‘Culture of self-harm’ in Australia Detentions

source from news.com.au,

Asylum seekers

Lebel byThe Sail: “Photo of 11 Rohingya Burmese refugee asylumseekers, 2 Bangladeshies and 3 Indonesian crews loading to Christmas Island on 9 N0v 2009. Up to today four of 11 Rohingyans are still stuck in detention for puppet security checks”

THE commonwealth ombudsman has launched an inquiry into suicide and self-harm in Australia’s immigration detention centres.

Allan Asher witnessed the deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers when he visited Christmas Island in June.

In the week the ombudsman visited the detention centre there were more than 30 incidents of self-harm by detainees there.

“This reflects an upsurge in the number of incidents of self-harm and attempted suicide reported to IHMS [International Health and Medical Services] across all immigration detention facilities,” Mr Asher said.

“My investigation will assess the extent of this tragic problem.”

It would examine the root causes, and consider practical steps that the department and its service providers Serco and IHMS should take to identify and manage those at risk of suicide and self-harm.

The Australian Greens applauded Mr Asher’s decision to investigate.

Immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the ombudsman’s report would add weight to earlier assessments by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“We know the policy of mandatory detention, in place since 1992, has ruined many people, some of whom have taken their lives, harmed themselves and are still recovering from trauma years after being accepted as refugees,” she said.

The ombudsman hopes to release the results of his inquiry by the end of 2011.

A culture of self-harm

Internal report sheets obtained by the ABC yesterday from the Christmas Island detention centre provided disturbing evidence of a culture of self-harm.

The documents, which cover May to June, showed that on June 9, there were five incidents of self-harm and four threats to do so, two attempted hangings and one suicide ideation.

Another note advised officers to carry “Hoffmans” knives at all times – allegedly to cut down people who were trying to hang themselves.

The Refugee Rights Action Network said it signalled an emergency situation at the Christmas Island centre.

It’s urged the inquiry to investigate centre management Serco as well, amid claims it is dismissive of the mental health concerns of detainees.

“I have been told by a Christmas Island guard that an asylum seeker banging their head is not considered a serious incident unless they are bleeding or unconscious,” the network’s Victoria Martin-Iversonnly said in a statement.

“Only in a detention centre would such an attitude be tolerated.”

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/culture-of-self-harm-asylum-seeker-mental-health-inquiry/story-e6frfkvr-1226103857671#ixzz1TSNT22Pn

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