Applying for a medical transfer from Nauru or Manus Island with the support of Medical Evacuation Response Group

What is the Medical Evacuation Response Group?

The Medical Evacuation Response Group (Medevac Group) is a partnership of specialist refugee support organisations who are working together to ensure the safe, orderly and effective implementation of applications under the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act, known as the Medevac legislation.

The staff supporting the work of the Medevac Group include doctors, caseworkers, counsellors and lawyers. The organisations who are partners in the Medevac Group include the Refugee Council of Australia, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Asylum Seekers Centre Sydney, Human Rights Law Centre, Refugee Legal, National Justice Project, Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Amnesty International Australia and more.

The Medevac Group is independent of the Australian, Nauruan and Papua New Guinean Governments.

What is the process for getting help with medical transfer?

The Medevac Group process for applications for medical transfer from Nauru and Manus Island under the new legislation is outlined in the flowchart below.

Can I apply for a medical transfer off Nauru and Manus?

The new law applies to refugees and people seeking asylum who the Australian Government has already sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea (including Manus Island or Port Moresby).

The new law means that you may be able to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment if:

  • you are sick;
  • doctors consider you need medical treatment or assessment;
  • doctors consider you are not being treated or assessed appropriately on Nauru or in Papua New Guinea; and
  • doctors consider it is necessary to evacuate you off Nauru or Papua New Guinea for treatment or assessment.

The new law also provides for separated family members in Nauru or Papua New Guinea to be reunited with their children or immediate family members in Australia if they were previously transferred there for medical treatment.

How can I apply for a medical transfer?

The Medevac Group has been set up to help people apply for a medical transfer. We are currently setting up the referral team for the Medical Evacuation Response Group. As soon as that is in place contact details will be provided here.

What happens after I contact the Medevac Group?

After you contact us, a triage worker will call you back with an interpreter.

The triage worker will ask you for your permission to get your medical records. When we have your medical records, we will provide them to a relevant and qualified doctor. If your records are not available, a worker will talk with you about how to progress your situation. The next steps in the process will depend on the doctor’s assessment of your medical need. The full process is set out in the flowchart below.

Decisions about all steps of the Medevac Group application process will be informed by the opinion of doctors and medical specialists.

What is the process under the new law?

To be eligible for a medical transfer to Australia, there must be two registered doctors who decide that:

  • you are sick;
  • you are not receiving appropriate medical treatment or assessment on Nauru or in Papua New Guinea; and
  • it is necessary to transfer you off Nauru or Papua New Guinea for appropriate medical treatment or assessment.

If two doctors decide this, we will notify the Department of Home Affairs. The Minister then has 72 hours to approve or refuse your transfer.

The Minister can refuse your transfer if:

  • the Minister reasonably believes that it is not necessary to transfer you for treatment or assessment;
  • the Minister reasonably believes that transferring you would harm Australia’s security; or
  • you have a substantial criminal record and the Minister reasonably believes that you would expose the Australian community to a serious risk of criminal conduct.

If the Minister refuses your transfer because they believe it is not necessary for medical treatment or assessment, your medical transfer application will then be reviewed by the Independent Health Advisory Panel. The Panel is a group of medical experts and includes both Australian Government and independent doctors. The Panel will assess your medical transfer application within 72 hours and either recommend that your transfer be approved or refused.

If the Panel recommends that your transfer is approved, the Minister has 24 hours to approve or refuse your transfer. The Minister can only refuse your transfer if they:

  • reasonably believes that transferring you would harm Australia’s security; or
  • you have a substantial criminal record and the Minister reasonably believes that you would expose the Australian community to a serious risk of criminal conduct

The Medevac Group only assist with applications to the Minister. We do not make the decision about whether you are transferred for medical treatment.

How long will it take to apply for a medical transfer?

The time it takes to process your application will depend on how quickly we can access your medical records and have you assessed by doctors. We will work as quickly as possible to assess applications. We will prioritise the most serious cases for assessment who are likely to be assessed within weeks. It will likely take months to assess all people who may be eligible for a medical transfer.

What happens if the doctors decide I do not need to be transferred?

If our doctors decide you do not need to be transferred, or if the Panel does not recommend your medical transfer, you will be not be able to be transferred under the Medevac legislation. Your caseworker will support you with other options for treatment, including what is available on the islands.  

It is important that you continue accessing healthcare while your Medevac application is being processed and afterwards if the doctors decide you do not need to be evacuated.

What happens if my medical transfer is approved?

You will be transferred to Australia for medical treatment or assessment. The Minister can decide to detain you in an immigration detention centre in Australia, or the Minister can choose to allow you to live in the Australian community with restrictions while you are getting your medical treatment or assessment.

I have been told that I am already on a waiting list for a lawyer or a caseworker. What will happen to me?

You do not need to do anything, and you will be contacted by a lawyer or a caseworker when the new Medevac Group process starts. With your permission, the information you have already sent for the waiting list will be used in the new process.

I already have a lawyer. What will happen to me?

If you already have a lawyer helping you with a possible medical transfer, they will continue to help you and will tell you if the new Medevac legislation changes your legal case.

Many refugee support organisations are working together to help you to get the medical treatment you need as soon as possible under the new Medevac law. The new process will help everyone fairly, and in a way that is directed by doctors.

As soon as the new Medevac Group is ready, the contact details will be distributed and you will be able to send your information. If you have already sent your information, you will be contacted.

Medevac chart flow chart