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Asylum-seeker children 'self-harming'

28 May 2011 11:00 am - 18     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Asylum-seeker children are attempting self-harm and even suicide in a Darwin immigration detention centre, a key medical group representative says.

Although the government is attempting to place all asylum-seeking children and families in community housing some are still held in detention centres.

And in Darwin, this has resulted in young children presenting to doctors after trying to hurt themselves, the Australian Medical Association's Northern Territory president Paul Bauert said.

"We have had children under the age of 10 attempting self-harm," Dr Bauert said today.

"There's definitely been cases of attempted suicide and even cases of some young children taking up hunger strikes. There's been some close calls."

The government has pledged to move all children out of detention by the end of next month, but Dr Bauert said the transfer was not happening fast enough.



Children who experienced hardship and stress in their first years often carried it with them for the rest of their lives, said Dr Bauert, who urged the government to release all children from detention immediately.

"We know that 95 per cent of these kids are going to end up Australian citizens and what we are doing is damaging them," he said.

"It's just not the Australian way."

Rights groups have criticised Australia's system of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers awaiting processing, with the nation's Human Rights Commission last week warning suicide and depression were major concerns in the centres.

Dr Bauert's comments are also backed by those of former Australian human rights commissioner Sev Ozdowski, who has described the impact of detention on children as tragic, saying some had developed mental illness from the experience.

More than 6800 asylum seekers - mostly from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq - arrived in Australia in 2010 and hundreds more have arrived this year. (AFP)

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  Comments - 18

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  • SL Saturday, 28 May 2011 07:51 PM

    Don't fall for these pressure tactics. These people have mastered those.

    mad patriot Monday, 30 May 2011 11:01 AM

    so do you think srilanknas do not have weaknesses & compassionate nature towards human suffering
    for their own people

    Calistus Jayatilleke Sunday, 29 May 2011 09:24 AM

    These refugees obviously are influenced by the culture of LTTE Tigers who forcefully recruited little children to go to war: so there is nothing surprising if these parents too try to use their children to win sympathy from the host country and get permanent status.

    Millibnd Sunday, 29 May 2011 07:32 AM

    Ausis should consider the Margaret Thatcher's " Let them to die" policy on Irish Guerrillas who went on hunger strike in British prisons or decide to send the Sri Lankan Refugees back to Sri Lanka.

    Steve Sunday, 29 May 2011 07:05 AM

    It is pathetic to see the state of minds of most people who have commented here.. You sit in your comfortable houses and condemn little children cos you have not stared down the barrel of a gun or know what it is to live right in the middle of a war. I’m not saying that all this is the truth but some or most of them could be genuine, yet your prejudice and racist self keeps you from empathizing EVEN with little children. Your state of mind is no diff to the LTTE who recruited children to kill themselves..

    SL Sunday, 29 May 2011 05:21 AM

    Don't you have heart to ask them to do those cheap tactics. Anyway your leaders ordered them to go to war for you. So no surprises.

    Kamal Sunday, 29 May 2011 04:20 AM

    this is black tiger style parenting

    MagodisThuma Saturday, 28 May 2011 11:57 PM

    Very correct !

    Chathu05 Saturday, 28 May 2011 10:17 PM

    Send them home. Enough trouble makers already.

    cupcup Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:21 PM

    Their parents must have told them to act like this to get speedy asylum...

    jarule Saturday, 28 May 2011 04:56 PM

    Cup Cup I think that is a heartless comment on innocent children. watch your words

    sundram Saturday, 28 May 2011 01:54 PM

    cupcup, dont you have a heart?

    Lanka Lion - Sydney Saturday, 28 May 2011 02:10 PM

    These asylum seekers are trying to take the aussies for a ride by trying to capitalise on their weaknesses & compassionate nature towards human suffering

    UK TAMIL BOY Saturday, 28 May 2011 01:13 PM

    I feel very sad.

    Chathu05 Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:46 PM

    Do not have to teach the cubs how to hunt. Australia becoming another Canada.

    Ralph Anthony Kern Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:43 PM

    All of them should be sent back to their own countries.

    Tom Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:22 PM

    They cant get used to detention so soon. they should either be sent home or taken to Aussi soon

    Bing Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:22 PM

    The children should be given special care without being treated like outcasts...


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