The Greens have called on the McGowan Government to urge the federal Health Minister to grant access to Medicare to men, women and children in Western Australian prisons.
Spokesperson for Health and Corrective Services Alison Xamon MLC said access to health services was a basic human right – and people in custody are entitled to receive the same level of access and quality of health care as the general population;
Ms Xamon said granting access to Medicare also made economic sense – since the state was currently footing the bill for medical care for 6,092 men, 684 women and 134 young people in the WA prison and detention system.
“We know the bulk of offenders enter custody with some of the worst health profiles in the country,” Ms Xamon said.
“Prisoners have significant and often long-term, complex health needs, including higher rates of mental health problems, chronic and communicable diseases and risky health-related behaviours such alcohol consumption and smoking.
“And yet the highest number of complaints received by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services last year related to the health services provided in our prisons and at Banksia Hill Detention Centre.
“This is deeply concerning.”
Ms Xamon said there needed to be an overhaul of the ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ mentality in public discourse on the treatment of prisoners.
She said granting access to Medicare would lessen the financial burden on the state.
“Western Australia is currently footing the bill for these services when they should be a federal responsibility,” Ms Xamon said.
“We need to ensure that all Australians have access to appropriate and quality health care, regardless of their circumstances.”
The Government has supported the motion put forward by Alison in the Legislative Council.
0408 678 017