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Mental Health Assessment & Asylum Seeker Treatment

April 4, 2005

Refugee Advocates Slam Mental Health Assessment And Treatment Of Asylum Seekers

Refugee advocacy group Rural Australians for Refugees today called for an independent judicial review into the assessment and treatment of mental health problems people in immigration detention.

"We are appalled by the latest information aired on ABC's 4 Corners program about the lack of adequate assessment and treatment of Cornelia Rau by the Department of Immigration and Global Solutions Limited, which runs Baxter Detention Centre." said Mira Wroblewski, spokesperson for RAR. "The department has clearly breached its own guidelines in many ways, as well as breaching medical standards in its assessment and treatment of Ms Rau. Advice from a number of psychiatric professionals was ignored, and she was subjected to treatment that was degrading and inhumane".

"The program also raised the larger question about how asylum seekers and detainees in Baxter are treated. I was sickened to hear psychiatrist Howard Gorton say that the people he had seen in detention centres were the most damaged people he had seen in his entire career. The worst thing is that these people did not come to Australia with these problems- they have been damaged by the system of mandatory detention." said Ms Wroblewski. "There is no reason why Australia cannot implement the system which is used in countries like Sweden, of releasing people to live in the community while their claims are being processed. It is cheaper, more humane, and it works very well".

Commenting about this week's Federal Court case in Adelaide by two Iranian detainees from Baxter, Ms Wroblewski said "It is shameful that in a first world country like Australia asylum seekers should have to resort to legal action for the right to basic medical and psychiatric care."

Rural Australians for Refugees calls for the abolition of mandatory detention of asylum seekers, and release of all asylum seekers to live in the community while their cases are being processed. We demand a full independent judicial review into the way mental health is assessed and treated for those currently in detention.


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