Australia medics slam child detention

2011-09-26 14:12
Sydney - Asylum-seekers as young as 9 have attempted suicide while in Australian immigration lock-ups, the peak medical body said on Monday as it slammed detention of youngsters as akin to "child abuse".

The Australian Medical Association said it was worried about the mental health of detainees, and that children were suffering from depression and self-harm.

"We are aware of a 9-year-old child who was recently admitted for trying to commit suicide," Peter Morris from the association's Northern Territory branch told an inquiry into the detention system, The Australian reported.

"The emergency department has also reported large numbers of adults with mental health problems manifesting in self-harm," in comments he said.

Australia has long had a policy of mandatory detention for boatpeople seeking asylum and many are held in remote facilities, including on the Indian Ocean outpost of Christmas Island.

The government has softened its stance in recent years to allow more women and children into the community as their refugee claims are assessed but Morris recommended minors not be held in detention for more than three days.

"We agree that detention of asylum-seeker children and their families is a form of child abuse," he said.

"Mandatory detention is medically harmful, violates human rights, has no known beneficial effects and is a waste of money."

Some 845 minors, including those living in community accommodation, are among more than 4 700 boatpeople in Australian immigration detention.

Though they arrive in relatively low numbers by global standards, refugees are a thorny political issue in Australia, and a record influx in 2010 of almost 7 000 boatpeople stretched facilities.
Read more on:    australia  |  refugees

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.