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Friday, 13 February 2015

Immigration Detention: try living with the life changing effects - The AIM Network

Immigration Detention: try living with the life changing effects - The AIM Network







Immigration Detention: try living with the life changing effects













CartoonAIMSo
many experts have warned the government about the effects of detention
on asylum seekers. The experts have been publicly denouncing detention
for years, yet we detain more and more people. Most sadly, we detain
children, a situation the Human Rights Commission has reported on, in
graphic and disturbing detail, this week in The Forgotten Children.
Here we are in 2015, incarcerating
innocent children in conditions worse than those in which we jail
convicted criminals. Julie Bishop cries tears of pain over the looming
deaths of two convicted drug smugglers, yet Tony Abbott’s response when
asked if he felt any guilt over the treatment of children in detention
was “None whatsoever”. While I do not agree with the death penalty and I
feel for the drug smugglers and their families at this tragic time, the
contradiction evident in the two responses is nothing short of
astonishing.
I left my country because there was a
war and I wanted freedom. I left my country. I came to have a better
future, not to sit in a prison. If I remain in this prison, I will not
have a good future. I came to become a good man in the future to help
poor people … I am tired of life. I cannot wait much longer. What will
happen to us? What are we guilty of? What have we done to be
imprisoned?87 I’m just a kid, I haven’t done anything wrong. They are
putting me in a jail. We can’t talk with Australian people.
(13 year old child, Blaydin Detention Centre, Darwin, 12 April 2014)
Source: The Forgotten Children
Abbott launched a scathing attack on Gillian Triggs, Human Rights Commission President and it was reported today the government has sought her removal prior to the release of the report.
The Abbott government sought the
resignation of the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission
Gillian Triggs two weeks before it launched an extraordinary attack on
the commission over its report on children in immigration detention.
While The Forgotten Children report is
about children, it is also about detention. The effects of detention
don’t disappear the moment a detainee is released. The experts have
warned of this for years and I know from personal experience this is
true. There may be some particularly resilient individuals that are
released unscathed, but I suggest the vast majority do not find recovery
instant or easy. Sometimes the effects are not immediately apparent.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often doesn’t appear until
sometime later. A member of my family suffers PTSD as the result of a
life experience totally unrelated to detention. The PTSD did not reach
full expression until ten years after the event, although it could be
argued with appropriate professional intervention her PTSD may have been
detected earlier. There is considerable debate about delayed-onset PTSD
and research continues: a good reference article is A Quarter of Cases of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Is With Delayed Onset. The
article discusses patients suffering “subthreshold” symptoms after the
event but before full expression of the PTSD condition.
Of course PTSD is only one of the many
mental health issues that can result from detention. Anxiety and
depression are also common.
Not only are we risking the welfare of
vulnerable children while in detention, we are risking their future
welfare as well because there is a very high risk we are damaging
the mental health of their parents (those children who are not
unaccompanied minors). This means the parents will be less able to
engage with their children as parents at a time when the child most
needs their parents to support their recovery.
In 2012 Dr Belinda Liddell, as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at UNSW, wrote of the impact of immigration policies on the mental health of asylum seekers. Since then our treatment of asylum seekers has worsened, not improved.
In Nauru, where more than 380 asylum seekers are
currently being detained, there have been reports of hunger strikes,
self-harm, aggression and suicide attempts.



Unfortunately this isn’t new – these signs of psychological
distress have been repeatedly witnessed in Australia’s immigration
detention centres since the early 1990s.



For several decades now, mental health professionals have
documented the psychological health of asylum seekers within mandatory
detention facilities. Findings from multiple studies provide clear
evidence of deteriorating mental health as a result of indefinite
detention, with profound long-term consequences even after community
resettlement.
I note “profound long-term consequences“.
So should our government. This report isn’t just about children. It is
about whole families. This report isn’t just about the conditions in
detention. It is about the future of the children, the future of the
families. The long-term effects will be different for each person. Many
may end up unable to be gainfully employed or to study to build a life
after detention. Society will, as society often does in many situations
such as rape and domestic violence, blame the victim rather than accept
responsibility for allowing the detention in the first place.
Abbott and his ministry should be
considering the lives of these people, not some “Stop the boats” slogan
that is well past its use-by date. The government need to deliver the
“good government” promised on Monday and act responsibly. Persecuting
innocent people is not responsible. More importantly, it is not humane
and is in contravention of Australia’s responsibilities under
international law. It has life-long effects on the imprisoned, long
after release.
Robyn Oyeniyi lives with the effects from detention on a daily basis. Robyn writes on Love versus Goliath.
Image by Jen Bethune.










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