Staff at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne are taking a stand against the federal government, saying children should not be held in immigration detention centres.
The Herald Sun has reported doctors at the hospital believe they "cannot ethically discharge patients" who will be returned to detention.
In at least one case, hospital staff engaged in a month-long standoff with the department over the release of a child with a range of health issues, the report said.
"We see a whole range of physical, mental, emotional and social disturbances that are really severe and we have no hope of improving these things when we have to discharge our patients back into detention," one paediatrician told the Herald Sun.
According to an August report from the Australian Border Force, there are 93 children in the Nauru detention centre, 104 children in detention centres in Australia, and 405 children in community detention.
On Friday, hundreds of staff members from the hospital held a protest against children in detention.
By speaking out, hospital staff are violating the Australian Border Force Act 2015, which prevents healthcare and other workers from speaking out against conditions in immigration detention centres.
In an opinion piece on Sunday, doctors from the hospital wrote that their experience is that "detention harms children and families".
"Children have nightmares, bed-wetting, and behaviour problems. They develop depression and anxiety symptoms, and their development is affected," the doctors wrote.
"These issues are so common they've become normal in detention. It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to treat these children while they are still detained."
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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