Detention Centres: “Factories for Mental Illness”
Around a decade ago, the Australian Government began to change its asylum seeker policies which has resulted in the detention of 1,106 children in offshore centres. They wait for years before their applications for asylum are processed. Last year’s inquiry found that these children and their families were suffering various forms of mental illness and other health issues. Experts testified that the detention centres functioned like jails. A further 1,600 children are held in community residence and another 1,800 are on bridging visas that stop their parents from being able to work. From the 1940s to the end of the 1990s, Australia allowed refugees to live in community housing on the mainland while their applications were processed. The period of waiting was much shorter despite the fact that there were thousands more people seeking asylum, and they were allowed to find work, housing and receive social services support.
The Australian government has essentially set up the current detention centres as “factories for mental illness”:
“The conditions in immigration detention are not conducive to establishing or maintaining family life, let alone helping families thrive. For asylum seekers who may have experienced torture or trauma, there is a vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems even before they reach countries of resettlement.”
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