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Detention, Uncertainty take their Toll on the Mental Health of Refugees

immigration detention centres in Australia and reported their experience of detention had caused serious to very serious stress.

More than 90 per cent reported serious stress in detention associated with being interviewed by immigration officers, not receiving adequate medical treatment, exposure to acts of violence and brutality and seeing people attempt suicide.

Significant numbers said stress was also caused by alleged assaults by officers, being handcuffed during transport, being woken during the night for head counts, being forced to use unhygienic toilets and being placed in solitary confinement.

The proportion of TPV holders experiencing living difficulties since release from detention exceeded that of PPV holders for all items assessed. Over 90 per cent of TPV holders experienced anxiety about possible repatriation.

“Since our research was completed, Australia has revised its immigration policies, substantially limiting mandatory detention and allowing for external review of the grounds for detention after two years,” Mr Steel said.

“TPV holders have been allowed to apply for permanent residency under alternative immigration streams.

“Several factors undoubtedly shaped these changes, but concerns about the mental health of detainees proved to be a decisive feature of the debate.

“Nevertheless, the extent to which these reforms address the negative consequences of prolonged detention, insecure residency and harsh visa conditions remains to be demonstrated.

“Health professions must continue to monitor the interplay of policy and mental health outcomes in this and other vulnerable groups.”

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