Medevac: meaning of “remote assessment”

Federal Court: under the Medevac provisions, 2 doctors must assess ("either remotely or in person") a transitory person before that person can be brought to Australia for medical treatment. The non-citizen argued that the review of medical records of itself constituted "remote assessment". The Minister argued that "remote assessment" must involve a consultation.

Summary and discussion

Section 198E of the Migration Act 1958, which was introduced by Schedule 6 ofthe Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019 (Cth), relevantly provided (and continues to provide) as follows (underlining added):

(1) If 2 or more treating doctors for a transitory person who is in a regional processing country have notified the Secretary that the person is a relevant transitory person, the Secretary must notify the Minister as soon as practicable.

...

(7)    A medical practitioner is a treating doctor for a transitory person if the medical practitioner:

...

(b)    has assessed the transitory person either remotely or in person.

The question to the Federal Court (FCA) was whether the review by 2 doctors of the Applicant's medical records without a consultation constituted remote assessment pursuant to s 198E(7)(b). In other terms, does the term "remotely" in that provision imply the need for a consultation by teleconference or can the review of medical documents, in some circumstances, of itself constitute "remote assessment"?

The FCA answered as follows...

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