Detention has alarming impact on mental health, warn psychologists

Detention has alarming impact on mental health, warn psychologists

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has urged the Federal Government to show compassion out of fears for the psychological impact of detention on the mental health of refugees, including the Tamil family.

APS President, Tamara Cavenett, has called on the Government to exercise ministerial discretion and find an appropriate settlement option for Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two children Kopika and Tharunicaa.

“While it’s clear there is a risk to the physical health of the Tamil family, as a psychologist I am also very concerned about their mental health and the psychological harm inflicted by extended detention,” said Ms Cavenett.

“There is over a decade of evidence which shows detention has an alarming impact on the mental health of refugees, particularly children, and these consequences must not be ignored.”

“The APS has long opposed offshore detention for these vulnerable groups of people, particularly when there are children involved. The process restricts access to support services and inevitably compromises the ethical delivery of psychological support.”

“While primary care is available, there is limited access to specialist and complex services.”

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report, The Forgotten Children, from its 2015 Inquiry into Children in Detention, catalogues the wide variety of psychological harms detention causes children, as well as their parents.

Detention has an adverse effect on mental health by exacerbating the impact of previous trauma, and risks inflicting new trauma.

The APS says a solution needs to be found for humane processing onshore and decent re-resettlement.

The Government must meet its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and to uphold the fundamental right of refugees to seek protection, by adopting a fair refugee status determination process.

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