A GROUP of concerned residents have taken action to help refugees in offshore detention centres gain access to medical care.
The Rural Australians for Refugees Grampians/Gariwerd chapter has donated $600 to help fund medical transfers to Australia under the Medevac Bill.
The Bill passed on August 28 in Federal Parliament, and enables the transfers where two independent treating doctors state the patient is not able to receive appropriate medical care on Manus Island or Nauru.
The Minister of Home Affairs reserves the right to veto any case on security grounds.
The Rural Australians for Refugees group decided to donate money it received as a thank you from the East Grampians Health Auxiliary following its annual Women Wisdom and Well being dinner.
"They approached us to do the dish washing," Ms Foster said.
"For that we earned $500 ... so we thought let's make it up to the $600. One of the members said 'What are we going to do with this money we've just earned?' This seemed to be the obvious place to send it.
"It was unanimous."
However, the Morrison government is currently trying to repeal the Medevac Bill, with Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie's vote set to make or break the repeal bill next month.
Ms Foster said the group was "horrified" that the government was trying to repeal the Medevac law.
"It flies in the face of basic human dignity and rights," she said.
Ms Foster referred to comments by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton that refugees used self-harm as a means to get to Australia - a claim that AAP Factcheck stated was ambiguous.
"The government's position seems to be at the moment that if they've self-harmed, they don't deserve our care - but there's a reason they are self-harming, isn't there? The wait is so long," Ms Foster said.
"That's why we decided to support Medevac."
The Refugee Council of Australia states on its website that under the legislation 112 people have been transferred for medical reasons.
"Another 24 had been approved but not yet transferred for medical reasons, and seven approved but not yet transferred for family reasons.
"In the same period, 288 people were transferred under the earlier system of approvals by the Department."
Ms Foster said the latest donation is part of an ongoing effort by the group, which meets on the first Wednesday of every second month.
"Every meeting we have a suggested list of goods to gather and send down to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre," she said.
"This last meeting it was nappies and related wipes and toiletries and I think we got 1200 nappies."
That sounds like a lot of nappies but Ms Foster said there was always a need.
"They can't get enough down there," she said.
"A member usually delivers those to Melbourne in a private car.
"In the last month we've done things like cooking oil, the ingredients for simple spaghetti bolognese - tinned tomatoes, packets of noodles, and olive oil they can't seem to get enough of.
"It goes to people who have somehow managed to have some sort of temporary residency. They are living in Melbourne but under very difficult circumstances - not being allowed to work, and everything is temporary. They don't have access to things we take for granted."
The group meets at 7.30pm at the St Andrews Ararat Uniting Church meeting room, and all are welcome.
The next meeting will be on November 6.
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