Concerned Armidale citizens will hold an overnight vigil on Sunday as part of a nationwide show of support for Medevac, which the Senate may repeal next week.
Medevac allows asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to be brought to Australian hospitals if two doctors think it necessary. 130 people have received life-saving medical treatment in this country since the bill was passed in February - but the Coalition and others on the right want to end it.
The Senate is expected to vote on Medevac next week. The House of Representatives already voted in July to repeal the laws.
Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees will hold their tea candle-lit vigil from 6.30pm on Sunday to 9.30am on Monday.
Other RAR branches throughout the country will also hold vigils, including outside Parliament House, Canberra, to stress to politicians their concern about the possible repeal.
"It's a matter of injustice that people in Australia's care are not treated properly," Armidale RAR member Bar Finch said. "It's important that legislation stays in and does not get repealed, in order to transfer medical cases to better treatment places."
Medevac, Ms Finch believes, could have saved Hamid Khazaei, a young Iranian detainee who died from a leg infection in 2018 after the Department of Immigration rejected doctors' recommendations that he be treated in Australia.
Ms Finch welcomed the public to come on Sunday evening or Monday morning and talk to them about offshore detention.
"They don't have to attend the vigil," Ms Finch said, "but if they're curious about what ARRA does, we welcome conversation from anybody."
The group will also hold a stall at the Black Gully Festival on Saturday, behind NERAM.
"The whole experience of offshore detention is deeply unjust," Ms Finch said. "It's mainly because people choose not to think about it, because it is very hard to think about. We're basically holding hundreds of people hostage, making some stateless, and keeping others trapped."
The Coalition, One Nation, and Cory Bernardi are in favour of repealing Medevac. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton claim it would allow paedophiles, rapists, murderers, and other criminals to enter the country. While the minister can block transfers on national security grounds, Dutton believes these discretionary powers are too narrow.
A Coalition-led government committee also claim the policy is flawed, arguing, for instance, it contains no process to return transferees, and that the time frame to assess security and character concerns is unrealistic.
Labor, the Greens, and the Centre Alliance want to maintain Medevac. The Australian Medical Association, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and other medical bodies have also urged that Medevac should continue on humanitarian grounds.
A report this year showed that 91 per cent of detainees have mental health problems (severe depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation) and 97 p.c. have physical health conditions.
Medevac, its supporters believe, improves detainees' access to health care.
Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie is expected to hold the casting vote.