Immigration Minister Dutton: Baby Asha To Be Released Into Community Detention

21/02/2016 4:08 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: MInister for Health Peter Dutton during Question Time at Parliament House on July 15, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. A vote on the Government's Carbon Tax Repeal Legislation has been delayed as debate in the Senate continues. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has announced that refugee baby Asha and her family have been released into community detention.

Dutton told Channel 9 that Asha had been discharged from Lady Cilento Hospital and moved to a community facility on Monday morning.

Doctors at the Brisbane hospital had been refusing to release baby Asha until "a suitable home environment was identified” with protestors gathering last night following concerns of her imminent deportation.

On Sunday, Dutton said the government remained firm its position to monitor cases on an individual basis, and said the asylum claims for Asha and her family would be subject to normal processing.

“The situation (for Asha) is as it has been for many other families. Once the medical assistance has been provided to the patient, the doctors allow the patient to be released and arrangements are made at a detention facility in Australia or in the community," Dutton told reporters in Brisbane.

"This has always been the case and we have made that very clear."

“We have an important policy to continue -- that is stopping the boats and making sure we deal with cases compassionately,” Dutton said.

"That's what we have proposed all along but at some point, if people have matters finalised in Australia, they will be returning to Nauru."

The response from the government comes after calls from the Australian Medical Association to release all children from immigration detention.

Speaking at a forum, AMA President Brian Owler warned the removal of baby Asha from the Brisbane hospital would represent a “point of no return” for the asylum seeker debate.

“We have seen from the Australian Human Rights Commission that there is no doubt that having children in detention is harmful,” Owler said.

“We support the doctors and nurses working in Lady Cilentro. It is an ethical obligation for them to not release baby Asha into a situation where they believe she will be going into harm.”

The AMA also called for a moratorium on any child being sent back to offshore detention centres and the establishment of a national body of clinical experts to independently review the health care provision of asylum seekers.

“Doctors, along with nurses, lawyers and others, must lead debate on an issue of national importance,” Owler said.

Amidst ongoing discussions over the fate of baby Asha, Minister Dutton said the case had been “hijacked” by refugee advocates, and remains unchanged in his position.

“Yes, I do want to be the Minister to make sure that we keep the boats stopped, but I do want to be the Minister that gets children out of detention.”

This story has been updated with the announcement Asha had been released into community detention.

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