AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA’s position is that detention centres are harmful to the physical and mental health of asylum seekers – especially children.
“We have been raising concerns about the health of asylum seekers for over a decade,” Dr Hambleton said.
“The Position Statement has been updated to reflect current circumstances.
“Despite improvements in the provision of health care to immigration detainees, the policy of mandatory detention and the remote location of most detainees mean that the health status of detainees continues to decline.
“The AMA is clearly focused on the health aspects of the asylum seeker debate, which also touch on human rights, ethics, and the right thing to do.
“These are damaged people desperately seeking a new life in this country. They are often fleeing diabolical situations in their home country. They are well acquainted with fear and danger and desperation. Some of them have been through torture, some have physical health problems, and many will have experienced mental health pressures.
“The risk of mental health issues becomes higher the longer they are in detention centres.
“Children are particularly vulnerable and the detention environment places enormous stress on them.
“Children often witness behavioural and psychological distress in adults, including their parents. They see violence and self-harm and they experience separation from family members.
“Unaccompanied children should never be placed in detention centres,” Dr Hambleton said.
The AMA Position Statement on the Health Care of Asylum Seekers and Refugees (2011) is on the AMA website at http://ama.com.au/asylum-seekers
23 August 2011
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