Lawyers have lodged an urgent application asking the the Federal Court to intervene after the federal government refused pleas to transfer a seriously ill refugee child from Nauru to Australia for treatment.
The child has made a number of suicide attempts, the last as recently as two days ago, legal firm Maurice Blackburn says, and is being watched around the clock by security guards because of the high risk of harm.
The firm's representative Jennifer Kanis says an urgent request was made on Friday to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his department to have the child, a sibling and their father transferred off Nauru immediately to the Australian mainland so the child could be treated but it was rejected.
"This is a horrific case - this child has now attempted suicide three times and needs medical attention immediately, which the federal government knows cannot be provided on Nauru," Ms Kanis said in a statement.
"The Department of Immigration have a medical report that clearly concludes that this child is at very serious risk of harm and recommends an immediate transfer from Nauru, yet all that has happened is our client has been placed under 24-hour surveillance and is still not receiving critical medical treatment."
Ms Kanis said it was the third time in recent months the intervention of the court had been sought to get children medical treatment.
The application was filed on Friday night with the court to hear it in Melbourne on Saturday morning.
Mr Dutton's office was contacted for comment.