July 17, 2007

Australia plans ads to fight racism against doctors

In the wake of a racist backlash following the questioning of Indian doctors in connection with the botched UK terror plots, Australian authorities on Wednesday said they will launch an advertising campaign to check discrimination against overseas trained medics.

“We are developing an advertising campaign to encourage the broader community to show support for the over 2,150 overseas-trained doctors working in public and private health facilities in Queensland,” said Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson.

Robertson told a Parliamentary panel about his worry that the detention of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef may scare away international medical graduates from the state. He added that Queensland Premier Peter Beattie met leaders of the state’s Muslim community on Wednesday to assure them of the government’s “ongoing support” .

“It is important for all Queenslanders to understand that Australia has not trained enough doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to meet the demands of the public and private health systems and our growing population,” Robertson added.

The minister said it was not the time for a “minority” in the community to use recent events to verbally assault or discriminate against overseas-trained doctors in Queensland.“There is never a time when this behaviour should be tolerated,” he said, adding “racism and bigotry have no place in our hospitals or the wider community.”

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