That investigation into suicide and self-harm


On 29 July 2011, the Commonwealth Ombudsman announced that his office would initiate an investigation into suicide and self-harm in Australian immigration detention facilities in response to growing concerns about the impact of long-term detention on the ongoing mental health of detainees.

Numerous other stakeholders, including many mental health professionals, support the Ombudsman’s inquiry and have also expressed their growing concerns about prolonged detention in immigration detention centres and the effects it may be having on detainees.

In 12 more days it will be a year and still no report. During this time hundreds of people have lost their minds literally.

SASH watch (Suicide and Self Harm) has been redefined. It is now called PSP (Psychological Support Program) much nicer!

Change of name can not change it’s purpose.

Every morning in detention centres around Australia SERCO and DIAC staff gather together to identify the likely suicides for the day. Guards are then allocated to stand watch – at arm’s length for those most likely and at varying distances for the others according to gradient of desperation.

When they reach a point of no return- are psychotic, starving or single mindedly seeking opportunities to die to the exclusion of all other activities, they are carted off to hospital. As numbers have caused the costs to rise, changes have been made. No more Melbourne Clinic – now it is down the road to cheap some health service place where they lie in a room and are medicated. No activities- nothing just medicated until they become too zombie like to have the capacity to harm themselves.

Then they are taken back to detention where they lurch around until they are deemed past the point of self destruction and their medication is wound back until next time. Not myth- no exaggeration. This is the state of mental health care in detention. Detention centre staff don’t like it but they are powerless to do anything constructive such as release a person on CD or BV.

These powers lie in Canberra where there is no interest in the welfare of asylum seekers. The RSPCA have more powers to order care for animals than asylum seekers in detention centres are entitled to under the mandatory indefinite detention regime. The last death in detention was on 25th October 2011.

Fellow detainees have saved many others since then – JUST IN TIME.

— Pamela Curr Campaign
Coordinator Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003
ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075
“AUSTRALIA. Built by boatpeople.”
[Migaloo = many waters, many travel = boatpeople]

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