prevention of alcohol problems and drug policy reform. He is President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and was President of the International Harm Reduction Association (1996-2004). He helped establish the first needle syringe programme and the first supervised injecting centre in Australia when both were pre-legal and often works in developing countries on HIV control among among people who inject drugs. Dr Wodak helped establish the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the Australian Society of HIV Medicine and the NSW Users AIDS Association.