15 Aug 2012

Mental health warnings over Australia's new off-shore detention regime

1:25 pm on 15 August 2012

A psychiatrist, who has been involved in advising the Australian government on the mental health of asylum seekers, says the prospect of people again being detained on remote islands is very concerning.

Canberra has got agreement this week from the Papua New Guinea and Nauru Governments for the detention camps in their countries to be re-opened.

Professor Louise Newman of Monash University says research shows many of the people seeking refugee status have pre-existing mental health conditions and being detained in isolated communities can exacerbate this.

"Whether they are in Christmas Island, Manus Island, Nauru - it is really about the difficulties of providing services which are very much needed for vulnerable people, the length of time they spend and the fact they have pre-existing trauma. When they don't have a sense that their situation can be resolved then they start to mentally deteriorate."